Termites are eurosocial insects that live in colonies and often number several hundreds or millions at a given time. Their colonies are decentralized but well organized. Activity is guided by swarm intelligence that exploits sources of food and environments unavailable to an insect acting alone. A termite colony comprises of workers, alates (winged male and female insects), egg laying queens and immature workers. Basically these insects feed on dead plant material such as litter, animal, dung, soil and wood. Termites are known as some of the most destructive pests as they can cause serious damage to buildings or crops. Since these insects are highly destructive termite species identification is critical to enable home owners to get rid of them effectively.
Basic warning signs that can help you in termite identification include:
- Bubbling or cracked paint
- Wood that produces a hollow sound when tapped
- Muddy tubes on wooden beams or exterior walls
- A temporary swarm of alates or winged termites in your home or near the home
- Discarded wings from the winged insects
There are several types of termites, these include:
They are considered as the most destructive since they are very difficult to eliminate. These insects work rapidly in huge colonies and reside in deep tunnels around the home. They often make mud tubes which enable them to travel from the soil to the wood inside your home. Subterranean termites are usually so ravenous that they even eat fiberboard.
These insects basically enter homes through unsealed or cracked foundations since they travel underground and but come to the surface to access food. Their tunnels usually appear as dry brown cylindrical structures. If you find such tunnels close to the foundation of your home it is a sure sign of subterranean termites’ infestation. The insects can also be indentified by winged termites that are often seen around doors and windows since they are highly attracted to light. These winged or swarming termites are usually active in springtime .After mating they locate new sites and create a new colony thus spreading infestations in several locations.
Baiting is the only way to eliminate them although it takes some time to get rid of the whole colony. This method is effective since individual insects take the bait back to the colony which gradually dies off.
These insects make their home within the wood on which they feed and often burrow mazes in walls and furniture. Most of the times they leave small piles of droppings that look similar to sawdust. They are usually found in warm climates and are very common in the US. Drywood termites are larger than the subterranean termites and approximately measure 11/2 inch long. This type of termites does not need ground connection in order to thrive since they create colonies in wood. Basically their diet comprises of wood although they can also feed on cellulose material.
Nymphs of drywood termites go through several phases before attaining adulthood. These termites require very little moisture and usually thrive in attics. Their droppings are commonly found on places such as windowsill where they may appear like pellets. When a colony matures swarms of winged male and female termites are produced. These fly out during warm temperatures and heavy rains to form new colonies.
They are less destructive than most of the other types and also least likely to invade your home. Dampwood insects rely heavily on moisture to survive and thrive on damp rotten wood. These insects make termite identification easier for home owners as they are commonly found in paper or wood piles, rotten roof shingles and under sinks in the wood of wet cabinet as result of leaking plumbing. Dampwood termites can be easily prevented by moving paper and wood away from the home. Eliminating dampwood termites require that you fix leaking plumbing and prevent moisture buildup since these two factors are ideal for their infestation.
Termite identification and elimination is important since it is estimated that these insect cause over one billion dollars of damage to homes in the US annually. Unlike other calamities such as fires, storms and hurricanes which is often covered in insurance policies termite damage is rarely covered. Damage caused by these insects is also often underestimated since most homeowners believe that they do not need to take serious measures to prevent it.