General info: Common problems caused by termites include wall damage, carpet infestations, and foundation damage.
Size: Between 4 and 15 millimeters in length.
Color: Various shades of brown.
Termites are pests that many people are all too familiar with. These tiny insects have the power to wreak havoc on a home, and without proper extermination, can leave homeowners with costly repairs. The most common termite species seen in the United States is the eastern subterranean termite. While harmless to humans, these pests can inflict detrimental structural damage in a short period of time. Here we explore what termites are, what they look like, why you may be experiencing a termite infestation, and how to prevent these insects from harming your residence.
What Are Termites?
Termites are classified as eusocial insects and typically live in colonies that feed on plant matter (such as wood). Recent studies have shown that these insects evolved from cockroaches, with the first appearance of termites dating back to thousands of years ago. These insects divide themselves similarly to wasps and bees, with designated “worker” and soldier” termites being sterile and the “kings” and “queens” of the colony being fertile. Termites are one of the most widespread insect groups in the world, as they can be found on almost every continent.
Termite colonies vary in size and can be anywhere from a few hundred insects to millions of insects in one colony. These colonies are concerned superorganisms, as the termites inside each colony contribute in a way that makes the colony completing self-regulating. Each termite experiences an incomplete metamorphosis in which it changes from egg to nymph and finally to its adult stage.
Dampwood termites: This termite variety lives in areas with wet wood, such as damp homes with dying wood. They feed on wet or very damp wood.
Drywood termites: These termites live in dry-wood areas and can dig tunnels and nest in buildings. They eat plastics, wallpaper, wood, and fabric.
Formosan termites: This termite variety is the largest and most destructive type of termite, and they typically reside in large underground colonies. They eat fabric made from plants and wood.
Subterranean termites: These termites require soil to survive and live in underground colonies or in moist areas aboveground. They eat fabric, wallpaper, plastic, and wood.
What Do Termites Look Like?
Termites are very small, measuring between just 4 to 15 millimeters. Each different species of termite will vary in its characteristics, but most species look similar to the human eye. They have straight antennae and soft bodies. The colors of a termite vary between white and light brown. Some termites, known as reproductive termites, have two wings and can fly.
The following are descriptions of the most prominent termite species:
Dampwood termites: A long, narrow body; brownish in color, two wings; two antennae.
Drywood termites: A long, narrow body; light brown in color; two wings; two antennae.
Formosan termite: A long, narrow body; yellow to light brown in color; two wings; two antennae.
Subterranean termites: A long, narrow body; creamy brown in color; two wings; two antennae.
Why Do I Have Termites?
The most common species of termites you may find in your home are subterranean, drywood, and dampwood termites. Subterranean termites typically reside in the ground and will go back and forth from the wood they eat to their underground colony. Drywood and dampwood termites reside in the wood they are eating.
There are several factors that may contribute to termites in your home. Each species of termite is attracted to wood, but each species also has a specific preference for the wood they consume. Dampwood and drywood termites look for damp and dry woods, respectively, while subterranean termites require moist soil close by and will eat any wood that’s close to or in contact with the earth.
The following are factors that contribute to an infestation of termites in your home:
Regular, round-the-year humidity.
Moisture, which could be caused by poor airflow, leaky pipes, and subpar drainage.
Wood that’s touching your home’s foundation, such as firewood, mulch, and overgrown shrubs.
Fissures or cracks in your home’s foundations.
Gaps in siding.
Knowing what to look for is key when determining if you’re dealing with a termite infestation. A few signs to keep an eye out for include:
Cast-off wings in or around your home.
Damaged wood that feels soft when you touch it.
Mud tubes (shelter tubes) made from dirt that are brown and about the width of a pencil.
If you notice signs of a termite infestation, a professional pest control company can help confirm your suspicions and get the infestation under control before it causes further damage to your home.
How to Keep Your Home Termite-Free
Preventing termites from infesting your home is the best way to avoid costly damages to your home’s structure. There are several things you can do to keep your home termite-free, including:
Fixing inadequate drainage. Most termites require moisture to survive, meaning that insufficient drainage around your house can make for an ideal place for a termite infestation. Ensuring that your downspouts are taking water away from your house and that your A/C drip lines and faucets aren’t pooling water around foundation can help prevent excess moisture. Clogged gutters can also create moisture, so regularly cleaning your gutters will also contribute to your termite prevention efforts.
Moving mulch away from your foundation. Mulch is typically made from wood, and moist mulch is a perfect environment for termites to nest in. Keep your mulch raked away from your foundation to prevent termites from infesting that area.
Keeping firewood and other wood away from your home. Make sure you keep any forms of wood, such as firewood, away from the actual foundation of your home.
Having professional termite control specialists regularly treat your home. Regularly having your home treated is one of the best ways to prevent termite infestation.
Termite infestation can cause serious damage to your home. For information regarding termite infestation and how to prevent it, contact Bulwark Exterminating today.