Termites are often called the silent destroyer because they may be secretly hiding and thriving in your basement or attic without any immediate signs of damage.
While each termite species thrives in different climates and eats different types of food, all termites require four things to survive – food, moisture, shelter and optimal temperature. Unfortunately, all homes, regardless of their construction type, can provide these ideal conditions for termite infestation.
Did You Know?
- Termites are one of the rare insect species that live incolonies consisting of an equal number of males and females, even in the soldier caste.
- Approximately 2,300 species of termites are known to exist on earth.
- While a serious threat to wooden structures, termites are also beneficial. Their ability to digest cellulose helps these insects recycle the nutrient base of the planet.
- Termites have existed for approximately 250 million years.
- In recorded history, termites have never developed resistance to any type of pesticide. Termites’ survival is due in part to the queen’s “royal taster system,” in which the colony’s workers taste and process all food before it is fed to the queen.
- Termite workers and soldiers are blind, which means they rely on their sense of touch and chemical signals to help them locate food, moisture and shelter.
Western Drywood Termite
These termites are about almost and inch to 1 ½ inch in length and do not dwell in the ground, but rather in wood with 12% moisture or less. Generally September and October are popular seasons for drywood termites. These termites occupy drywood and exposed wood. They are also keen to occupying cracks and crevices for colonization. It is important for commercial businesses to report any termite sightings to management for immediate treatment repairs.
Just as the name suggests, drywood termites live in dry wood. Unlike many other termite species, they do not need contact with the soil to survive. This termite species can tolerate dry conditions for long periods of time, since it receives all moisture it needs from the wood it consumes and the metabolism it uses to digest the wood.
Drywood termites commonly target the wood in your home’s structural timbers, framing, furniture and hardwood flooring. Wood consumed by drywood termites appears very clean and smooth – as if the wood had been smoothed by sand paper.
Drywood termites can infest several different areas in your home, forming separate colonies in your basement, attic or porch. They are usually found inwarmer climates that do not reach freezing temperatures in the winter. However, this species of termite can survive in northern climates in homes with air conditioning.
Western Subterranean Termite
These termites are about 3/8 inch in length and generally found in Western states of America. They generally dwell in the ground and worker termites dig up the mud tubes of wood to search for food. Do not mistake these termites for ants as they are somehow perceived as such with first glance. Vigilance is key in prevention.
Subterranean termites live in the soil underground. This termite species prefers to eat soft, spring wood fiber, which means wood damaged by subterranean termites has a honeycombed appearance, with only the grain left behind.
Unlike drywood termite colonies, subterranean termite colonies can contain thousands of workers. Subterranean termites are found in every state in the U.S., except Alaska. Subterranean termite infestations are most common in warmer climates, particularly in southern and southeastern states.
Swarmers from mature colonies typically leave the nest at one of two times per year – during the spring or during the fall. The exact timing of the swarms varies based on the species and weather conditions. Swarms on the exterior of a home may be missed by homeowners, as they are typically a brief event during the morning or afternoon – a time when many people are not at home. Formosan termites also can swarm at dusk.
What are Swarmer Termites?
- Swarmer termites are winged termites, but are not able to fly well. During certain seasons, these termites may take flight and colonize a new soil dwelling. Then these termites will mate and birth worker termites. These types are the most popular termites you may find in any home or business.
What Do They Look Like?
- Swarmer termites have four wings and a broad body. They are 3/8 of an inch long and vary in colors from brown to black.
Why they are Dangerous.
- Swarms of these termites are first indications that they are damaging property. It is important to treat these areas before more damage occurs.
How Wood is Damaged
Termite colonies generally need about five years to colonize before they can commit serious damage to properties. If not treated, termites can damage floors and roofs to collapse. This is why treatment needs to be detected early.
Signs of Termite Wood Damage
Signs of damage are indications of tubes within the wood. Sometimes mud tubes are characteristics of termite dwellings leading to the soil.