What are subterranean termites?
Subterranean termites are responsible for about 95 percent of termite damage to US homes and businesses. They cause over $2 billion in damage every year, which is more than windstorms and fires combined. The most obvious sign of a subterranean termite infestation is wood that sounds hollow when tapped with the handle of a screwdriver. If you remove the surface of the wood in the hollow-sounding area, you will see the empty chambers that the termites have chewed in the wood. Because subterranean termites actually live in colonies in the soil and require moisture to survive, this type of termite infestation can be prevented by keeping wood as dry as possible.
What are dry wood termites?
Dry wood termites are not as common as subterranean termites in the US, but the fact that they live in dry wood, not the ground, and require no outside moisture makes them a bit more troublesome. Signs of a dry termite infestation include smooth tunnels in wood, along with a scattering of hard fecal pellets that look like ground pepper. Dry termites often migrate from dry untreated lumber or tree limbs into your property. While dry termites don’t chew through wood as quickly as subterranean termites, over time they can completely destroy a building’s timbers.
Do I have termites or ants?
If you find little winged insects in your home or business, it could be a termite or an ant during their swarming reproductive stage. Here’s how to tell if the insect is a termite:
- Termites have paddle-shaped wings that are twice the length of their body
- Termites have straight, fairly short antennae
- Termites’ bodies have only two segments: a head and a ribbed abdomen
Can termite infestations be prevented?
You can help prevent termite infestations by making your property less attractive to them. For example, you should definitely do everything in your power to eliminate moisture buildup near structural wood. This may entail adding vents to areas that are especially prone to dampness, fixing leaky pipes and faucets near foundations, and keeping any stacks of firewood, cardboard, newspapers, and other wood products well away from foundations. Getting a professional termite inspection each year will also help prevent infestations from taking hold and destroying your property.