There are 2,800 termite species in the world. While only 28 species are known to eat infrastructure and buildings, termites are excellent breeders. Their queens live up to 25 years and lay about 30,000 eggs every day.
One mound of termites can house millions of termites at a single time. That's terrifying if you have an infestation on your property, and it means you need to take action quickly.
But what do termites look like, and how can you spot termite damage?
We want to help you prevent termites from invading your New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware or Eastern Shore of Maryland property. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about termites.
What Do Termites Look Like?
While there are many species of termites, there are only three castes which termites belong to within their own species. Each caste varies slightly in size and color.
Worker termites collect food. They're white in color and range in size from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length.
Soldier termites protect the colony. They have white bodies with dark-colored heads. They range in size from 2/3 to 3/4 inches in length.
Reproductive termites procreate to make more termites. They're either light brown or black and range in size from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length.
The King, Queen, and Baby Termites
The king and queen of the colony are black or dark brown. Their size is around 3/8 of an inch long.
What do baby termites look like? Unlike other insects, there's no transitional phase between larvae and becoming an adult termite. Baby termites look exactly like a tiny termite, but they're usually white in color.
Types of Local Mid-Atlantic Termites
Which types of termite species you'll have to contend with depends on where in the U.S. you live.
In New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the two most common types are the eastern subterranean termite and the dark southeastern subterranean termite.
Eastern Subterranean Termites
This species of termite swarms during daylight between the months of March and May. They nest underground and can cause costly damage to your home.
Eastern subterranean termites infest wood that's touching soil or is piled close to the siding. These insects can build mud tubes to access untreated walls, doors or trim to gain further entry into homes.
Dark Southeastern Subterranean Termites
Dark southeastern subterranean termites tend to swarm during the day between the months of March and June. They swarm, burrow, and mate in rotting logs or into the soil.
Signs of an infestation can include wood damage, evidence of swarmers, and the presence of mud tubes.
How Long Do Termites Live For?
Unfortunately for homeowners, termites are great survivors. In fact, in ideal climate conditions, the queen can live for decades.
Worker and soldier termites only live up to one or two years, but colonies can live on for the life of the primary queen and even after she dies.
What Type of Damage Do They Cause?
Termites aren't all bad. They're great for the environment because they break down detritus, which adds nutrients to the soil.
Unfortunately, those same feeding behaviors destroy our homes because they primarily feed on wood. If they eat enough of it, it can cause severe damage to the strength and safety of infrastructures.
Termites Eat More Than Wood
Even if your NJ, PA, MD, or DE home isn't made primarily of wood, you're still at risk of a termite infestation. Termites can work their way through metal siding, plaster, and other building materials. Even bark, gravel, and rubber mulch can attract termites.
What's worse is they can also feed on your ceiling, floors, cabinets, and furniture. An aggressive colony can eat up to one pound of wood a day.
Termites Have Excellent Appetites
How much damage they can do depends on the type and size of the termite, but they can eat up to two to three times their body weight every day. Since subterranean termites thrive where moisture is available, they're also most likely to cause the most damage.
Most of the time, you won't have a clue until the damage is already done.
Where Can I Find Termite Damage On My Property?
It's a smart idea to inspect your property periodically looking for signs of termite infestations. Here are a few signs to look for:
- Hollow wood
- Mud tubes along walls and the foundation
- Maze patterns in floors and walls
- Small holes in drywall
- Earthen packing
Other signs include mounds of droppings near entry points. You might also see piles of shed wings.
What Types of Wood Do Termites Feed On?
Termites cause over $40 billion dollars in structural and crop damage globally each year. In the U.S. termites damage 600,000 homes just by eating.
Termites feed on cellulose, which is an organic compound mostly found in vegetable matter such as dead plants, wood, and trees. However, how much wood a single colony destroys depends on the type of termite, the type and condition of the wood, and the treatment process of the wood.
Some trees contain allelochemicals in their heartwood. These allelochemicals can act as a toxicant and repellent to certain insects, including termites.
How Can I Protect My Home From Termites?
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to prevent termites from taking over your NJ, PA, MD, or DE home. Here are a few methods to consider:
- Seal all cracks in your foundation
- Repair broken roof tiles
- Seal moisture leaks from pipes and air conditioning units
- Remove dead trees and stumps from the yard
- Cover areas where wood and soil come in contact using plastic sheeting
- Store firewood off the ground
To prevent termites from destroying your furniture, do not place any wooden furniture pieces against your walls. It's also advisable to work with a pest control company to ensure your home gets and stays termite-free.
How Often Should I Have My Home Inspected for Termites?
If you spot signs of a termite infestation, contact a pest control company immediately to assess and address the problem.
However, whether you have a problem or not, it's a smart idea to have an exterminator perform an inspection at least once per year.
Contact Us Today to Keep Termites Away
What do termites look like? Trouble. Let's hope you never have to see one in person.