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What Types Of Termites Are There?

March 6, 2023 - Termites

Author - Tom Miche

what types of termites are there

Termites are social insects that feed on wood and other materials containing cellulose. They live in large colonies and are known for causing extensive damage to homes and other wooden structures. Termites play an important ecological role by breaking down dead wood and returning nutrients to the soil. However, they can be a serious pest for homeowners and require proper management to prevent damage to structures.

Learn more: What are termites?

Termites With Wings

Termites with wings are often referred to as "swarmers" or "alates". These are reproductive termites that have developed wings in order to fly away from their original colony and start a new one. These termites are usually dark brown or black in color and have two pairs of wings that are equal in length.

Swarmers are typically seen in the springtime when the weather is warm and humid. They will emerge from their nest and take flight in large groups in search of a suitable location to establish a new colony. This is known as a termite swarm.

Once they have found a suitable location, the swarmers will shed their wings and mate, with the female becoming the new queen of the colony. The new queen will then start to lay eggs and the colony will begin to grow.

Learn more: Do termites have wings?

While swarmers may indicate the presence of a nearby termite colony, they do not themselves cause damage to structures. It is the worker termites that are responsible for feeding on wood and other cellulose materials and causing structural damage.

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites are a type of termite that live in the soil and feed on wood. They are major pests in the United States and can cause significant damage to homes and other structures.

Subterranean termites require moisture to survive, which is why they are found primarily in areas with high humidity levels or near water sources. They build mud tubes to travel from their nests in the soil to their food sources, which can include wood in structures or other cellulose materials.

Prevention and control of subterranean termites typically involves treating the soil around the structure with termiticides and removing any sources of moisture that may attract them. Regular termite inspections by a pest control professional can also help to detect and prevent infestations.

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites are a type of termite that infests dry and untreated wood. They are typically found in warmer, drier climates and can cause significant damage to homes and other structures.

Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites do not require contact with soil to survive. They can infest wood directly and do not need moisture to thrive. This means they can be found in furniture, walls, and other parts of the home that are not in contact with the ground.

Drywood termites are typically smaller than subterranean termites and have a creamy white or light brown color. They also have wings and can fly, making it easier for them to travel and infest new areas.

Signs of a drywood termite infestation include piles of tiny fecal pellets that look like sawdust, discarded wings near windows or light sources, and hollow or damaged wood.

Treatment for drywood termites often involves fumigation, where the home is tented and a gas is used to kill the termites. Other options include localized treatments such as spot treatments or heat treatments. Prevention includes regular inspections and treatment of any infestations as soon as they are discovered, as well as keeping firewood and other wood debris away from the home.

Formosan Termites

Formosan termites are a type of subterranean termite that is known for its destructive capabilities. They are native to China but have been introduced to many parts of the world, including the United States. Formosan termites are larger than other subterranean termites, and they have a yellow-brown color. They are also able to form large colonies, with up to 10 million individual termites in a single colony.

Formosan termites are particularly destructive because they can consume wood at a much faster rate than other termites. They are also able to travel further to find food sources, which means they can cause damage to structures that are not in direct contact with the ground. In addition to wood, Formosan termites can also consume paper, cloth, and other materials made from cellulose.

To control Formosan termites, it is important to detect them early and implement effective termite control measures. This may include the use of baits, liquid termite treatments, and physical barriers to prevent termites from accessing a structure. It is also important to maintain proper moisture levels in and around a building, as Formosan termites are attracted to areas with high moisture content. Regular termite inspections by a pest control professional can help to identify and prevent infestations of Formosan termites.

Dampwood Termites

Dampwood termites are a type of termite that infests wet or damp wood, such as decaying logs or trees, fence posts, and even houses with moisture problems. They are less common than subterranean and drywood termites but can still cause significant damage to structures.

Dampwood termites are larger than subterranean and drywood termites, with workers measuring up to 1 inch long. They have a light to dark brown color and long, narrow bodies. Unlike other termites, they do not build mud tubes or nests but instead live directly in the wood they infest.

Dampwood termites are attracted to moisture and are typically found in areas with high humidity, such as coastal regions or areas with significant rainfall. They are known for infesting logs and other wood that has been in contact with the ground, as well as areas with water damage, leaky pipes, or plumbing problems.

Controlling dampwood termites involves eliminating sources of moisture and repairing any water damage. Infested wood should be removed and replaced, and the area should be treated with a borate-based product to prevent future infestations. It is important to address moisture problems promptly to prevent dampwood termites from causing significant damage to structures.

Eastern Subterranean Termites

Eastern subterranean termites (Reticulitermes flavipes) are a species of subterranean termites found in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as the rest of the eastern United States, from Maine to Florida, and as far west as Texas. They are the most common and destructive termite species in the country, causing significant damage to wooden structures.

Eastern subterranean termites live in colonies in the soil and forage for food, which consists of cellulose material like wood, paper, and fabric. They have a caste system, with workers, soldiers, and reproductives (also known as alates or swarmers). The workers are responsible for foraging and feeding the colony, while soldiers protect it from predators.

Eastern subterranean termites create mud tubes to travel through soil and avoid exposure to the air. These tubes are a common sign of an infestation, as they provide a pathway for the termites to access wooden structures. Other signs of an infestation include blistered or distorted wood surfaces, piles of termite feces (frass), and discarded wings from swarmers.

Termite treatment options that will be effective for Eastern subterranean termites include soil treatments with liquid termiticides or baits, as well as wood treatments with borate products. Professional termite inspections can help detect and prevent infestations, as well as provide guidance on treatment options.

Queen Termites

Queen termites are the primary reproductive females in termite colonies. They are much larger than other termites in the colony and can lay thousands of eggs each day. Queen termites are responsible for ensuring the survival and growth of the colony by producing new generations of termites. In some species, the queen termite can live for more than 20 years, continuously laying eggs throughout her lifespan. Queen termites are tended to by worker termites, who provide them with food and attend to their needs. Without a queen, a termite colony cannot survive, as there would be no new generations of termites to replace those that die off.

Worker Termites

Worker termites are the most numerous and important members of the termite colony. They are responsible for many essential tasks, including caring for the young, foraging for food, and maintaining the nest. These termites have soft, pale bodies that are only about 1/4 to 3/8 inches long. They lack wings and are blind, as they do not have functional eyes. Workers have strong jaws that allow them to chew through wood, soil, and other materials. They are also responsible for the production of the enzymes and protozoa necessary to digest cellulose. Worker termites must remain in constant contact with the colony, and they construct tunnels and galleries that allow them to move between food sources and the nest.

Soldier Termites

Soldier termites are a type of termite that plays an essential role in defending the colony. They have strong mandibles used to fight off predators and defend the colony's nest. Soldier termites also have a unique head and body shape, often with enlarged heads and dark, hardened bodies. They are usually blind and rely on their sense of touch and smell to detect and attack intruders. Soldier termites are typically larger than worker termites but smaller than reproductive termites. They are produced from special cells in the colony and are fed by the workers.

Reproductive Termites

Reproductive termites, also known as alates or swarmers, are a type of termite that play a crucial role in the colony's life cycle. They are the only termites that can reproduce and establish new colonies. Reproductive termites have two pairs of wings of equal size, unlike worker and soldier termites, which have two pairs of wings but the front pair is longer than the back pair.

Reproductive termites develop from nymphs and are usually larger in size than worker and soldier termites. When conditions are favorable, such as during the spring or summer, reproductive termites will swarm from their colony in a mating flight. The male and female alates will mate in mid-air, and then the female will shed her wings and begin looking for a suitable location to start a new colony. Once a location has been chosen, the female will lay eggs and care for them until they hatch into worker termites.

Reproductive termites are essential to the survival of the colony, as they ensure the continuation of the termite population by establishing new colonies. Their swarming behavior is often an indication of a mature and healthy termite colony nearby. Homeowners should be aware of termite swarms and seek professional termite inspection and treatment if necessary to protect their property from termite damage.

Black Termites

There are several species of termites that may appear black, but one of the most common is the Eastern subterranean termite. These termites are dark brown to black in color and are usually around 1/8 inch long. They have straight antennae and a broad waist, and they are often found in soil or in wood that is in contact with soil. Black termites may also refer to drywood termites, which have dark brown to black bodies and are around 1/2 inch long. These termites infest dry wood and do not require contact with soil. It is important to properly identify the species of termite in order to determine the most effective treatment method.

Red Termites

Eastern subterranean termite soldiers are red because of their distinctive mandibles, which are a reddish-brown color. The soldiers are about ? inch long and have elongated, rectangular-shaped heads with large mandibles that are used to defend the colony against predators. The mandibles of eastern subterranean termite soldiers are also used to block off tunnels and seal breaches in the colony's tunnels and chambers. While the soldiers' bodies are typically a pale color, their mandibles are a reddish-brown that gives them their distinct appearance.

White Termites

Termites are white or light-colored due to their soft body composition and the presence of a symbiotic relationship with microorganisms. The microorganisms live in the gut of the termite and help break down cellulose, which is a tough, fibrous material found in wood and plant matter. As a result, termites do not need to be heavily armored or colored for protection since they are not typically exposed to predators. Instead, their soft, light-colored bodies allow them to efficiently navigate through the intricate wood tunnels they construct. Additionally, some termite species have evolved to be white in order to better blend in with their environment, as they primarily inhabit wood that has already been broken down by fungi or bacteria, which tends to be a lighter color. Learn more: What do termites look like?

Ground Termites

Ground termites, also known as subterranean termites, are a type of termite that lives in soil and constructs mud tubes to move above ground. They are considered the most destructive type of termite and can cause extensive damage to wooden structures, including homes and buildings. Ground termites feed on cellulose material, such as wood, paper, and cardboard, and can infest a structure for years without being noticed. They live in large colonies with a complex social structure, including workers, soldiers, and reproductive termites. The most common treatments for ground termites include liquid termiticides and termite baiting systems. Preventative measures, such as removing moisture sources and sealing cracks and crevices, can also help prevent infestations.

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