Eastern Subterranean Termites

March 22, 2014


This is the most common and widely distributed termite in North America. Termites cause more than one billion dollars in damage to American homes every year. That’s more than fires, storms and earthquakes combined.

A full-blown colony of termites can eat several pounds of wood in your home every week. Damage by Termites is not sudden and will not cause a building to collapse in a few days.

A typical mature colony may consist of 60,000 to over a million workers. Termites feed upon old roots, tree stumps, fallen tree limbs and branches on the ground, and similar materials. In buildings, they feed on structural wood, wood fixtures, paper, books, cotton, and related products.

A large colony can eat about a pound of wood a day. 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.

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.

Subterranean termites do not reduce wood to a powdery mass, and they do not create wood particles or pellets, as do many other wood-boring insects.

During late winter or early spring, swarms of the reproductive caste may be noticed in infested buildings. These black, winged termites are the stage most commonly seen, since the other castes do not willingly expose themselves to light. Winged termites are attracted to light, and when they emerge within buildings, they swarm about doors and windows. After crawling or fluttering about for a short time, the termites break off their wings and locate a mate. Each pair attempts to locate moist wood in contact with the soil to start a new colony, but few succeed. Although they alarm the homeowner and can be a nuisance, no damage is done by the winged forms.

Subterranean termites travel in these mud shelter tubes as protection from predators, sun-burn, and dehydration and to maintain a high humidity environment which is essential for their survival. Eastern subterranean termites have acute survival instincts. If they are shaken up or disturbed, the termites often will abandon the associated area and move on to other areas in the building.

If you find eastern subterranean termites in or around your property, it is essential that you do NOT disturb them and promptly arrange for a professional inspection and application. Call us today at 302-645-1502 to schedule a free inspection.

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