About of Termites

What are some signs of termites?
Unless there are signs of active termite infestation, you probably won’t detect termites because they forage and hang out hidden from view. The most common way of detecting termites include discarded wings. Not so obvious signs include wood that sounds hollow when tapped, cracked or bubbling paint and termite droppings that look like sawdust (frass).

What do termites feed on?
They feed on cellulose-based material like wood, books, boxes, furniture and drywall coverings. Termites are constantly foraging and have been found over 150 feet from a colony.

Why are termites a threat to my home?
Termite colonies work 24 hours a day, and signs of termite infestations can go undiscovered until serious damage is done. Because homeowners insurance typically does not cover termite damage, termite detection and continued termite treatment are the best ways to help protect your property.

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Termite Identification

differentiate termites from ants

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.

To maintain a moist environment above the ground, workers continually carry moist soil above ground for use in constructing mud tubes. In addition to building tubes, termites leave mud in wood they have excavated.

This mud is so characteristic that termite-damaged wood can be readily identified even if no termites are found with it. Because of moisture needed by termites, houses with water problems near the foundation and overgrown vegetation too close to the house may be more at risk.

The main nutritional ingredient in the food termites eat is cellulose, the hard structural component of wood and other plant tissues. Termites will feed on nearly any source of cellulose, including wood, roots, twigs, mulch, paper, cardboard and fabrics made of cotton and other plant-based materials. Subterranean termites have been found infesting living trees, but it is unclear whether they destroy living tissues or are feeding only on dead areas. Even though termites feed on cellulose, they can penetrate and damage non-cellulose materials, including plaster and drywall, stucco, plastics, neoprene and rubber. Termites will damage vinyl swimming pool liners, pool filters and heater lines. Softer metals, such as lead, copper and aluminum, have been damaged as well as linoleum, asphalt, PVC pipes and rigid board insulation constructed of polystyrene.

by University of Nebraska, Department of Entomology

Termites versus Ants

People sometimes confuse ants with termites because both live in the soil and their winged forms are similar in appearance. Termites and ants can also swarm at the same time of year, which adds to the confusion. Upon closer examination, there are several key differences in the appearance of these two distinctly different types of insects.

1. Termite workers are white to greyish, whereas ants are darker in color. Swarming termites are dark, often black in color. These are the termites often confused with ants.

2. Termites have straight bead-like antenna; ants have “elbowed” antennae.

3. Ants have a constricted “waist” where the thorax and the abdomen are connected; termites have an abdomen that is broadly joined at the thorax.

4. Finally, winged ants have forewings (the first pair) larger than the hindwings. Winged termites have two pairs of wings equal in size and appearance.

Even though they are similar in appearance and live in the soil, ants and termites are enemies because many ant species are predators of termites.

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