Although nearly 4,000 termite species have been classified, with 400 of these classified as pests, the primary termite species affecting humans are Subterranean and Drywood. The primary difference between the two termite species is that Drywood Species can live with the moisture trapped in wood, while Subterranean termites require added moisture from the soil or from water leaks.
HabitatTermites live in social colonies of several hundred to several million individuals. One or more Queens can lay 2,000 eggs per day, which are tended by workers who forage for and store wood, leaf litter, soil and animal dung. Large-headed soldiers defend the colony from ant attacks by blocking entries and by biting intruders with their jaws.
Winged, reproductive individuals of both sexes, swarm short distances from the nest usually in spring and autumn to mate and establish a new nest in damp soil or timber. Swarming termites can be distinguished from ants by their straight antennae and abdomens paired to equal length wings. Their dustless nests are constructed of chewed wood, saliva, feces and soil.
Signs of InfestationMud-like tunnels indicate that drywood termites have moved from the soil to a wooden structure although cracks in walls, framing or slabs and utility openings are favorite entry points. Watch for heavy swarms in the spring and autumn and waviness in exposed exterior wood.
Sand-like fecal pellets in and around wood are signs of subterranean termite infestation although studies show these droppings may take 2 years to appear.