Termites are among the most successful groups of insects on Earth, colonising most landmasses except for Antarctica. Their colonies range in size from a few hundred individuals to enormous societies with several million individuals. Termite queens have the longest lifespan of any insect in the world, with some queens reportedly living up to 30 to 50 years. Unlike ants, which undergo a complete metamorphosis, each individual termite goes through an incomplete metamorphosis that proceeds through egg, nymph, and adult stages. Colonies are described as superorganisms because the termites form part of a self-regulating entity: the colony itself.
Termites are usually small, measuring between 4 to 15 millimetres (0.16 to 0.59 in) in length.The largest of all extant termites are the queens of the species Macrotermes bellicosus, measuring up to over 10 centimetres (4 in) in length. Another giant termite, the extinct Gyatermes styriensis, flourished in Austria during the Miocene and had a wingspan of 76 millimetres (3.0 in) and a body length of 25 millimetres (0.98 in).
Termites are often called the silent destroyers because they can damage your home without you noticing. Learn more about the types of wood termites eat.
Termites seek out cellulose, the most plentiful organic compound found in nature. It is the main building block of plants and found in many materials humans use every day. Termites feed on many of these materials to get the cellulose they need: plants, plant byproducts, cotton fibers (your t-shirt, for example), paper products and, of course, wood.
Subterranean termites like to eat the soft fibers of springwood and leave the harder summerwood behind. Wood eaten by subterranean termites resembles a honeycomb, and many of its galleries contain dirt and fecal particles.
Drywood termites seek out dry wood such as the wood in your home’s framing, structural timbers, hardwood floors and furniture. They do not make contact with the soil and are able to glean the water they need directly from the wood they inhabit. When drywood termites are eating wood, the damage looks smooth.
Dampwood termites like moist wood and often can be found eating dead or decaying tree stumps and logs. They rarely infest buildings.
Visable Damage: Cracked or distorted paint on wood surfaces.Tiny holes in wood surfaces. Wood may have a hollow sound wen tapped.Sunken or rippled wall coverings Look for dirt in the wood, which indicates termite damage rather than simply water damage.
Discarded Wings: You may find small piles of wings in spider webs and on surfaces around your home’s foundation, like window sills.
Termite Droppings: After consuming wood, drywood termites often leave behind frass or droppings. These tiny fecal mounds often indicate a nearby termite infestation.Often mixed with sawdust from the wood. May have a musty odor.
Termites cause over seven billion dollars in damage to homes across the United States every year. Florida accounts for close to one third of that damage.