- Termites are insects. They have hard, saw-toothed jaws that help them to eat lumber, wallpaper, plastics, and fabric made of plant fibers.
- There are four different groups of termites: dampwood, drywood, subterranean and mound builders. Dampwood termites like to live and feed in very moist wood. Drywood termites can survive in very dry conditions and do not need moisture or soil. Subterranean termites are very common and live and breed in soil. Mound builders live in Africa, Australia, Southeast Asia and part of South America; they are able to build large earthen towers 25 feet or higher.
- Termites can be found in almost every state as well as Mexico and parts of Canada. They favor warmer climates and actively avoid light. (See range map below)
- As a species, termites date back to the time of the dinosaurs.
- Termites are 24/7 bugs, which means they eat non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They feed on wood and may also destroy paper products such as books, cardboard, boxes and anything containing cellulose. Even buildings with steel framing and masonry walls are targets because of the wooden door and window frames, cabinets and shelving within the buildings.
- Termites live in underground colonies, some containing over two million members.
- The social structure of a colony includes the queen, king, winged reproductive swarmers, soldiers, and workers. Worker termites are small creamy white insects. They are the most numerous and the cause of all the termite damage.
- Swarmers, or winged reproductives, are termites that leave the colony to mate, reproduce and start new colonies.
- In a large nest, a queen and king may live for 15 years, with the queen laying up to one egg every 15 seconds for most of her life.
- Termites can cause serious damage to structures often long before they are discovered, i.e., more than $1.5 billion in property damage a year to over 600,000 homes in the United States.
- How do termites enter the home? The most common termite, the subterranean, builds its nest in the ground. These termites construct mud tubes that are used to explore for food and connect their underground nest to that food source. They can enter a building without direct wood contact with the soil through such tubes. They can find their way into a structure through an opening as small as 1/32 of an inch (smaller than the size of a pinhead!).
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