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Subtrranean Termites

 Subterranean termites are the most damaging type of termites for homes and buildings. They build distinctive tunnels, called "mud tubes" or "earth feeder trails," to reach food sources and protect themselves from predators.

 

Termites consistently eat wood around the clock, seven days a week. They accomplish this by employing their saw-like jaws to sever small wood pieces, processing one fragment at a time. These subterranean termites inflict substantial damage to a building's framework over time, and in severest cases, may bring about a complete structural collapse.

 

How quickly do termites eat? The time it takes for termites to cause noticeable damage can vary due to several factors. According to the North Carolina State Extension website, a colony of approximately 60,000 termites could consume a 2x4 piece of wood in approximately 5 months.

 While this may seem like a small amount, it is actually quite insignificant when considered in relation to the amount of wood used to build a house. The problem with termite damage is that it happens gradually over time.

 

 When termites invade your home, they may remain undetected for several years. Fixing the damage brought about by termites can be quite expensive, especially if it compromises your house's structural integrity.

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Subterranean Termites

Recognizing  Subterranean Termites

There are three categories of termites, known as castes, that live underground. There are reproductive termites, worker termites, and soldier termites. Each type of termite has unique physical traits.

 

The reproductive members of a termite colony are composed of the king, queen, and alates. They play a vital role in the colony's expansion. The queen, being the largest termite, and the king, being significantly smaller, are included in this group.

 

Alates, commonly referred to as swarmers, have dark brown to almost black bodies and transparent, slightly milky-winged coverings. Their bodies range from ¼ to ½ inch in length, while their wings exhibit only a few almost imperceptible hairs. A crucial point to remember is that workers and soldiers do not possess wings.

 

Workers are about a quarter of an inch long with cream-colored bodies. They have small jaws that allow them to chew through wood and carry materials.

 

 Soldiers have distinct features. Their jaws are prominent, and their heads are rectangular in shape. Their bodies are flat and broad, often resembling a light cream color similar to workers. However, soldiers' heads are darker, with a more brownish tone.

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Signs of an Infestation

 

Subterranean termites can invade both the interior and exterior of a home. You can identify termite infestations by several clear signs.One indication is the presence of mud tubes, either outside or inside the house. These mud tubes look like long, tunnel-like structures made from mud and wood. Termites create these tubes for protection from predators as they move around, keeping them damp and preventing dehydration.

 

Signs of a subterranean termite infestation include hollow or soft sounding wood, darkened or blistered wooden structures, and uneven or bubbled paint. Sometimes, discarded termite wings near doors or windows suggest that swarmers have invaded your home.

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Preventative Measures

Preventing subterranean termite infestations is the most effective control method. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid collecting water close to your home's foundation. Pests are drawn to moisture.

  • Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.

  •  Proper ventilation is crucial for reducing humidity in crawl spaces.

  • Don't discard wood scraps or unused lumber in the backyard or in crawlspace areas.

  • Additionally, be sure to seal cracks and crevices in the home’s foundation to keep termites out. 

  • Most importantly, eliminate wood contact with the soil, and maintain a one-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building.

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