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Q.I work in and around Albuquerque, N.M. Do drywood termites cause trouble in this area? If so, what measures can one take to prevent damage?

A.Paul Fisette replies: Drywood termites are present in New Mexico, and they can definitely cause trouble. They are found in a very narrow region along the southern fringe of the U.S., from California to Florida. Drywood termites do not live in the ground like the more well-known subterranean termites, and they don’t multiply as fast. In the U.S., drywood termites cause far less damage than subterranean termites, but their ability to live in dry wood, without outside moisture or contact with the ground, makes them particularly troublesome. The destruction caused by drywood termites does not proceed rapidly, but over the course of many years they can completely destroy the timbers in a home.

Drywood termites are seldom seen and are difficult to detect. Signs of the presence of drywood termites include tiny termite fecal pellets and "kickout holes" in the wood, which are the size of a BB.

Drywood termites can be transplanted from one building to another in boxes, furniture, lumber, and other infested wooden objects. It is important to inspect lumber carefully before you build with it. Remove wood scraps, debris, old brush, and stumps from your building site. Keep exposed wood painted, since paint is a fairly good barrier to infestation by drywood termites. Even better, use treated wood where possible.

Pesticides can be used to get rid of existing drywood termites in a home. You can either spray the nests directly or fumigate the house, which is both very effective and very dangerous. However, reinfestation after fumigation is possible, since fumigation does not leave any residue behind. Spraying or fumigation should be left to a licensed exterminator. Call your state pest control office for a listing of licensed professionals.