Termites

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Termites are among the most destructive wood-destroying insects in the world. Termites are rare where we live, but in southern states, termites are estimated to cause billions of dollars in damage each year.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE TERMITES?

  • Winged termites inside your house are a sure sign of an infestation.

  • Termite infestations are often discovered in April and May. Triggered by warmer temperatures and rainfall, large numbers of winged termites, known as "swarmers," emerge from the colony and fly into the air to start new colonies. Swarming termites are another sure sign of a termite infestation.

  • Mud tubes on walls, along baseboards or in cracks and crevices are also indications of a subterranean termite infestation.

  • Drywood termites do not live in the ground nor do they build mud tubes.

  • Wood-colored droppings called frass is produced by termites as they eat their way through infested wood. Finding frass is another indication of a termite infestation.

WHAT DO TERMITES LOOK LIKE?

  • Drywood termites are the most common termites found in Minnesota; though, some cases of subterranean termites are confirmed in some parts of the state. 

  • Winged adults (called alates) have two pairs of equal length wings.

  • The front set of wings of drywood termites has a pattern of three or more heavy, well-pigmented veins in the outer part of that front wing.

  • Drywood alates shed their wings soon after swarming, so most dead alate bodies do not have attached wings.

  • Examining dead termites is a good way to differentiate drywood termites from subterranean termite because dead subterranean alates can be found with attached wings.

  • Drywood termite alates can be up to 7/16” in length.

  • Immature drywood termites are wingless, white to beige in color, ¼” to 3/8” in length and make up the largest number of termites within a colony.

  • Soldier drywood termites are about 5/16” in length.

  • Termites have a soft body and the waist is not pinched

  • Drywood termite soldiers have large mandibles (mouthparts) with teeth.

  • The pronotum of a drywood termite is as wide as or wider than its head

  • Worker and soldier termites have very small or no eyes at all, while the winged forms have eyes.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE ANTS OR TERMITES?

  • Ants have a “pinched waist” between the thorax and the rest of the abdomen while termites do not.

  • The rear wings of ants are much smaller than their front wings while the two pairs of wings on termites are approximately equal in size.

  • Ant antennae are elbowed after the first two segments while termite antennae are not elbowed but look like a string of beads.

ARE TERMITES DANGEROUS?

  • No, termites do not pose a health risk to humans.

  • Termites do not bite people.

  • Soldier termites have the ability to pinch humans if handled, but their jaws are too small to leave a mark.

CAN MY HOUSE BE DAMAGED BY TERMITES?

  • Yes, termites can cause significant damage to your house.

I THINK I HAVE TERMITES IN MY HOME, WHAT DO I DO?

  • Don’t panic. Termites work very slowly, so your home is not going to fall down over night.

  • Call Adam’s Pest Control. We will inspect your house and determine whether you actually have termites or another wood boring insect. We will recommend proper treatment and give you a cost estimate.

HOW DO DRYWOOD TERMITES GET INTO MY HOUSE?

  • Drywood termites enter structures through attic or foundation vents, directly through or under wood shingles, under eaves and fascia boards, and through natural cracks, checks and joints in exposed wood trim, window and door frames and sills.

WHAT DO TERMITES EAT?

  • Termites feed on anything that contains cellulose, such as wood, leaf litter, dead grasses, paper, cardboard, carpet, drywall, thin lead sheeting, copper sheeting, plaster, asphalt, flooring, sub-floor, furniture, trim, window frames, etc.

  • They regularly consume about 2-3% of their body weight each day.

  • Termites get the water they need to survive from the wood on which they feed. They also produce water internally during the digestive process.

WHAT IS THE LIFECYCLE OF TERMITES?

  • Drywood termites are social insects that live in colonies in sound, dry wood.

  • Each colony consists of offspring from an original pair (the king and queen).

  • There are three growth stages – eggs, immatures and adults.

  • Initially, the queen lays relatively few eggs. In subsequent years, the young queen matures and will lay more eggs. Eventually, the colony stabilizes when the queen reaches maximum egg production.

  • Depending on the species, queens can lay thousands of eggs per day.

  • The average lifetime of a termite queen is about 15 years.

  • Supplementary/secondary reproductives take the responsibility of laying eggs without swarming when the king and queen die, become infertile, or are removed from the colony

14 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT TERMITES:

  1. Termites lived 130 million years ago, and descended from a cockroach-like ancestor.

  2. The termite king does not die soon after mating and will stay with his queen, fertilizing her eggs as needed, and helping her feed their young predigested food.

  3. In almost all termite species, both the workers and soldiers are blind. Since termite workers and soldiers live their lives in the dark, they have no need to develop functional eyes. Only reproductive termites require eyesight, so they can find mates and new nest sites.

  4. Termites use pheromones to recognize the colony mates, as each colony has its own odor.

  5. Solders and workers bang their heads as an alarm.

  6. Termites transfer food or fluids among members of a community through mouth-to-mouth or anus-to-mouth feeding.

  7. Good hygiene is important to termite survival because it keeps parasites and harmful bacteria under control. So, termites make an effort to stay clean and spend a great deal of time grooming each other.

  8. Termites have been an important part of the earth’s ecological system. They speed up the natural cycle of deterioration by infesting dead and dying trees.

  9. In Singapore, termite queens are considered a delicacy. They are served live, dipped in alcohol, or preserved in rice wine.

  10. Subterranean termites will build freestanding mud tubes in order to get to wood. One documented tube in a home was 12’ long from floor to ceiling.

  11. Termites always have activities which do not cease day or night.

  12. If needed, worker termites will go up to 250 feet from their colony in search for food; equivalent to you walking up to 5 miles for a meal.

  13. Termites cannot digest their own food. Microscopic bacteria and protozoa in their guts do that job for them.

  14. Termites pass more methane gas than humans. Some scientist believe termites contribute more methane (greenhouse gas emission) than all human industries combined (factories, cars, etc.)