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TERMITES - General Information

Wood Destroying Organisms
Termite Swarmers aka Alates aka Primary Reproductives

Class: Insecta, Order: Isoptera  Termites are important structural pests due to the fact that they use the wood that we use to build structures and furniture with, as a food source.  In the United States alone, it is estimated that termites are responsible for over 3 billion dollars worth of damage to structures every year.  Termites are grouped into subterranean and non-subterranean termites.  Subterranean termites live in the ground and the others may not.  The non-subterranean groups are divided into drywood and dampwood termites.  These termites are found in areas where there are tropical type climates such as Florida, California and Hawaii as well as along the coast of all the states that border the Gulf of Mexico.  The subtereranean termites are found in most every state except Alaska, with the Southeast US having the heaviest concentration of any other region of the United States.  Controlling termites requires an understanding of termite biology and behavior as well as an understanding of basic contruction techniques.  Professional Pest Management companies are equipped to control termites found in structures with a variety of techniques and equipment.

Subterranean Termites - Family: Reticulitermes, Coptotermes, Rhinotermitidae  As the name implies, these termites are found in the soil, from where they invade any structure not adequately protected from attack.  In the early parts of the year, when the temperature begins to approach 70 degrees or higher and after rain, swarming activity consisting of hundreds or thousands of winged kings and queens may be notice inside structures.  This is usually the first signs of termites being in the structure and possibly causing damage which may be hidden from view inside walls. The damage caused to wooden components is done by the workers of the colony which are white or cream-colored and possess no wings.

Drywood Termites – Family Kalotermitidae  Drywood termites, unlike subterranean moisture compared to subterranean, these termites can be found in the upper portions of homes such as the attics, eaves and soffit areas. Most colonies have only a few hundred or close to a thousand individuals, so the damage they do is not as great as subterranean termites.  However, if they go unnoticed for years, they can do substantial damage in the areas they are infesting.  They produce distinctive fecal pellets which are kicked out of the galleries that they tunnel in the wood.  These pellets are some of the first signs of infestation that are noticed.