There are three main termite types – subterranean, drywood or dampwood.

Each species has unique biology and behavior that impact specific part of the country they live in and damage homes.

Subterranean termites build underground nests connected to aboveground food sources via mud tunnels. These underground termites are responsible for the majority of termite damage to homes and buildings in the U.S. On average, there could be as many as 13 to 14 subterranean termite colonies per acre, which means that a typical home may easily have three to four colonies situated under or around it. There can be as many as 1,000,000 subterranean termites per colony; the threat of infestation becomes a very real one indeed.

Subterranean termites cause more damage to homes in U.S. than storms and fire combined; colonies can contain up to 1,000,000 members.

Subterranean termites nest in the soil to obtain moisture, but they also nest in wood that is often wet. They easily attack any wood in contact with the ground. If the wood does not contact the soil, termites can build mud tunnels or tubes to reach wood several feet above the ground. They can also enter a structure through expansion joints in concrete slabs or where utilities enter the house.

Winged termites emerging from the ground out-of-doors near the house do not necessarily mean the house is infested, but it is a good reason to check further. Termites in the wood of homes or other buildings usually come from colonies already established in the soil.

Subterranean Termite Biology – Nymphs , Soldiers, Workers, Reproductives.

Drywood termites are social insects that live in colonies in sound, dry wood. Each colony consists of offspring from an original pair (male and female). There are three growth stages – eggs, immatures and adults. Drywood termites are larger than local, southwestern subterranean species.

In comparison to other termites drywood colonies are rather small (a few thousand individuals), and the colony develops relatively slowly. They neither live in the ground nor maintain contact with the soil, and they do not build mud tubes.

Dead trees, branches, brush and firewood from residential areas are the primary habitat of drywood termites. When land is cleared and houses or other buildings constructed, these structures are then subject to attack. Drywood termites enter structures through attic or foundation vents, directly through or under wood shingles, under eaves and fascia boards, and through natural cracks, checks and joints in exposed wood trim, window and door frames and sills. Drywood termite alates can penetrate flat wood surfaces, but prefer to wedge themselves into narrow places to begin tunneling. Most new homes are constructed on concrete slabs and have tile roofs. However, attic areas are normally vented and wood trim is still commonly used externally.

Dampwood termites only attack moist wood. They frequently attack the underground parts of shrubs and small trees, fence posts, baseboards, tree stumps, fallen tree branches and doorframes of buildings. They are also commonly found in old wood decks, leaky roof eaves, leaky showers/tubs or substructures with inadequate ventilation or plumbing leaks.

Although not subterranean in nature, dampwood termites often nest in wood beneath the soil. They don’t require contact with soil in order to obtain moisture for survival, but wood with a high degree of moisture is needed. Therefore they are often found in cool, humid areas along the coast.

They swarm (in small groups) periodically throughout the year and it is common to see the swarming reproductives caught in spider webs next to exterior lights, as they are instinctively attracted to light. Dampwood termites produce faecal pellets similar to the drywood termite, but it is slightly larger with a more irregular shape. Chemical treatment may not be necessary for the control of dampwood termites. Since they require timber with high moisture content, correction of the problem can be as simple as replacing the damaged timber in conjunction with eliminating the moisture source.

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