Termites may be hiding and thriving on your property with no signs of damage. Cellulose-based plant materials are what all termites subsist on. Regardless of construction type, all homes can provide cellulose food for termite infestation.
The 3 major types of termites found in the United States are: subterranean, drywood and dampwood. There are actually over 200 different species of termites, and they all have specific names.
Termites range in length from 1/4″ to 1/2″ in length. Kings and queens are larger, often reaching over an inch long. Workers have no wings and are typically soft-bodied and pale-colored. If you are seeing flying termites, you are seeing Reproductives.
Termite Feeding Habits
Termites feed on dead plants or trees, getting nurients from cellulose, an organic fiber found in plant and wood fiber. While wood makes up the majority of the termite diet, they also feed on other materials such as paper, plastic and drywall. Some termites eat living trees, but most species dine on dead trees.
Each type of termite has it’s dietary preferences. Drywood termites require little moisture in the wood they consume, so they are often found in attics. Subterranean termites will eat most species of wood, but prefer softwoods. Dampwood termites gravitate to moist, decaying wood, so they tend to stay close to the ground.
The termite mouth is capable of tearing pieces of woody type material. That’s why they can be so destructive to your home. It won’t take thousands of feeding termites a lot of time to cause costly damage to your dwelling.
Termite normally live in wooden structures, decayed trees, fallen timber and soil. The nests vary among species based on moisture content. Tropical regions where living conditions are optimal, will find a greater number of termites.
The most abundant type of termites in the US are subterranean. While dampwood and drywood are generally found in the south.
Subterranean termites tend to build their nests in soil, consisting of an elaborate tunnel system, with mud tunnels that lead above ground food sources. Drywood termites live in the wood they consume and can live in walls and other wooden things, like furniture.
Mature, winged termites will swarm around windows and doors They are highly attracted to light and are most active in the spring. After they mate, they locate a new breeding site and create another colony. Unattended, they can totally destroy a dwelling.
Reproductive flying termites leave their colonies to pair off and mate in the summer months. The couples then lose their wings and become kings and queens, to create new colonies. Immature termites ultimately fill the roles of either workers, soldiers or reproductives.
Workers are gather food to feed the colony, maintain the nest and care for the young. Soldiers defend the nest from predators. Aside from kings and queens, Reproductives are the only sexually mature members of the colony.
The best type of termite control is to control your environment so that they have no reason to infest your home. Keep all food sources secured and all surfaces, like counters and floors clean. Make sure there are no leaks under sinks, toilets, etc. Worker termites are called “workers” for a reason. That’s all they do. If there is no food or water, your home will be a less attractive target.
Eliminate All Moisture Problems
- No leaking faucets or drains
- Divert water from around foundation
- Maintain gutters and drain pipes
- Remove excessive wood mulch and plant cover
- Remove all standing water
- Seal entry points around water utility pipes
Eliminate Termite Food Sources
- Keep firewood away from dwelling
- Clear all stumps and debris
- Cover outside vents with screens
- Maintain wooden decks and fences
Signs of Termite Infestation
- Swarms of winged insects
- Cracked or bubbling paint
- Hollow sounding wood, when tapped
- Mud tubes on exterior walls, wooden beams or in crawl spaces