Subterranean termites are a species of termite that feed on wood and other cellulose products; preferring to invade pieces of wood that have been previously damaged by water. As their name suggests, they nest and travel under the surface of the ground. Termites are responsible for causing over 5 billion dollars’ worth of damages to homes all across the United States each year.
What a termite looks like depends on what caste it belongs to- workers, soldiers or reproductives. Each caste has a unique job that helps the colony to thrive and survive.
Workers – Workers are rarely if ever seen since they are mostly found traveling and nesting underground and creating tunnels and gathering food for the colony on the inside of wood. Worker termites do not have wings, are blind, and have a cream colored soft body. They range in length from ¼ to ½ of an inch.
Soldiers– Soldiers appear very similar to the workers except that they have a brownish colored head and very large mandible that they use to defend their colony with. They are also wingless and blind.
Reproductives– The reproductive members of the colony are the largest in size-growing up to ½ an inch in length. The reproductive are the members of the colony that you are most likely to see; they are dark brown to black in color and have two pairs of wings that are equal in length. In the spring, generally after a rain, they will swarm from their colony in order to find a mate, shed their wings, and start a new colony of their own.
Dangers Associated With Termites
Termites do not bite or sting, but can and will cause significant structural damage to your home or other structures if not addressed and prevented.
Subterranean termites need to be prevented because of the damages they can cause, which can be very dangerous and costly to repair.
As a homeowner there are several things that you can do to help to deter termites from your home and property. Termite prevention tips:
- Reduce excess areas of moisture; make sure that gutters are not clogged and that they are directing water away from your house. Fix leaky pipes or fixtures in and around your house.
- Don’t let organic debris like piles of leaves build up on your property. If trees have fallen, promptly remove them.
- Seal cracks and crevices that have developed in your home’s foundation or exterior walls.
- Remove or replace wood that has been damaged by water.
- Limit soil to wood contact in structures like wooden swing sets, decks, sheds, and the like that are located on your property.