Important Questions About Termites

By Russ Frank

Here are some questions that property owners often ask about termites. Do you know the answers to these questions?

Q: How many types of termites are there? A: Over 2600 species have been identified by experts. Of those only 55 live in the U.S. Homeowners only have to worry about 2 types: subterranean termites and drywood termites.

Q: How are subterranean and drywood termites different? A: Termites live in colonies because they are social insects. One difference between subterranean termites and drywood termites is where the colony is located. Subterranean termites need the moisture in the earth to survive, so they live in underground nests. They tunnel to into nearby homes to feed. Drywood termites, however, don't need the moisture in the earth to survive, so they nest inside the structures they're feeding on.

Q: How will I know if my property has termites? And, if so, what kind? A: Subterranean termites may be detected when they swarm, typically in the spring, when some termites leave their nests to start more colonies. Subterranean termites may also be detected when their mud tubes are seen on walls or foundations. Both types of termites may leave weak, broken, or blistered wood. Drywood termites can leave wings or piles of what looks like sawdust on floors and windowsills.

Q: Is my home free of termites when none of these signs are present? A: No, because termites do their damage on the inside of the wood, which makes them very hard to detect.

Q: I see insects with wings running around. Are they termites or ants? A: Until you see them up close, termite swarmers and ant swarmers may look alike. But when you look closely, termites have straight antennae, ant antennae are bent. Ants have a narrow waist and termites have thick waists.

Q: Aren't termites generally found in older buildings? A: The only preference termites have is for wood. They don't care where it is. They've even been found in recently completed new construction. Termites have no preference for older buildings.

Q: Is there anywhere in the U.S. that's free from termites? A: Other than Alaska? No. Subterranean termites are present in all of the lower 48 states plus Hawaii. Drywood termites are limited to most of the coastal regions of the U.S. plus the desert southwest. - 29857

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