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Are These Termite Species Living With You in Your Home

Each year, termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage in the U.S., which is not typically covered by homeowners insurance. With online engagement across America on the topic of finding termites in the basement or foundation of the home up 28% over the last three years,* the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) is using Termite Awareness Week, as an opportunity to educate homeowners about the threats termites pose.

To an untrained eye, termite damage can easily go unnoticed. Known as ‘silent destroyers’ for their ability to chew through wood undetected, homeowners should have their property professionally inspected for termites once a year to prevent infestations from silently forming and the costly damage that can result.

While there are over 2,000 species of termites, these five species are found throughout the U.S.:

Subterranean termites

The most destructive species in the U.S. and live in colonies of up to two million members underground or in moist, secluded areas aboveground. They feed on wood and can cause extensive damage to buildings or other wooden structures.


A subterranean termite infestation begins when warm temperatures and heavy rainfall trigger an established colony to send out a swarm of winged termites. Swarms consist of winged reproductive males and females. Subterranean termite colonies are usually active for three to five years before winged reproductives appear.


Formosan termites

The Formosan termite is a species of termite that has been transported worldwide from its native range in southern China. They are the most voracious and are difficult to control once they infest a structure due to their aggressive nature.


Formosan termites are a type of subterranean termite that nests within the soil. They invade structures from the soil directly through the wood to ground contact or using mud tubes they construct up from the soil. Formosan termites also can construct a carton which helps retain moisture in the nest.


Dampwood termites

Dampwood termites are much larger than the subterranean termites that are common across the country. Wood that is water-damaged or rests directly on the ground is very likely to attract dampwood termites. The more likely things that dampwood termites are drawn to include stumps, lumber, fallen logs, and tree branches that are left in direct contact with the ground. In addition, dampwood termites may also infest rarely seen areas affected by roof leaks or cracked drain pipes.

Dampwood termites often weaken homes by hollowing out support beams. This can lead to costly repairs, causing a great deal of frustration. The silent and secretive nature of these pests makes dampwood termite activity difficult to recognize until it becomes severe.


Drywood termites

Drywood termite soldiers have large mandibles (mouthparts) with teeth and their pronotum is as wide, or wider, than their head. Also, most drywood termite soldiers and workers are larger than the soldiers and workers in subterranean termite colonies.


Drywood termites can survive without living in soil and do not construct their nests in the ground, but instead construct their nests in the dry, above-ground wood they infest. The pests enter homes through exposed wood or infested items like wooden furniture.


Termites are not DIY pests! If you not getting your house regularly checked, it is an investment that gives you great peace of mind. If you believe you have an infestation, be sure to contact a pest control professional immediately.


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