LEARN ABOUT TERMITE INFESTATIONS AND DAMAGE
What is a termite infestation?
Termites are social insects, meaning that they live in colonies. When termites from a colony settle into your home, the structure becomes infested. There are several different types of
termites and they all need different things.
Subterranean termites need a moisture source to survive. To get this, they will either go into the ground and bring the moisture back with them, or they will use moisture they find from
sources like leaks or condensation. Formosan termites, also part of the subterranean group of termites, are very aggressive, and can build nests above ground. Subterranean termites are
found in virtually all of the United States, except Alaska.
Drywood termites do not need any additional moisture and will attack sound wood. They can create colonies with little or no connection to the ground. Drywood termites are found mostly in southern Florida, the southern portions of Gulf Coast states, Arizona, southern California, and Hawaii.
How does an infestation occur?
Termites, as with all living creatures, need food. Most termites found in North America feed on cellulose-based material like wood, books, boxes, furniture, and drywall coverings. Termites are constantly foraging and have been found more than 150 feet from their colony.
Infestations can occur two ways. First, healthy colonies send out winged reproductives to start new colonies. When the termites find a suitable area, they will start a new colony. The second
way infestations occur is when subterranean termites forage for food and find their way into a structure. Subterranean termites do this in a number of ways. One of the more common ways is by building mud tunnels over foundation walls to provide themselves access to the structure’s wood.
What are the telltale signs of infestation?
Telltale signs of infestation will vary by type of termite.
- For drywood termites, found generally in subtropical areas, you might notice pellets or termite droppings. These are small, ridged, wood-colored pellets. They might fall from the ceiling or from the furniture.
- For subterranean termites, if you notice a swarm of winged termites emerging from a structure, it is a sign that an infestation is nearby. As subterranean termites build mud tubes to enter a building, these straw-like tubes from the structure to the ground indicate an infestation, past or present.
- For the Formosan termite, “carton” or mud structures within a wall indicate an infestation.
It is best to have a professional pest control inspector look at a potential infestation to
determine if it is a termite issue and whether it is active.
Why are termites a threat to my home?
Most people list their homes as their single largest investment, and termite infestation and damage can be devastating. This is also true for a termite infestation in a commercial building.
According to the National Pest Management Association, termites cause more than $5 billion in documented damage each year. It is likely that number is higher. However, homeowners insurance routinely excludes termite damage because insurance will not pay for treatment or repairs. Therefore, some infestations may go unreported.
Termite colonies work 24 hours a day. Sometimes, termite infestations go undiscovered until serious damage is already done to a structure. Therefore, termite detection and continued termite treatment are the best ways to help protect your property and prevent or reduce the likelihood of expensive repairs.