Eastern Subterranean Termites
Nests in the soil and feeds on wood buried in or near soil. This termite species prefer moist wood and is the common termite in the US . Worker termites are small white insects that avoid light and build mud tubes to reach wood above the ground. Large termite swarms occur in the spring, male and female reproductive leave the nest to mate and start a new colony. An underground colony can have millions of workers and several buildings cann be attacked a s single large colony.
Workers are are pale white, small , soft bodied insects less than ¼ inch long. The soldier termites are white with a dark yellow head. Their mandibles and head are larger than worker termites. The female and male reproductive (swarms) are black with two equal sized wings. After mating, their wings immediately are shedded and usually be found lying on the ground or near sources of light. Termite damage to wood can be recognized because of their small fecal pellets of digested wood along with soil particles within the galleries. Termite galleries are usually found in wood close to to or touching the ground or wet wood with excessive moisture from a leak or other water source.
The Esatern subterranean termite is the most common and widely distributed termite in North America. Termite remain inconspicuous most of the year, attacking and feeding on wood, but each spring lrage numbers may be seen warming on sides of houses or in basements or even on carpeting. Often s pile of wings or swarms are the first hint of a termite infestation. Termites infest more than 600,000 homes each year and every year, causing more damage than fires, storms or earthquakes- an estimated $2 billion in the US alone.
Eastern subterranean termites build their nests underground, usually below the frost line, but above the water table and rock formations. Termites need a reliable source of food and moisture. Termites have the ability to move their colony up and down the soil to find the optimal temperature and moisture conditions. When termites feed on wood which is separated from the nest by an exposed surface, workers buid mud-covered shelter tubes or tunnels. Workers need a high humidty to survive and will carry mud up into the wood where feeding to maintain a 97 percent relative humidity. The tunnels function to preserve moisture levels and to protect them from predators. They feed exclusively on the wood and wood products containing cellulose. (description of protozoa within digestive tract). Termites often infest buildings and damage lumber, wood panels, flooring, wallpaper, paper products and fabric made of plant fibers. The most serious damage is the loss of structural strength. Subterranran termites do not attack live trees ( Formosan termite is an exception)
Termites are very mobile and can gain access to wood in virtually any part of a building. However, most colonies initially build their nests underground , so original infestations are usually found around the foundation and lower floors closest to the ground. Termites can slip through tiny cracks in cement foundations. Any type of foundation or construction is susceptible to an attack. Buildings with wood in direct or close contact along the ground are more apt to be attacked. 60,000 workers can eat 1/5 ounce or 5 grams of wood each day. To put it in perspective, a colony can completely consume 2 and 1/3 linear feet of a 2x4 pine board in one year. It is possible foe several colonies to infest a single building.