Here at American Pest Solutions, we visit so many homes where termites are an issue, we thought it might be helpful if we could give our clients a simple, no-nonsense overview of this wood-destroying insect.
What do termites eat?
Termites will eat anything that has a wood pulp or cellulose base. This can include everything from structural timber to books, magazines, record album covers, and even the paper on sheetrock under paint or wallpaper! Termites return to the colony/nest frequently and share food by regurgitating it.
Where do termites live? Do they live in my house?
The northeast region only has the eastern subterranean species, so those termites that are may be infesting your home actually live15-25 feet underground, and perhaps as far as 50 yards or more from your house.
Are termites white or black, and do they have wings?
The answer is YES. Worker termites that are actually inside your house are usually a creamy white color. Termite swarmers, which are the redproductives, have black bodies and wings that are probably 2 ½ times their body length. Nature has designed these wings so that they break off after a few short “flights”. This keeps the termites close to the source of food (possibly… your house).
How can I tell the difference between winged ants and termites?
Winged ants and termite swarmers (the reproductive members of the colony) are often hard to tell apart. Rather than try to explain the differences, we thought we'd include this helpful illustration.
How much damage can termites do?
Each home presents a different set of problems, but we recently inspected a 9-year old garage where termites had consumed roughly 30+ pounds of lumber, destroying the garage door casings and header completely. The garage had vinyl siding and the doorframe was flashed in aluminum. Cosmetically it looked fine from a distance, but removal of the flashing revealed the voided wood underneath. The only clue was excessive sand/dust falling from the header. Termites are not harmless pests; they will cause extensive damage if left untreated.
What are the consequences of putting off a termite treatment when we know they are active inside?
A good analogy would be to compare the problem to a dental situation. If you have a cavity you get a filling and that should solve the problem. If you wait a year, chances are you will need a crown and the cost could escalate to 10 times the amount. Likewise, with termites you could wind up having to have major construction work on your home if you let termite activity go unchecked in your home.
Do I really need to be worried about these small insects?
Think of termites as miniature dump trucks, traveling on a marked highway from their colony/nest to your house. During termite season, empty trucks are bumper to bumper coming in and full trucks are bumper to bumper going back to the colony 24/7. What they lack in size they make up in numbers. A typical termite colony can number 300,000 to 3,000,000 workers. Think in terms of a 55-gallon drum full of squirming grains of rice… that’s a small colony.
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