Termite Identification

What are termites?

Termites are insects that feed on wood. They have microorganisms (protozoa) living inside their digestive systems that break down the cellulose in wood into digestible sugars. The most widespread species of termite living across the United States is the Eastern subterranean termite. Eastern subterranean termites live in large social colonies and divide themselves into different castes. Each caste has its own job to help the colony thrive.

dozens of termites crawling on damaged wood at a home in washington dc

Workers
Workers make up the bulk of the termite colony and are responsible for the damage termites cause inside structures. They have soft creamy white bodies, no wings, are blind, and are about ¼ of an inch long.

Soldiers
Soldiers appear similar to the workers, except they are larger and have an elongated yellow head, large jaws, and short legs. Their job is to protect the colony from threats.

Reproductives
Reproductives (kings and queens) are the biggest members of the colony and the only termites that have wings. They are dark brown to black and about ¼ to ½ an inch long.

Are termites dangerous?

Termites are dangerous to properties, not people. When living out in nature, termites feed on decaying wood, helping to return nutrients to the soil. However, when termites find their way inside a building to feed on its structural wood, they become damaging and unwelcome pests. Termites cause over five billion dollars in damages each year.

Why do I have a termite problem?

Termites often find their way onto a property after a termite swarm. A termite swarm occurs after a colony has reached maturity (about three years). At this time, winged reproductive members will “swarm” from the colony to find a mate. Mated pairs will then establish a new colony. If they create a nest on or near your property, termites will likely find their way into your home while out foraging for food. Termites get into homes and other buildings through cracks in the foundation or through wood that is making direct contact with the soil, such as deck posts or steps, wood siding, or wood trim.

Where will I find termites?

Eastern subterranean termites create their nests underground; they do not live in the wooden structures they feed on. They travel back and forth from their nest to food source each day, working 24/7, year-round to feed their vast colonies. In addition to moving under the soil, subterranean termites create mud tubes that allow them to travel above the ground while staying out of the view of predators and maintaining their moisture needs.

Inside homes, termites usually feed on structural wood, preferring wood damaged by water. They begin by feeding on the wood found at ground level, below floors, and behind walls, and eventually move to the wooden beams located above ceilings.

How do I get rid of termites?

If you want to solve your termite problems once and for all, turn to the local experts at Capitol Pest. Since 1936 we have been using the latest technology and most effective products to guard residential and commercial properties against termites and other pests.

At Capitol Pest, we know pests, and we know how to keep them out of Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia homes and businesses using comprehensive treatments and prevention measures. For more information about our commitment to solving your property’s pest problems, contact us today!

How can I prevent termites in the future?

For homeowners who want to keep termites out of their yards and homes, partner with the experienced professionals at Capitol Pest. With the help of our year-round, affordable pest control services and the following prevention tips, your home will become and stay free of termites!

  • Keep gutters clear of debris and install weatherstripping around windows and doors to prevent water from seeping into your home. Also, fix any leaky pipes, faucets, or fixtures.

  • Use dehumidifiers to keep moisture levels low inside your house and dry out basements and crawlspaces.

  • Create an 18-inch barrier between any mulch or soil and your foundation and other wood structures to prevent easy access to your house.

  • Remove food sources like fallen trees, tree stumps, and piles of leaves from your property.

  • Replace mulch with non-organic gardening materials like crushed rock, rubber mulch, or other options.

  • Seal any cracks that form in the foundation of your home.

Helpful Termite Articles

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