Each year termites invade millions of homes, causing billions of dollars in damage which is rarely covered by homeowners insurance. Termites are primarily found in the south but are present in every state except Alaska. Termite control is very important if you live in the south. It's not if you will get termites, but when. A termite inspection by a licensed professional is the first step in termite treatment and protecting your property from these voracious pests.
Subterranean termites live in underground colonies or in moist secluded areas aboveground 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 reproductives. 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.
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 siding and wood portions of the residence.
These social insects infest dry wood and 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 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.
Originally from China, Formosan termites are the most voracious, aggressive and devious of over 2,000 termite species known to science. 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 are the most aggressive subterranean termite species. Formosans are organized into huge underground colonies, and build intricate mud nests inside the walls of a structure.
Because of their aggressive nature, Formosan termites are difficult to control once they infest a structure. Prevention is key.
Possible signs of a termite infestation:
• Pencil-sized diameter, or larger, mud tubes running across bare concrete or masonry between the soil and any wooden part of your building.
• Thin, small, papery wings, all the same size and shape, 3/8-1/2 inches long, on your window sill, counter top or floor (especially if it is late Spring and there has been a recent rain.)
• Thin, "bubbled" or distorted areas of paint or wood surfaces which feel cool to the touch.
• Any wooden building parts (especially if they are support structures) begin to "sag" unexpectedly.
If you're experiencing any of these signs, a termite exterminator can help. Termite prevention is the key to protecting your property and providing you with peace-of-mind.