Termites are undeniably invasive and destructive pests. These insects can cause extensive damage, especially because they mostly go unnoticed.
Learning about termite behaviors, feeding, and key signs can help prevent termite infestations and reduce the chances of damage to your home.
Termite Life Cycle
The easiest way to spot termites is to look for winged reproductive male and female termites swarming around each other. Once they find a spot to colonize, they mate and shed their wings. These termites become king and queen termites.
This process creates infestations that happen in and around homes. Under optimal conditions, the king and queen can live for up to 50 years. Termite queens can lay several eggs within days of mating. At first, queens lay 100 eggs annually, but as they mature, they can lay thousands of eggs daily which will have your property completely infested with baby termites very quickly.
The life cycle in the colony includes the egg, nymph, and adult. Most termites become workers, but some become soldiers, workers, or the swarmer termites mentioned above.
Soldier termites play a defensive role for the nest and may create mud tubes that lead to food sources. They use their larger heads to combat other insect species that threaten the nest.
Worker termites don’t do any fighting; their job is to gather food and help build the physical nest. They make up the majority of the colony.
Common Termite Species
Around North America, four common termite species infest homes. Some species are more destructive than others.
Dampwood termites prefer wood with high moisture content. These are easy to identify because they are a large species. Since they like damp wood, they generally avoid homes where the wood is dry.
Drywood termites prefer wood without any moisture, so they will move into homes, especially those with wood structures, floors, and furniture. They can establish several colonies in one home, making them incredibly destructive.
Formosan termites are aggressive termites that prefer dry wood where they can build tunnels in the structures. A colony can have over ten million termites. This species lives in the soil around buildings, then enters homes to eat. Formosan termites have a dark, yellowish-brown color.
Subterranean termites build their colonies in the soil, then move into wooden structures. Most subterranean soldier termites have oval-shaped heads.
What Do Termites Need to Survive?
Termites need food and moisture. They eat and digest the cellulose in wood structures. They get water from puddles in or near homes. Termites also seek warmth, which they get from living inside homes or in the soil near them.
Termites most often swarm in warm climates, so you’re more likely to spot them in the Spring or Summer.
What Attracts Termites to Your Home?
Termites build their colonies near food sources. They may nest in homes with structural problems in the basement and roof, as they give easy access to warmth and food.
They also build colonies near outdoor woodpiles, tree stumps, and mulch. If any of these are near your home, termites may easily make their way inside, especially when the temperatures drop.
Signs of a Termite Infestation
Unless termites are swarming, you may not actually see termites. Instead, you may notice a few common signs of a termite infestation. Some people with termite infestations notice damage to wooden structures near their gardens. They may also see damage to shingles, foundations, window frames, and exterior doors.
Termites also eat paper and cardboard, so you might notice damage to boxes, newspapers, documents, and food packaging. Some homeowners also spot termite wings and droppings, especially near entrances and in windows.
You may notice your doors become difficult to open and close. Damaged doors and other wooden structures can have a hollow wood sound due to termites eating the wood. You might also notice mud tubes and tunnels around the perimeter of your home.
Another common sign of a termite infestation is noise. They make a clicking sound when they chew and may bang their heads against the wood in your home.
Where Do Termites Hide?
Termites hide in cardboard boxes, especially when they are near moisture or food. They may hide in garages, storage areas, living rooms, and kitchen areas. Termites have also been known to hide in roofs and attics.
Common Termite Entry Points
It is important to know common termite entry points to protect your home from an infestation. Termites need a sliver of an opening to gain access to homes. They can find entry points in foundations, roofs, and joints where wood meets concrete.
Entry Points for Drywood Termites
Drywood termites find open areas like crevices and cracks in wooden structures. This species will dig into the wood to build a nest. They can build nests on any floor in a home, not just near the foundation or soil of your home.
Entry Points for Formosan Termites
Formosan termites live in the soil. They enter homes by building mud tubes from the soil to wood that touches the soil or sits atop the foundation. The most common entry points for these termites include unsealed cracks and joints. They can also enter through roofs, as Formosan termites can have aerial colonies.
Entry Points for Subterranean Termites
Subterranean Termites build their colonies under the soil or at ground level. These pests enter homes through mud tubes which help them tunnel through door frames, porches, steps, and deck posts.
They can also enter through cracks in the brick mortar or concrete foundations. Subterranean termites will find holes in concrete blocks as entry points to wooden structures.
If you live in the Dallas, Austin, or Houston areas, then reach out to Stampede Pest Control for help with any termite issue you have. Our termite control technicians perform thorough inspections, leaving no stone unturned. If termites are discovered, we have several termite treatment options and even ongoing termite monitoring to ensure that your home never has termites again.