Termites

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SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES
Reticulitermes flavipes

Termites are highly social insects, creating colonies that number into the hundreds of thousands underground, with vast networks of tubes above ground which they use for access to food. They feed primarily on wood, wood by-products, and other cellulose materials. They are closely associated with the soil they inhabit. They need moisture to survive so they can be very problematic to humans in damp or wooded regions.

By the time structural damage becomes visibly evident, an infestation may have already existed for several years, and the unseen damage may be very extensive. Termites cause more than $2-billion in damages each year.

Although termite infestations are usually well established by the time one might notice signs such as outdoor mud tubes, damage to siding, or hollow sounding wood, they tunnel very slowly, so there is time to consult with a professional to properly assess what forms of treatment and prevention are going to be most appropriate for locations and type of structures. Treatment of current infestations, structural repairs, and steps to prevent future infestations should be addressed in planned stages. Because termites avoid exposure to open air to protect their soft bodies, very little can be done to eliminate an established infestation without the assistance of a professional pest control expert.

termite identification swarmerIn the early stages of a colony, shed wings from swarming reproductive termites (kings and queens) may be the only evidence of their presence. Any evidence of termite activity and/or damage should be investigated immediately, because eradication of a long established colony can be costly, time-consuming, and require major structural repairs, as well as require repeat treatments and constant vigilance to prevent re-infestation.

Swarmers, or Alates, are about 3/8"-to-1/2" in length, with two pairs of equal length wings that break off shortly after swarming.

Swarming time is highly dependent on weather patterns. It will normally begin on warm days after a rainfall. In Ohio, swarming usually takes place in March, April and May. Indoor swarming can take place during other months. Swarming is very brief, usually lasting less than one hour. Alates shed their wings quickly afterward.

This page is intended as a quick reference. Pest experts should be contacted for case-by-case evaluation if you believe that you have a pest problem that requires professional assistance.

Some information found in this overview has been compiled from household pest information sheets published by the Ohio State University Extension Office: HYG-2092-03, by the Penn State University Extension Office: Termite Fact Sheet, and by the National Pest Management Association: Pest Guide. This information is included on this web site strictly to help in the identification of various pests, and no profit is directly derived there from.

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