Termites have an incredibly long history. They have lived on Earth for more than 250 million years. While termites can be helpful in breaking down rotting wood in the environment, these wood-destroying insects also can cause extensive damage to our modern day structures. Occasionally, referred to as “silent destroyers,” termites may leave few readily observable signs of activity as they consume wood, drywall, sheetrock and various other forms of building materials used in construction of walls, ceilings and floors. Experts estimate that termites damage more than 600,000 homes in the United States annually. In fact, termites cause more damage to U.S. homes (annually) than tornadoes, hurricanes, wind, and hail-storms combined. Each year, U.S. residents spend an estimated $5 billion to control termites and repair termite damage. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), control methods and repairs for damage caused by Formosan termites – the most destructive species of subterranean termite – account for more than $1 billion of this total.
Native Eastern Subterranean Termites
These termites are the most common in North America. They are 10 millimeters in length, with dark brownish-black bodies. Colonies are most often located in the ground. They can eat up to five grams of spring wood per day. Chemical treatments and baiting systems work best to eliminate termites.
Southeastern Dry wood Termites
As the name implies, these termites are prevalent in the Southeastern region of the United States. They are 11 to 12 millimeters long, with pale yellowish brown to pale reddish brown bodies. Southeastern dry wood termites fly to structures and infest exposed wood, such as door frames and siding, later infesting attics. Fumigation and direct wood treatment are the most effective methods of control.
This termite, originating in China, is best known for its large size, colony and ability to consume large amounts of wood. Formosan termites are 14 to 15 millimeters long and are pale to brownish yellow. Damage to wood is done in layers and soil is present. They often nest above ground as well as infesting homes, trees and landscape timbers. Chemical treatments and in-ground baiting systems, as well as direct wood treatments are typical control methods.