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Important Termite Facts


by Russ Frank

Here are some questions that property owners often ask about termites. Here is your chance to become more informed about these wood chewing insects!

Q: How many types of termites are there?

A: There are over 2600 species of termite that have been identified by entomologists. Of the fifty-five species that live in the United States, homeowners only have to worry about 2 types:   Subterranean termites and drywood termites.

Q: What is the difference between subteranean and drywood termites?

A: Termites, like ants, are social insects, and like ants, they live in colonies. Different types of termites build their nests/colonies in different locations. Subterranean termites depend on moisture in the earth to survive, so they build underground nests and tunnel through the earth feed on homes nearby. Drywood termites, get their moisture from sources in and around the property they're feeding on, so they nest inside the structures themselves!

 
Q: How can I determine whether my home has termites? And what type?

A: Subterranean termites typically swarm in the spring, when the colony divides in order to start more colonies. Subterranean termites often leave mud tubes on the outside walls of homes. Both subterranean and drywood termites damage wood and leave it blistered, weak or broken. Drywood termites can also be detected when they leave wings or "sawdust" on floors and windowsills.

Q: None of these signs are present. Does that mean my home free of termites?

A: No, not necessarily. Termites are very hard to detect. You may not see the termites because they have burrowed into the wood of your house or building from a spot that you may not notice. Eating away, they do their damage on the inside of the wood.

Q: How do I know they're termites and not ants?

A: These two insects, ants and termites, do look very much alike, at a distance. But on closer inspection you will find that ants have bent antennae and the termite's antennae are straight. Additionally, termites have a thick waist, whereas the waist of ants is narrow.

Q: I've heard that termites usually infest older buildings. Is that true?

A: Termites have no particular preference for older buildings. They will eat where it is convenient. They have been found in new buildings, four days after construction. Any structure that contains wood is a potential buffet for termites.

Q: How widespread are termites in the U.S.?

A: Subterranean termites are most common in the southern two-thirds of the United States, but inhabit the lower 48 states plus Hawaii. Drywood termites are limited to the California coast, the Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and the desert southwest. There are more termites in Florida, than in most other states.

About the Author:  Termite prevention is, by far, less expensive than repairing termite damage. Florida Bug Inspectors, a top Tampa termite control company, provides professional termite inspections as well as an effective termite prevention plan.


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