For a homeowner, knowing the basics of termite identification can mean the difference between stopping an infestation early or having to make expensive repairs.
So what does a termite look like? Where do they live? How can you tell if you have termites? Here are some quick tips to help identify whether or not you have a termite on your hands.
Termites range in size from one-eighth of an inch to one inch long. They can vary in shades of white, brown and black, depending on their type and age.
Termites are sometimes confused with flying ants because both have wings and antennae.
To differentiate the two, note that termites have two sets of equal-length wings on their bodies, three body segments (which are not as distinct as an ant’s) and straight antennae. Ants have two sets of wings that are different lengths, three distinct body segments and bent antennae.
WHERE DO TERMITES LIVE?
Most common termites in the United States are the native subterranean termites. Other types found in the United States are drywood termites and Formosan termites, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Termites live in colonies, which take time to form and grow, according to the State University Extension.
Termites like moist areas, with high humidity.
Termites eat cellulose, which is found in plants and trees. This is why the structural lumber of your house is the main reason termites enter. They’ll also eat or chew through other building materials in the process of foraging, such as insulation, plastics, fabrics and carpet (not to mention your furniture).
DRYWOOD TERMITES VS. SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES - KNOW YOUR ENEMY
Termites are bad news for your home no matter what type. Learn the differences between the species, and you can do everything in your power to prevent these invaders from taking a bite out of your investment. Here’s a drywood termites vs. subterranean termites checklist to help you identify the enemy:
HOW ARE DRYWOOD VS. SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES’ WINGS DIFFERENT?
Winged termites are called alates. Subterranean alates have one single thick, dark vein that runs parallel to the top of the wing. Drywood termites have a complex system of veins, usually at least three or four in each wing. Most termites shed their wings within minutes of landing. This is often the only evidence they leave behind.
ARE THERE ANY DIFFERENCES IN THEIR NESTING HABITS?
An important difference between the two is that subterranean termites nest in the ground, while drywood termites nest inside the wood they are infesting. This leads to varying points of attack on your property. Subterranean termites make mud tubes to tunnel through the ground and invade your home. These tubes protect them from predators and dehydration. Drywood termites don’t dig mud tubes, needing zero contact with soil. They infest your home by air and require less moisture (which is why they don’t need soil or the mud tubes).
CAN TERMITE EXCREMENT HELP YOU TELL THEM APART?
Excrement is one of the most common secondary signs of any pest infestation. Each species of termite has different eating and traveling habits, which you can detect in the ‟land mines” they leave behind on the battlefield. Subterranean termites leave behind a non-ridged, cardboard-like excrement called a ‟carton,” which is used as lining in mud tubes. Drywood termites create ‟kick-out” holes to push their excrement through the wood. This leads to their distinctive six-sided ‟frass,” which resembles fine grains of sand or salt and pepper gathering in small piles on the floor.
WHAT ABOUT THEIR FEEDING PATTERNS?
Subterranean termites are voracious feeders but they are somewhat picky. They only chew on the softest part of the wood found between the grains. Drywood termites eat across the grains, leaving galleries that don’t follow the grain of the wood. If you have neat, lined patterns of destruction that appears to include mud or dirt, subterranean termites are likely the culprit. Erratic, smooth galleries that contain fecal pellets, are likely the work of an army of drywood termites.
In the end, this conflict won’t really come down to subterranean termites vs. drywood termites. It boils down to termites vs. your home and the relentlessness of your counterattack. Unfortunately, that’s not a battle you’ll ever win on your own. Call Terminix® and make sure your home doesn’t become just another casualty in the war against termites.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON SIGNS OF TERMITES?
Soft or hollow-sounding wood
Mud tubes with white, squishy insects inside them or swarms of flying termites
Don’t struggle with termite identification. Call Terminix® today and schedule a free home inspection. When it comes to your home, you want to be sure.