Termites are pale-colored small insects with soft bodies. They are mostly found in warm and tropical regions. They live in colonies and are termed as social insects. Termites resemble ants in their appearance, social organization, and manner of living. The only difference being they come from a different order of insects. They are also called white ants. They range from ¼ to ½ an inch in size. They are a significant part of most ecosystems since they break down dead plant materials. Without them, there would be dead wood around.
What are the different types of termites?
There are different types of termites; they include; subterranean termites. This species is found in every state except Alaska. They live in underground colonies or moist parts above the ground, and they can be up to two million members. They build distinct ‘'mud tubes'' to shield themselves from the air and gain access to food. They are currently the most destructive pests in the United States of America. A typical colony contains between 60,000 and 1 million termites.
The second is the Formosan termites. They originated in China. They are the most aggressive and devious. They are organized into vast underground colonies where they build mud nests inside the walls of a structure. Because of their dynamic nature, they are challenging to control once they invade a structure. They can create colonies containing 350,000 to 2 million termites. Formosan termites are found in North Carolina, Georgia, Carolina, South Carolina and California.
The third category is the Dampwood termites, as the name suggests they invade wood with high moisture content. They are larger than the other termites. They don't invade structures because of the low moisture content of the wood used to build. They are found in Pacific coastal and neighboring states, southern Florida and semi-arid south-west.
The next species is the Drywood termites. These infest dry wood and do not need contact with soil. They build nests in roof material, and wooden wall supports. They can also be found in forest lying around the house. Although they do not need moisture, they may be found in the wood near a water source. The maximum colony size is approximately 4800 termites. Drywood termites are located in the southern states from North Carolina through the Gulf coast and into the coastal areas of California.
The last termite type is the conehead termites. They are found in the Caribbean and are very invasive. They were first discovered in the United States in 2001. They were previously named ‘'tree termites'' but later changed to conehead termites to discourage the misconception that they are only found in trees. In 2003, the species was believed to have been eradicated, but recently the Florida department of agriculture and consumer services confirmed the reemergence in Broward County, Florida. These termites do not rely on underground tunneling to travel they forage on the ground like ants making it easy for them to spread fast. They are very aggressive and are known to cause profound damage over a brief period.
Are Termites Harmful?
Termites are very harmful. Infestation and the damage they cause can be very devastating. They are termed ‘’silent destroyers’’ because they hide, thrive and destroy without any sign of damage. They eat dead plants and trees. They get nutrients from cellulose which is an organic compound found in trees and plants. Wood is the primary constituent of their diet, but they can also feed on paper, drywall, and plastics. Most species prefer dead wood, but some feed on living trees. Each termite species has different diet preferences. For example, Drywood termites eat wood that has little moisture, Dampwood termites will choose decaying moist wood whereas subterranean termites prefer softwoods.
People should learn to notice the earliest signs of termite infestations in their structures and especially homes. The earlier they are detected, the easier it will be in controlling them. Once they fully invade a structure or trees, it becomes tough and expensive to destruct them. Termites can be controlled using insecticides.