Termites

Termites may be little, but they can cause huge problems. At only ¼” to ½” long, these highly social insects can form extensive colonies capable of causing large-scale damage over extended periods of time. As part of our Sunday Integrated Pest Management approach to pest control, we can only offer prevention and scouting practices for termites. Our products do not treat termites, and we do not recommend any DIY termite removal solutions. If you have a termite problem or suspect that you do, please contact a local, licensed professional from the National Pest Management Association

Get To Know Termites

The most common types of termites are subterranean, dampwood and drywood. While termites in general are more common in the southern United States, only subterranean termites are problematic in the North. Termites are also abundant in the tropics and several tropical species are becoming more prevalent in the United States. Termite colonies are made up of three different types of members: workers, soldiers and queens/kings. Swarmers are reproductive termites that leave the nest in large numbers in the spring, then become queens and kings after they mate and form new colonies. It can take 4-10 years for colonies to grow big enough to create swarmers.

How To ID Termites

  • Workers are pale, with creamy-colored bodies
  • Soldiers are darker with large heads and jaws
  • Reproductive swarmers are dark-bodied and have four equal-sized, cloudy wings
  • No defined waist, plump bodies
  • Antennae look like a string of beads

 

Spot a Lookalike: Swarming Winged Ants

  •  2 pairs of unequal wings that are shorter than the body
  • Narrow waist, like a wasp
  • Elbowed antennae

Where To Find Termites

Did you know that termites are closely related to cockroaches? But unlike cockroaches, termites feed on wood and paper, and they can nest underground, in dead trees or stumps, in treetops, and in wooden structures (depending on the species). They prefer warm and moist habitats. Subterranean termites live in wood, near or on soil, or even underground, making ground floors with moisture issues the most susceptible to this species. Dampwood termites prefer wooden studs, door and window frames, fences, floorboards, decks, sheds, porches and stairs, and wood near chimneys or hot water pipes. Drywood termites can infest all the same areas but they don’t have the same water requirements as dampwood termites, so they can also live in random items like furniture.

The Problems Termites Cause

Termites cause prolonged damage to all kinds of wooden structures, with the worst damage coming from the workers. The white, soft-bodied pests consume cellulose from wood and paper, causing serious structural damage. Feeding can take place inside walls, crawlspaces and other out-of-sight areas. They eat through the softest layers of wood, leaving behind hollow tunnels lined with pellets of frass (poop).

 

      Termite Damage by Species

  • Subterranean termite colonies can be extensive and cover large areas. However, they are only a pest when workers infest structural wood. These termites are most common in basements, foundations and other structural wood. 
  • Dampwood termites are found in areas of high moisture, often in moist crawl spaces.
  • Drywood termites can infest items with low moisture, making them the most adaptable to different environments, though they are only found in warmer climates.

How To Spot Termite Damage

There are several clear signs of termites. If you spot one of these signs, seek professional help to evaluate the extent of your infestation.

  • Mud Shelter Tubes: Thin, less than ¼” in diameter, like streams of mud running up and down foundations, walls or wood structures.
  • Pellets, Frass or Feces: Piles of sand-like droppings.
  • Termite Wings: Piles of discarded wings near windows or in window sills.  
  • Uneven or bubbled wallpaper, which can indicate that termites are feeding on the paper layer of the wallboard.
  • Wood debris near the foundation or soil, first floor-level plates, header joists, ends of floor joists, and any hardwood flooring. Probe suspected areas with a screwdriver looking for rot or soft spots.

 

If you live in a potential termite area, we recommend getting a professional inspection every 3-5 years regardless of termite evidence. If you do see signs of infestation, call a local professional to avoid major and costly damage.

Termite Treatment the Sunday Way

We currently don’t offer termite control products, because in our experience DIY termite treatments are generally not effective, or a good idea. As part of a full IPM system, we recommend seeking professional assistance as soon as possible if you suspect termite issues.

 

Cited Sources

New York State Integrated Pest Management. Termites. Cornell University

NWF Educational Resources. Termites. National Wildlife Federation.

UC IPM. Termites. UCANR.  

Bennett, G.W. Termite Control. Purdue University Extension.

  1. M. Oi, et al. Termite Prevention and Control. IFAS Extension. 

W.H. Chan, et al. Subterranean Termites. IFAS Extension.

W.H. Chan et al. Drywood and Dampwood Termites. IFAS Extension.