Did you know that termites cause more than a billion dollars in damage every year in the U.S. alone?
Or that approximately $2 billion per year is spent in the U.S. to prevent or treat for termites?
Or that, despite the damage and destruction the wreak, termites are actually beneficial in nature, aiding in the decomposition of dead and decaying wood and the return of nutrients to the soil.
Following are more facts about the infamous termite:
- The Formosan termite is considered to be the number-one damage-causing pest in Louisiana.
- When winged, termites are often confused with carpenter ants. As the diagram (above) shows the differentiation between the two.
- Termites live in colonies and build their nests in soil and/or wood. Wood is the main food of all termites, even those that nest primarily in the soil.
- The queen, the breeder of colony, can live up to 18 years.
- A mature colony will have a number of nesting and feeding sites, all connected by tunnels through the wood.
- A single colony can have millions of termites and spread across a half an acre.
- The termites literally eat the wood to build their colonies. Because they eat it from the inside out, you may not even know you have them until there is significant structural damage.
- Termites never sleep - they are always eating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week ...
- Termites shed their wings when they find a place to build their nest.
- There are three types of termite - drywood, dampwood, and subterranean.
- As their name implies, subterranean termites, which include the Formosan variety, infest homes from the ground up, directly into damp or damaged wood, or through mud tubes they build along concrete foundations or through crawlspaces.
- Like carpenter ants, dampwood termites infest wet and damaged wood. But drywood termites will infest and damage sound wood and will also eat wallpaper and plastics.
- Drywood insects will tunnel into sound, undamaged wood, though they do need some moisture to survive.
- Termites swarm in the spring. The "swarmers" emerge from their nest, then land to shed their wings and mate to begin new colonies.
- Swarming termites are a sure sign that there is an infestation nearby.
- Signs of termite presence are:
- mud tubes built by subterranean termites
- flying, swarming termites
- the appearance of rippling or sunken areas behind wallpaper or other wall covering
- the interior of the wood is hollowed out along the grain with dried mud or soil along the tunnels. (If tunnels are smooth, you are more likely to have a carpenter ant infestation.)
- Because of the skill, equipment, and pesticides needed to eliminate termites, control requires professional treatment.
- Mulch around a home can increase the potential of termite infestation, as it provides the insects with a means of connecting with the home and keeps the soils moist and temperate.
For more information, visit:
- Termite Control: Answers for Homeowners
- Termites: How to Reduce Your Home's Risk of Infestation
- Your local university or extension office web site.