Types of Termites and the Damage they cause:
About 2,800 species of termites exist on the planet. However, there are just a few types we humans need to worry about:
- Subterranean termites
- Drywood termites
- Dampwood termites
- Formosan termites
Let’s understand these briefly:
Subterranean termites, also known as ground termites, live underground in groups or colonies. Their main source of food is wood, and they’ll tunnel underground up to 150 feet to find it. This source of wood could be your house. Subterranean termites are found throughout the United States, but are scarce in colder climates. These termites can destroy home foundations, support beams, plastic pipes, insulation and more.
Drywood termites live above ground, preferring to make their homes inside wood and trees. They don’t need moisture in their nests and instead get it from humidity in the air. You’ll find more of them in the Southeast United States. Drywood termites live inside wood, eating it from within. They like to make homes in attics, door frames and window frames. Wood that’s infested with drywood termites may look fine from the outside but actually be crumbling from within.
Dampwood termites like to build their colonies in damp, decaying wood, as their name implies. Considered an economic pest along the Pacific coast, they’re also sometimes found in the desert of the American Southwest. They’re attracted to damp wood, so homes with moisture or plumbing issues can be affected. Dampwood termite damage looks smooth and clean inside.
Formosan termites are considered the most destructive of all termite types. These pests arrived in the United States from mainland China via Taiwan, entering the country through various port cities. Interesting tidbit: Scientists believe these termites spread across the U.S via infested wooden railroad stakes. Most common to Louisiana, Formosan termites may infest up to 30% of trees in the state. These termites will infest wood and other cellulose – based goods and will invade boats and live trees.
Termites work unbelievably fast and despite their tiny size can cause large amounts of damage.
Wood & Termite Damage
Termites are a common insect, known by many names, including “white ants” or the “silent destroyers”. Whatever you call them, these hungry little insects are capable of causing a lot of damage if they get into your home’s foundation, windows, or doors.
The termite’s closest relative is another common household pest: “The cockroach”. They live in colonies, like bees and ants, with an equal number of males and females.
Some species of termites have been relocated to parts of the world far away from their native land as stowaways on ships, hidden in the wood of crates, lumber, furniture — even in the structure of the boats themselves.
There’s good news about termites and then there’s bad news. As an important part of the ecosystem, they feed on dead plants and trees, including wood and plant matter in the soil. On the beneficial side, their voracious feeding habits help convert plant cellulose into substances that help support new growth. They measure only around a centimeter in length, but their mouths are capable of tearing off big chunks of food.
On the other hand, termites can cause costly damage to wooden structures and crops. Interestingly, termites that aren’t native species to an area can cause the most damage; away from their natural element, they seek shelter in man-made buildings, causing tremendous damage to houses and furniture.
There are many areas where your house has wood that you cannot easily inspect. This includes the wood under your house, the wood inside your walls, and inside the attic. If you want to keep an eye on these areas for termite damage you will have to be intentional about making the time to crawl under the house or climb into the attic. There are other areas around your home made from wood that you can easily check for termite damage as often as you like. These areas include the wood around your windows and doors.
To prevent termites from invading your home, keep moisture problems at bay, monitor areas where wood touches moist soil, and move possible food sources like wood piles away from the house. It’s wise to schedule a regular termite treatment plan that may include inspection and treatment to prevent any problems from occurring.