There are three species of Termite in the United States: Dampwood, Drywood and Subterranean.
Dampwood Termites prefer wet wood and commonly live in heavily forested areas of the country.
Drywood Termites prefer extremely dry wood and are rare in the United States.
Subterranean Termites mostly live in soil and thrive in moist environments. These Termites are the most destructive species.Subterranean Termites will often build mud tubes for travel between their colonies and their food sources.
Termite eggs are yellowish-white and hatch after an incubation of 50 to 60 days.
The mature Termite colony has three castes:
- Reproductives – Winged reproductives (commonly called swarmers) are dark brown to brownish-black and have two pairs of equal sized wings that extend beyond their body. Swarms are common in the Spring and Fall, especially after rain. After flight, the winged males and females return to the ground and shed their wings. The wingless males and females pair up and search for sources of wood and moisture in soil where they dig a chamber and seal the opening. After mating, the queen begins laying eggs.
- Soldiers – Soldiers are creamy white in color, soft-bodied, wingless and blind. The head of the soldier is large and elongated, brownish, hard and equipped with two jaws. Soldiers cannot feed themselves and rely on the Workers for nourishment. They are less numerous in the colony than Workers and their only function is to defend the colony against invaders. Soldiers mature within a year and can live up to 5 years
- Workers – Soft bodied, wingless, blind and creamy white. In early stages, they are fed predigested food by the king and queen. Once Workers are able to digest wood, they provide food for the entire colony. Workers perform all the labor in the colony such as obtaining food, feeding other caste members, excavating wood, and constructing tunnels. Workers mature within a year and live from 3 to 5 years.
Queens can live up to 25 years and lay more than 60,000 eggs in their lifetime.
A colony’s queen can lay up to 2,000 eggs in a day and adds 5,000 to 10,000 eggs per year to the total population.
A mature Subterranean Termite colony can range from a low of 20,000 to a high of 5,000,000.
Kings and queens can live for 10 to 30 years while workers live for about two years.
Termites have protozoa (microorganisms) in their intestines that provide enzymes to digest cellulose.
Cellulose (especially wood) is the main food source for Subterranean Termites which is found in wood roots, stumps, mulch, cotton, drywall, paper, etc.
An average sized Subterranean Termite colony can consume 5 grams of wood per day. This is equivalent to 2 1/3 linear feet of a 2’x4′ pine board annually.
While searching for food, Termites can tunnel through indigestible materials such as foam insulation, plaster board, etc.
Termites cause an estimated $5 billion of property damage every year.
Termites eat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week which means damage to wood in and around a structure can happen very quickly.
Subterranean Termites can enter buildings through cracks less than 1/16″ wide.
Termite’s #1 enemy is ants.
Since Termites feed on wood, they serve an important function in nature as they convert dead trees into organic matter. Regrettably, Termites don’t discriminate between dead trees and wood used in and around your home.