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The Most Common Questions About Termites

For most people, termites elicit a cringe factor, along with some significant concern about their home and property. To help answer and ease your fears, the following are frequently asked questions about termites and their behavior, which explore the essential information about termites and what attracts them. Armed with this knowledge and the support of a pest control provider, like your local Eliminate ‘Em team, you’ll be better able to safeguard your home with preventative maintenance or termite extermination services, if necessary.

What are termite colonies?

Large social networks of termites, known as termite colonies, operate through a highly organized caste system. The workers (typically over 90% of that colony), soldiers and reproductive termites each have their own functions and behaviors within the group. The characteristics of each colony and associated damage varies depending on the type of termite populating that colony.

What are some signs of termites in my yard?

In addition to termite damage inside the home, there may also be signs of termites in your yard, such as termite mud tubes and termite tunnels. Although both mud tubes and tunnels can also be located inside of a building, they are often easier to see along a structure’s foundation or on decaying or untreated wood around the property. Orange or brownish mud tubes are approximately the size of a pinky, can be several feet in length and may connect to termite mounds. Termite tunnels vary in appearance based on the species and surrounding environment.

How many types of termites are there?

There are more than 2,000 different types of termites in existence. In addition to this general overview of the types of termites, each link below includes additional specifics for the termite or category of termite species listed.

  • Subterranean termites are perhaps the most well-known for the significant damage that they can cause and their ability to survive in many different locations. These termites are also the type most commonly found in New England.
  • Formosan termites have incredible appetites and sizable colonies which enable them to wreak havoc upon residential and commercial buildings.
  • Dampwood termites may prefer the moisture availability in forests, but water damage to wooden structures may also appeal to them.
  • Drywood termites mostly reside in warmer, southern climates, and their colonies develop at a slower rate than other termites.
  • Conehead termites can be extremely invasive and quickly cause damage to surrounding areas, but they are currently found primarily in Florida and the Caribbean.

What attracts termites?

Checking a building’s interior spaces as well as its exterior and surrounding property for termite attractions can help with prevention and early termite detection. Inside, areas where wooden structures are impacted or compromised by water leaks or are otherwise moist and warm may attract termites. Outside, examine the building’s foundation for any entry points like cracks or holes and remove any wood piles or other rotting leaves that are near it. Professional attic and basement cleanouts, as well as other exclusion tactics, also help reduce the potential for a termite infestation.

What do termites look like?

Although termite appearance varies by species, termites do share some similar features. In addition to being quite small (approximately .25-.5 inches in size), they are generally pale white in color though the shade may differ depending on their role in the colony. They have long antennas on their heads and soft bodies that don’t show segmentation, which is one way to distinguish them from the ants with which they are often confused. Typically, only the reproductive termites have wings, but these wings are shed after mating.

How long do termites live?

The termite life cycle has three stages. It begins with the egg stage and, within a few weeks, transitions into the nymph state. After their molting process, they enter the third stage of adulthood in which they are now responsible for performing their designated duties to the colony. For reproductive termites, the life cycle also includes a swarming process.

What do termites eat?

Termites are most known for eating or consuming wood. Cellulose from the wood is central to their diet, and it can also be found in other dead or decaying plant material like grass or fallen tree branches, paper and cardboard products, and even drywall, insulation and fabrics. Consequently, signs that termites are eating your home or other buildings may include chewed wallpaper, peeling paint or pinholes in the wall in addition to damage to wood structures.

What creatures eat termites?

Birds like woodpeckers enjoy eating termites, as do assorted ant species. Mammals like aardvarks and anteaters also consume termites as part of their diets, as well as certain types of reptiles that can also break into termite mounds to find this food source.

What else should I know about termite behavior?

In addition to worrying about attracting termites and the damage that termites can cause, people often wonder whether or not termites fly or if termites bite. While most termites cannot fly, the reproductive members of the colony do so for a brief period of time. However, if you see dropped wings or a swarm itself near your home, these signs may indicate that a termite infestation is present, nearby or is starting to develop. Similarly, although termites rarely bite people or animals, the bites that they take out of the wood and other cellulose-containing materials in your home may pose significant safety risks.

At Eliminate ‘Em, we understand how intrusive, disruptive and stressful worrying about a termite problem and having a termite issue can be. The best way to protect your property and your loved ones is by taking proactive steps to prevent termites from invading. For routine maintenance or immediate termite extermination services, contact Eliminate ‘Em today to speak directly with a team member. Our pest control and extermination professionals offer same-day service in addition to scheduled appointments, so let us help you address your termite or other pest and wildlife removal needs today!