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Know Your Enemy: Common Types of Termites

There are three major types of termites common in North America, and at least one of them can be found in almost every corner of the continent:

  • Subterranean Termites
  • Formosan Subterranean Termites
  • Drywood Termites

These termites all have difference in biology and colony structure, but they all share one important behavior: they all eat the wood in your home. Here’s a quick guide to each of these destructive pests. And remember: if you have any questions about termites, give Terminix a call. A representative is on hand at all times to answer your questions.

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Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites are the most common type of termite in America, and between the Eastern and Western varieties, can be found in almost every state. Subterranean termites live in colonies of up to several hundred thousand members, which are built in the ground surrounding your home. They enter your home to feed on the wood via “shelter tubes,” or covered bridges between the ground and wood which they use to pass safely. Subterranean termites can be difficult to get rid of because their colonies can be quite large.

There are two primary treatments for subterranean termites: bait traps, and liquid barriers. Bait traps provide a tainted food source for the termites, who eat the food and then transport the termiticide back to the colony, where it’s spread among the members, killing the colony. Liquid barriers act as “moats” around your home, and though some termites may cross the barrier, they won’t live long enough to get inside to begin munching on your house. Often, a combination of these methods is employed to eradicate any current infestations and prevent new ones from developing.

Drywood Termites

Found primarily in dry, warm environments such as the American Southwest, drywood termites are the second most common type of termite found in America. While subterranean termites live underground and venture into your home for food, drywood termites are a little different: they actually live inside the wood in your home. Drywood termites hollow out timber and create their colonies inside of it. Because of this, their colonies are relatively small compared to those of subterranean termites, usually housing about 3,000 individuals each. However, drywood termites are great swarmers, so multiple colonies have been known to infect the same structure.

Treatment for drywood termites usually comes in two categories: treatments applied directly to the wood, and whole-structure fumigation. Direct-wood treatments are the first step in eradicating these pests, and it is very effective, but it is absolutely crucial that your pest control technician is an expert like those employed by Terminix, because he or she has to find every colony to make sure direct-wood treatments are effective. In cases of extreme infestation by drywood termites, whole-structure fumigation is the best option to ensure that all of these destructive insects are destroyed.

The drywood termite also has a cousin, the dampwood termite, with similar behaviors, except that they prefer damp, rotting wood to dry, healthy timber, so are usually found in areas with higher humidity.

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Formosan Subterranean Termites

Though these recent transplants from Asia are the most talked-about termites in America, they are not particularly prevalent throughout much of the country, only being found in the Southeast, Texas, parts of California, and Hawaii. You may have heard that Formosan termites are “aggressive,” but in reality, individuals do not eat more wood than other species of termite. The difference is in the size of the colony. While the largest domestic subterranean colonies top just over a million members, the largest colony of Formosan termites to date contained over 70,000,000 termites!

Because of their large colony size, suspected Formosan infestations are serious matters and require urgent intervention from Terminix. The methods used to control Formosan termites are the same as those used to control domestic subterranean termites, but Formosan infestations require more intense monitoring and upkeep. If you suspect you have a Formosan infestation, call Terminix immediately!