#eastern #subterranean #termite
Eastern Subterranean Termite
The most abundant species of termite in the United States, eastern subterranean termites are found throughout the North American continent, with a strong presence in the Mid-Atlantic region. Colonies range in size from less than 10,000 to more than a million termites. Given their large numbers and widespread distribution, eastern subterranean termites cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in structural damage each year.
What Do They Look Like?
Size: Size depends on the caste of the individual termite. Typically, eastern subterranean termites are less than 1/2 an inch in length.
Color: Also varying by caste, color ranges from milky white or pale yellow to dark brown or black.
Characteristics: Eastern subterranean termites are long and oval in shape. Members of certain castes have wings long enough to reach past the abdomen.
Worldwide in distribution, the eastern subterranean termite is most prominent in the eastern United States. Also found in the Midwest and South, the pests live from Maine to Florida and from Montana into Mexico.
Like other termite species, eastern subterranean termites feed on wood. Specifically, the pests target spring wood, as the species cannot digest summer wood.
All species of termites share a unique and complex maturation process. Winged eastern subterranean adults called alates swarm anytime between late February and early April. Swarming involves leaving the current colony in search of a suitable location for a new colony. After locating a nesting site, the alates settle, shed their wings, and begin producing eggs. Once the eggs mature to a certain point, the colony founders assume the roles of king and queen.
Termite eggs develop into soldiers, workers, or reproductives depending on the needs of the colony. The most abundantly filled role, workers are small and have poor eyesight. They tend to the colony and feed the young. Soldiers, on the other hand, have advanced mandibles ideal for protecting the colony. Reproductives either have wings and develop into alates that participate in swarms, or they lack wings and take over for the queen in case of death. The average lifespan of workers and soldiers is two years.
- May spot alates swarming during certain months of the year.
- Look for the mud tunnels that termites construct along walls.
- Infested wood may sound hollow or give easily when probed.
Problems Caused by Eastern Subterranean Termites
Eastern subterranean termites cost homeowners exorbitant amounts of money in structural damage when left unchecked. When the pests infest homes, they often target structurally important wood that comes into contact with the soil. As the pests tunnel through the wood, the support beams and walls of the home become weakened, which puts the structure in danger of collapsing. Eastern subterranean termites, however, need a significant amount of time to create such extensive damage, and monitoring the home for their presence makes it possible to catch infestations early.
Signs of Infestation
Since the majority of notable termite activity takes place under the surface of wood, the most apparent sign of an eastern subterranean termite infestation comes when alates swarm. If the winged termite adults are spotted in the house, a colony probably exists somewhere indoors. Additional signs of termite infestation include the sight of mud tunnels along basement walls and the presence of any hollow-sounding or visibly weakened wood around the home.
While no completely foolproof home prevention methods exist to keep termites at bay, individuals can still implement certain strategies to make the home less favorable to the pests. Effective ways to prevent termites from infesting include keeping foundation walls and siding clear of vegetation, refraining from using mulch in areas around the immediate perimeter of the home, fixing any leaky pipes or moisture buildups, and getting rid of any wood to ground contact.
Tips for Removal from Home
A challenge to control, termite infestations often require the use of toxic baits and termiticides. As a result of the potentially dangerous chemicals typically utilized to eradicate infestations, any suspected termite activity warrants the contacting of a pest control professional. With the appropriate gear, knowledge, and certifications, professional specialists can remove the pests safely and completely.