Understanding Termites

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites live in underground colonies or in moist secluded areas above ground that can contain up to 2 million members. They build distinctive “mud tubes” to gain access to food sources and to protect themselves from open air. Termite colonies are organized into castes depending on tasks — workers, soldiers and reproductive. The characteristics of a subterranean termite are dependent on the termite’s role in the colony. Cream-colored Worker subterranean termites are 1/8 to 3/8’s of an inch in length. Soldier subterranean termites are of a similar body length, but are distinguished by their powerful mandibles. Solider termites have cream-colored bodies and brown heads. Reproductive subterranean termites are approximately one inch long.

Subterranean termites live underground and build tunnels, referred to as mud tubes, to reach food sources. Like other termite species, they feed on products containing cellulose. Subterranean termites swarm in the spring — groups of reproductive termites go off to start new colonies.

Subterranean termites need contact with the soil to survive and live underground. They can build tunnels through cracks in concrete.

Subterranean termites are by far the most destructive species. They can collapse a building entirely, meaning possible financial ruin for a homeowner. The hard, saw-toothed jaws of termites work like shears and are able to bite off extremely small fragments of wood, one piece at a time.

To help be proactive in reducing risk of Subterranean Termites, Avoid water accumulation near your home’s foundation. Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks. Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation, and moisture barriers. Never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the yard. Most importantly, eliminate wood contact with the soil. Maintain a one-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building. Mostly importantly be proactive in your preventative Termite Treatment Plans.

 

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Formosan Termites

Originally from China, Formosan termites are the most voracious, aggressive and devious of over 2,000 termite species known to science. They are considered one of the most aggressive and economically devastating termite species in the country.  Formosan termites are a subterranean species of termite. Swarmer formosan termite are about 1/2 inch in overall length, including their wings.

Formosans are organized into huge underground colonies, and build intricate mud nests inside the walls of a structure. Formosan termites often form aerial nests made up of chewed wood, soil, saliva and fecal material. These nests can be as large as several cubic feet and found in both the soil and above ground level. They will not be discovered unless the wall coverings are removed.  Formosan termites are the most aggressive subterranean termite species.  Formosan termites cause the same type of damage as the other subterranean termites. However, they cause this damage more rapidly than native subterranean termites.

Because of their aggressive nature, formosan termites are difficult to control once they infest a structure. Prevention is key.

To help be proactive in reducing risk of Subterranean Termites, Avoid water accumulation near your home’s foundation. Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks. Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation. Never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the yard. Most importantly, eliminate wood contact with the soil. Maintain a one-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building.  Mostly importantly be proactive in your preventative Termite Treatment Plans.

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Drywood Termites

These social insects infest dry wood and unlike Subterranean Termites, they do not require contact with the soil.

They form colonies of up to 2,500 members. Unlike subterranean termite species, drywood termite colonies do not have a worker caste. The work is done by immature termites before they reach adulthood.

Drywood termites infest dry wood, like that found in attic framings. Drywood termites are cryptic insects that are difficult to detect. They live deep inside wood; and except during periods when they swarm or when repair work is being done on infested homes, they are seldom seen. Colonies are small (usually fewer than 1,000 individuals), can be widely dispersed, and take years to mature.  Often the entire colony can live within on piece or wood, or several colonies within the one piece of wood. Drywood termites can infest structures and cause significant damage.

Drywood termites can be avoided by making sure firewood and scrap wood is stored at least 20 feet from the home. Because drywood termites form new colonies by gaining access to wood through small holes, seal all cracks and crevices in a structure, as well as be brought into the home through old pieces of wood. Mostly importantly be proactive in your preventative Termite Treatment Plans.

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Dampwood Termites

As the name suggests, dampwood termites infest wood with a high moisture content. Dampwood termites are normally larger in size than other termite species. Bodies of king and queen dampwood termites range in size from 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch long and have two pairs of wings that are equal in size and shape and extend beyond their abdomen. Nymphs range up to 5/8 inch and worker dampwood termites are up to 3/4 inch.

Dampwood termite colonies, like drywood termites, have no worker caste. The nymph dampwood termites take care of the kings and queens of the colony and feed the soldier caste.

Because of their need for excessive moisture, dampwood termites are not often found in structures.

Dampwood termites do not usually infest structures because of the low moisture content of wood in structures. However, care must be taken to avoid attracting dampwood termites to a structure.

To avoid dampwood termites, make sure downspouts and gutters are diverted well away from the structure, and avoid prolonged contact between a structure and large areas of moisture, such as ponds or snow drifts.  Mostly importantly be proactive in your preventative Termite Treatment Plans.