Termite Treatment Facts

Subterranean termites are the most economically important wood-destroying organisms in the United States, with approximately $2 billion per year spent for their prevention & treatment. Termite control is of particular interest to homeowners, considering that a home typically represents their largest monetary investment.

Termites feed on materials that contain cellulose, primarily dead wood and wood by-products. Subterranean termites are closely associated with their soil habitat, where they excavate a network of tunnels through the soil to reach water and food. These termites need moisture to survive.

Detection of Termites

It is important for homeowners to recognize the signs of a subterranean termite infestation. Subterranean termites may be detected by the sudden emergence of winged termites (alates or swarmers), or by the presence of mud tubes and wood damage.

Termites or Ants?**

It is often difficult to determine the difference between termites and ants. Here are some ways to tell:

  • Termites have two pairs of wings (front and back) that are of almost equal length.
  • Ants also have two pairs of wings but the fore wings are much larger than the hind wings.
  • Ants generally do not swarm at the same time as termites, but it can happen
  • Termites have a thick waist and ants have a narrow waist
  • Termites have straight antennae and ants have elbowed antennae

Wood Damage

Termite damage to the wood’s surface often is not evident because termites excavate galleries within materials as they feed. Wood attacked by subterranean termites generally has a honeycombed appearance because termites feed along the grain on the softer spring growth wood. Their excavations in wood often are packed with soil, and fecal spotting is evident. When inspecting for termites, it is useful to probe wood with a knife or flat blade screwdriver to detect areas that have been hollowed. Severely damaged wood may have a hollow sound when it is tapped.

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