Home and housing

A Homeowner’s Guide to Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites are a homeowner’s worst nightmare. A subterranean termite infestation can severely compromise the structure and the safety of your home. Subterranean termites are the most destructive and commonly found wood pests in the United States. If your home is infested with this type of pest, consult with a pest control service to learn more about the termite treatment process.


Habitat and Behavior


Subterranean termites live in colonies underground and travel through mud tunnels to forage for food and water. Some colonies live above ground in moist and secluded areas. Their primary source of food is wood, although they will eat anything that contains cellulose. Subterranean termite colonies consist of three castes – workers, soldiers, and swarmers.


The workers of the colony are cream-colored. They are responsible for gathering wood and cellulose to feed the rest of the colony.


The soldiers are similar in appearance, however they are slightly larger than the workers. They use their strong jaws to fight and protect the colony against threats.


Alates (swarmers) are the reproductive caste of the colonies. They have two sets of wings that they shed once they reproduce. They fly off in the spring to start new colonies. Once they find a suitable place they mate, reproduce, and become the king and queen of that colony. Once they start their own colonies, they stay with those colonies for the rest of their lives.


Risk to Homeowners


Each year, subterranean termites cause billions of dollars in property damage. They use their jaws to bite tiny pieces of wood 24 hours a day. They never stop eating until their food source is depleted. An infestation significantly increases the chances of a homeowner losing their home to extreme structural damage.


Treatment Process


The sooner you start the treatment process, the better your chances are for saving your home. Things you can do to prevent a subterranean termite infestation include:


  • Reduce the amount of water that accumulates around your home’s foundation. Regularly inspect and maintain all gutters, spouts, and splash structures. They direct water away from the home.


  • Firewood should be stored at least 20 feet away from the home and mulch should be kept at least 18-inches away from the home.


  • Reduce the humidity inside of the home by improving the ventilation of air throughout the home, especially in crawl spaces, basements, and attics. A dehumidifier can help to reduce the humidity as well.


If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact a professional pest control service right away. For additional information and resources on termites, visit PlanetOrange.

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