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Vendayn's Western drywood+subterranean termites journal (9-18-16) (ended)


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#1 Offline Vendayn - Posted August 26 2015 - 9:38 PM

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Today I was able to get 8 Drywood termite alates, along with five more that I got in the pool area earlier tonight. I wanted an even number of them, but 15 is good. Not like I have an even number of males/females because they look nearly the same.

 

They fly on hot, sunny days with little to no clouds at 2 pm to 3 pm. They only fly 10-100 feet, so you pretty much need to be in an area where they are nesting. Like someones house. :P

 

I put them in a tube, half filled with water and the rest with wood. Contrary to belief, Drywood termites don't do well in dry environments. I tried a piece of wood and misted it every day, and they dried out really quick still and I even soaked the wood. I tried a closed container with bits of wood and paper, but they still dried out really quick even with my 1-2 times a day. I have no idea how they survive in such dry conditions, but there must be something in their environment that gives them hydration. In captivity, they dried out as fast as subterranean termites do. I still saw a lot of dried out dead ones outside too, so they must have a low success rate even in wild.

 

With that said, my test tube idea that I got from Drew is working out A LOT better. Usually by now (its been half a day) they are dried up and dead. Instead, they are settled in and are doing great. :) If you do this approach, make sure the wood isn't touching the cotton, it will eventually create mold.

 

I'll take pictures next month, but I want them to settle in first. They get stressed pretty easily if I disturb them too much.

 

 

 

 


Edited by Vendayn, September 18 2016 - 12:53 PM.


#2 Offline Vendayn - Posted August 26 2015 - 11:25 PM

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I decided to just take a picture of their setup. Yeah it is pretty moist in there, but it will be fine. The termites like it like that. Plus as I've said before, they are very successful in very humid and wet Florida. They aren't strictly just "dry" wood termites. Also, there is enough space between the wood and the cotton that the wood will just eventually dry out. Then the cotton will be the source of water. At least that is the theory. Maybe it will give a bit of humidity in there for them to do whatever it is they do to hydrate themselves like in the wild. Still no idea how they survive in such dry wood, but die fast in dry conditions with the same wood put in their setup...anyone by chance know?

 

http://imgur.com/zaykIpI

 

Also, no idea why. But I can't link pictures it seems from either photobucket or imgur, it just shows up as a blank white square. Weird.

 

The link should work though

 

Also make that 14 drywood termites :P Which was my actual goal as 15 was an odd number of them which was annoying to me. One of them I guess got stuck on the cotton (outside the tube) and dried out and died. I fed it to my fish. :P

 

As I said. I noticed drywood termites dry out very quick outside too. I very often saw dead ones that dried out on the sidewalk. I'm guessing they actually need a source of water early on in their life or some way to get hydration. Sort of like subterranean termites.


Edited by Vendayn, August 27 2015 - 12:24 AM.


#3 Offline Vendayn - Posted August 27 2015 - 5:03 PM

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Just a quick update. All the alates are alive and well. :) The test tube idea works great for them, a lot better than any of my other attempts.

 

Now to forget about them for many months. :P



#4 Offline Vendayn - Posted September 7 2015 - 1:45 PM

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Out of all that survived. There are two females and two males. And, one of the females has gotten quite a lot larger. Her abdomen has enlarged quite a bit and is now white instead of black/red.

 

Hopefully she doesn't grow too big, too fast, otherwise the test tube may be too small for them. She has already gotten bigger faster than I thought.



#5 Offline Vendayn - Posted September 9 2015 - 5:47 PM

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Last update for a while.

 

Seeing that the termites plugged up their home with sawdust, I won't see them for a while.

 

With that said, development to get workers should go pretty fast. The garage is always really warm. I imagine it will be anywhere from 2 month to 6 months at most. Once the queen(s) lay eggs it only takes several weeks to get workers.

 

My subterranean termites I used to have, got workers in around 4 months, and they were kept in colder conditions. I think it may go a lot faster with these queens, because the one I saw has been growing VERY fast. She has been the fastest growing termite queen I've had, granted I haven't had past success with Drywood termites.

 

Also fun fact. Drywood termites do indeed live in both wet/damp wood and dry wood. :) I imagine they can sometimes be confused with dampwood termites. The only thing is they like wood with about 10% water content preferably, but they'll live in wet conditions too. Their bodies do create their own moisture though. However, them being in a tube that has wet wood, seems to actually have helped a lot. Usually they get dehydrated very fast (hence my past failures with this species), so I think starting them in a tube works out WAY better. Plus I can kind of keep an eye on them, even though they plugged up the wood I put in there.


Edited by Vendayn, September 9 2015 - 5:48 PM.


#6 Offline Vendayn - Posted November 11 2015 - 8:37 PM

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Both this colony and my subterranean termites are dead.

 

Both colonies got invaded by Argentine ants.

 

No more termites. :(



#7 Offline Vendayn - Posted November 11 2015 - 9:22 PM

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On the bright side. I went down to a dead tree, and got a piece of wood with a bunch of Drywood termites in it. Probably a medium size colony of them.

 

I'll be keeping them higher up this time.

 

the piece of wood is not wide, but a very long, hard, branch. So, I'll need to cut it up to fit in a 10 gallon tank.

 

Hope ants don't get into it overnight cause I could only put it on the ground in the garage. But I put it a bit from where the ants are going into the other termite colonies.



#8 Offline dspdrew - Posted November 12 2015 - 7:52 AM

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Damn those Argentine ants. I sure hope I don't have a problem with them where I'm moving to.



#9 Offline dermy - Posted November 12 2015 - 8:15 AM

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Damn those Argentine ants. I sure hope I don't have a problem with them where I'm moving to.

So these Argentine ants can just walk right into an ant colony [captive] and just kill it. Sounds pretty evil.



#10 Offline Vendayn - Posted November 12 2015 - 9:51 PM

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Turns out the colony I got appears to be just Western subterranean termites. But, I saw a big Drywood termite soldier drop out of the ground yesterday, though maybe she came from another piece of wood. I might need to go back and look tomorrow if I want to try and find them. I'll probably skip and focus on the subterranean termites, they are more like ants (digging and exploring) and I can always see them.

 

However, I seem to have got quite a big subterranean termite colony. There are quite a lot of workers, and a lot of nymphs too. Haven't seen any soldiers yet. But there are even alates! I'm not worried about them getting inside, as they dry out so fast. And, there are already termites out front anyway, amongst the bark.

 

Don't know exact numbers, but the wood I cut up is quite big (into three pieces) and just a bit short of the length of the tank. I imagine there are tons of termites inside, because when I started breaking wood in the past (that was much smaller) all the termites would be grouped together and fit many in such a small space.

 

Also, I am keeping them in a 10 gallon aquarium on the porch on the second shelf. I shouldn't have any ant problems, especially since Argentine ants seem to have disappeared mostly. Except by the garage, but turns out they had been nesting in the corner inside, so it was warmer for them. I poured soapy water on them. :P No more Argentine ants.



#11 Offline Vendayn - Posted November 13 2015 - 3:59 PM

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Changed the thread title, as I am not keeping Drywood termites as of now. And I doubt I will again, as I'm likely moving next year to Washington state. Should be subterranean termites up there (haven't researched that), but I'll likely find a ton of Dampwood termites and those are awesome (mostly because of their huge size). Still, I hope there are subterranean termites up in Forks Washington! Anyone know if there would be any way up in the NW part of the state?



#12 Offline Vendayn - Posted November 30 2015 - 9:38 PM

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And back to the original title it goes. Nothing to update, but they are actually Drywood termites. Surprisingly, workers look more similar to Subterranean workers than I expected. This is actually the species I've wanted for over a decade now, so its all good. :D I probably have passed up tons of them and haven't known because I had the idea they were a bit bigger. However, the soldiers are definitely bigger than Subterranean termite soldiers and they look really cool.


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#13 Offline Vendayn - Posted December 16 2015 - 6:46 PM

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I added a colony of Subterranean termites to the aquarium. They'll be fine together, since the Drywood termites are above ground (and not touching the soil) where as the Subterranean termites only eat wood that is close or in the soil.

 

I probably got 100+ Subterranean termite workers, and I'm pretty sure they are Western subterranean termites because the soldiers have a yellowish body. I noticed at least in California, Western subterranean termites are the only ones I've seen with a yellowish body, so it makes it easy to identify them. The hard ones to tell apart are Desert and arid-land subterranean termites, because they look really similar. Except the mandibles of course are different on all of them.



#14 Offline Vendayn - Posted December 23 2015 - 1:49 PM

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I added 12-14 Subterranean termite alates to the tank. I did this before with Desert subterranean termites and the queenless workers DID accept, at least some of the alates. But, it doesn't seem to work all the time. The next year I put termite alates in another colony I had, but they already had produced secondary reproductives and the soldiers attacked the alates. But, the colony in the tank is still new and doesn't have any queens (yet), so should work out. Will be a nice boost to the colony.

 

Still probably won't get any termite nymphs for a long time, it takes over 6 months to get the first termite nymphs and after about a year the colonies tend to grow nicely. When you start with just the alates, it takes far longer to get a colony going. But, since I'm likely moving out of state next year, not really sure what I'll do with them. I might find a place in the mountains to put them, away from Argentine ants. Or maybe give the colony to someone. Or maybe I'll just move to a different part of the state, it isn't for sure what we're doing except we're definitely moving.



#15 Offline Vendayn - Posted December 23 2015 - 4:57 PM

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Well, turns out I probably didn't need to get alates.

 

There were over a hundred termite alates this evening trying to fly out of the tank (and failing). Most disappeared and shed their wings inside the tank. My wife said this morning there were even more.






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