Termites have been around for over 120 million years. They are social insects and live in colonies which are usually located in the ground or in wood. Most termites feed on cellulose from wood and wood by-products such as paper. They are worldwide in distribution, with about 3,000 described species, and about 50 species are found in the United States. Termites are usually divided into three groups based on the location of their colony: the subterranean, the drywood, and the 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 and Fairfax, VA by termites in homes and other buildings than all of the damage done in a year by floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and fire.
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. 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.
If your home or business has termites, immediate actions needs to be taken to minimize the damage they can do. At My Pest Pros, our termite control technicians know exaclty how to diagnose a termite problem and also the best techniques and technologies to use to get rid of them for good.
For more information, please check out our full guide to everything you need to know about termites. Call My Pest Pros today for a FREE termite control estimate!