Termites have been around for over 120 million years. They are social insects and live in colonies that are typically found underground or inside wood. Most termites feed on cellulose from wood and wood byproducts. They are worldwide in distribution, with about 3,000 described species, 50 of which that can be found in the United States. It can be hard to know when you need to look into a professional termite inspection, but a good rule of thumb is if you’re asking, it’s probably time.
Termites are usually divided into three groups based on the location of their colony: subterranean, drywood, and dampwood termites. The biology and habits of each group are different, so a detailed knowledge of each is necessary for effective control.
There is more structural damage done each year in the United States by termites in homes and other buildings than all of the damage done in a year by floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and fire. If a termite infestation occurs in your home, you need to act quickly. Check out our guide on what to do if you find termites in your home. After that, take a closer look at the most prevalent species found in the area: 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 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. Soldier 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. Drainage problems are a huge draw for termite infestations. 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 soil and wood portions of your structures.
If your home or business has termites, immediate actions need to be taken to minimize potential damage. At My Pest Pros, our termite control technicians know exactly how to both remove existing termites and prevent future ones from invading your property. We have an exhaustive Termite FAQ to answer your immediate questions, and on-call technicians waiting to answer your calls for any not already answered.