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TERMITES

By the time you realize you have Termites, there may be extensive damage to your home. Termites cause over $5 billion in property damage annually and homeowners spend about $2.2 billion a year to control them.

There are five basic types of Termites; the Eastern, Western and Desert Subterranean; the Formosan and the Drywood. In the Northeast, due to harsh winters, we only encounter the Eastern Subterranean Termite. This species, the most common, can survive in areas with an average annual temperature is as low as -22 degrees, allowing them to flourish anywhere humans build homes.

Soldier termite eastern subterraneanThe Eastern Subterranean Termite is very organized, with a caste system with Worker, Soldier and Swarmers (each has a specific duty and appearance to assist them in their work). Worker Termites are creamy white with a slightly darker head. They’re 1/8 of an inch long and completely blind and sterile. Their job is to gather food (timber and cellulose), construct and repair tunnels, feed the colony and care for the nymphs until they mature. Workers are the most extensive caste in the colony (consisting of anywhere from 60,000 to 1 million) and cause the majority of the damage in homes.

Soldier Termites are also creamy white in color, but their heads are noticeably darker and have a larger, rectangular head. Also, they have pinchers at the front of their heads used to crush any attacking ants. Their job is to protect the colony. Soldiers can be seen in large numbers guarding a breech in the nest. Swarmer Termites often tip homeowners off of an infestation. They’re also the largest, measuring 3/8 of an inch (due to their wings, which extend far beyond the length of their bodies). Swarmers are also much darker in color (a dark brown). Similar to ants, Swarmers are responsible for the colony’s reproduction. If the environmental conditions are right, they will swarm in the spring, often after a rain.

Swarming TermitesWhen Termites swarm, they search out for Swarmers from other colonies to create an entirely new colony nearby. Males and females will pair off and burrow into the ground, just below the frost line but above the water table. These Swarmers than become the king and queen of the new colony. A typical Termite nesting spot will have easy access to moisture and timber so the colony can survive. Typical nesting grounds include living trees, free-standing poles and areas of homes that readily collect moisture, especially by leaky plumbing. The queen only produces a few eggs during the first year, but once she’s mature, will produce 5,000–10,000 eggs a year and producing Swarmers by the third or fourth year of the colony’s existence meaning a termite infestation can be extensive before a homeowner even knows there’s a problem. Termites can enter your home through a crack as small as 1/16 of an inch, and a fully mature colony can consume about 2 1/3 feet of a 2x4 board in a year.

Since Termites can sneak up on your home quickly, the question remains: what can you do? The most important thing to do is call Accurate Termite & Pest Control and have a professional inspection done. Our staff is highly trained in identifying a termite infestation even in its early stages. It can be very difficult to spot the difference between Termite tunnels (mud tubes) and moisture damage. So, if you see wood damage near your foundation and wonder if it might be from Termites, CALL us immediately! A Termite inspection should always be done before the purchase of a new home and every few years after that to stay on top of new infestations. Conditions around your home can change from year to year, allowing Termites to start a new colony at any time. Remember, it is better to pay for inspections now than to pay for extensive termite damage later!

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