Termite Identification

Termites are insects. There are over 45 different species of termites found in the United States.

Like other insects, termites are “cold-blooded,” meaning termites live and forage in the soil at a temperature comfortable for them and will not be found where the temperatures are too cold or too hot. During the winter, in northern areas of the U.S., termites cannot cross a frost barrier to forage at the soil surface but may be active deeper in the soil. When temperatures warm in the spring and summer, termites will be found near the soil surface.

by University of Nebraska, Department of Entomology


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Termite Swarming

A swarm is an indicator that a termite colony is present and a termite inspection should be scheduled.

Every year between January and July, termites swarm different areas of the country. They start in Florida and work there way up. During these first few months termites are active. But between the months of March to mid June these insects come out in severe swarms. All states are affected to an extent but the farthest northern states like north and South Dakota and Wisconsin do not have any severe swarming. These swarms can be determined by hot weather and rainfall in each individual area.


Beating Insects to the Punch


A MOSQUITO in the bedroom is usually just a nuisance, but other insects can cause serious damage to the house itself. “Termites are the first thing that comes to mind when you think of wood-destroying bugs,” said Michael F. Potter, a professor of urban entomology at the University of Kentucky.

They also cause the most damage. “They like to eat wood,” Dr. Potter said, “and they don’t differentiate between the wood outside and the wood in your house.”


Fending Off Termites, a Springtime Scourge


OVER the next few weeks, homeowners may find thousands of half-inch-long semi-transparent wings littering the floor, basement or patio. The wings are a remnant of the annual mating frenzy engaged in by termites, one of the planet's most resilient pests.

"Termites are swarming big time this year," said Michael F. Potter, a professor of urban entomology at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington. "Swarming is the way new termite colonies are formed. Thousands of winged insects are vented from an existing colony, they land, their wings fall off, they pair up, excavate a cell in the ground and start making a new colony."


The House Calls


ON a Sunday morning earlier this month, Dave Zappulla was inspecting the 1920's Craftsman colonial home of Ginny and Jim Stewart in Manasquan, N.J. "This house once had extensive termite damage," said Mr. Zappulla, who owns Zappulla Property Inspections, also in Manasquan, which covers Ocean, Monmouth, Middlesex and Union Counties.

"The plumbing and the electrical systems were also outdated," he said.

Five years ago, Mr. Zappulla turned those findings over to the Stewarts, who got the seller to make the needed repairs — which cost nearly $30,000 — before they bought the house for the list price of $305,000.


Your Home; Ending Invasions Of Termites


ACCORDING to some estimates, termites have been nibbling away at wood on the earth for at least 100 million years. For most of that time, of course, few complaints were registered.

As soon as people came along and started building homes out of wood, though, the relationship between humans and termites became decidedly antagonistic. The bugs would do everything they could to get inside people's houses and eat them, while the people would do everything they could do keep them out. In fact, pest control experts say, until relatively recently the primary strategy for dealing with termites was to create a chemical barrier around the house to act as a moat of sorts to keep termites at a respectable distance.


Patents; Tracking termites by monitoring their digestive problems and using hot chili peppers to kill them

By Teresa Riordan

TERRY CLARK, whose family runs a pest-control empire in Lodi, Calif., believes he has a better way to find termites: monitoring the methane they expel.

''Termites eat a lot of roughage, so they have a huge gas problem,'' Mr. Clark said.

Many different technologies -- from sonar to X-rays -- have been deployed to detect termites, with varying success. What makes termites so insidious is that they can munch their way through the innards of a house undetected.


How Termites Live on a Diet of Wood


If only wood could be converted to biofuels, there would be no need to wait a million years for the trees to be buried and become oil. Wood is indeed convertible to useful chemicals, because termites do it every day, causing $1 billion of damage every year in the United States. But to live on a diet of wood is challenging, not least because wood contains so little nitrogen. So how do termites do it?

The trick lies in a cunning triple symbiosis, a team of Japanese scientists report in Friday’s issue of Science. In the termites’ gut lives an amoeba-like microbe called a protist, and inside each protist live some 10,000 members of an obscure bacterium.

The microbes in the termites’ gut are very hard to cultivate outside their termite host and so cannot be studied in the lab. The Japanese scientists, led by Yuichi Hongoh and Moriya Ohkuma at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Saitama, have cut through this problem. They extracted the protist’s bacteria directly from a termite’s gut, collected enough to analyze their DNA, and then decoded the 1,114,206 units of DNA in the bacterium’s genome.


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