What is Termite?
Termites are small white, tan, or black insects that can cause severe destruction to wooden buildings. Over 2,300 species, mostly tropical, have been described by entomologists. The four most important types in the U.S. – in terms of activity and damage – are Subterranean, Dry wood, Damp wood, and Formosan termite. Subterranean and Dry wood are the two types of termites that cause damage to buildings in Southern California.
Drywood termite are the most common in humid and coastal regions because they need to live in very high humidity and extract all the water they need from wood. This type of lives inside wood but never in soil.
Subterranean termite are the most destructive type; they infest wood from underground. They build underground colonies composed of elaborate “mud tunnels” to reach food sources and protect themselves from the air. Their nests can grow quickly and feast on wood 24/7, critically damaging the building structure and sometimes causing total collapse.
termite are social insects that live in highly organized colonies. There are three main types of adult colony members: reproductives, workers, and soldiers. When the colony is several years old and relatively large, it may produce another form of an adult termite called a “swarmer.” Swarmers are the termite’s way of sending new kings and queens to start colonies.
Swarmers are the most visible form of termite. These Swarmers can be confused with ants that also swarm in the Spring.
Signs of Termite
If you see these signs in your house, you may have termites:
Sawdust-like piles near wood surfaces or elongated, pellet-shaped droppings.
Dirt or mud-like tubes or trails on outside walls, wooden beams or in
crawl spaces. The mud tubes are typically about the diameter of a pencil, but sometimes can be thicker.
Darkening or blistering of wooden structural members (like windowsills). Wood in damaged areas is typically thin, may sound hollow, and easily punctured with a knife or screwdriver.
Swarming winged insects inside the structure, especially in the spring or fall. Swarms emerging from trees stumps, woodpiles, and other locations in the yard do not necessarily mean the house is infested. However, if winged termite are seen emerging from the base of a foundation wall or adjoining porches and patios, there’s a good chance the house is also infested.
People often confuse winged termite with ants which may swarm at the same time of year. They have straight antennae, uniform waists and wings of equal size. Ants have elbowed antennae, constricted waists and forewings that are longer than the hind wings.
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