Termite FAQ

Mastering Termites


Termites are wood-feeding insects that are estimated to cause over a billion dollars in damage to U.S. homes each year. They are known as silent destroyers because they can chew through wood, flooring and even wallpaper undetected. Termites feed on cellulose, principally wood. They feed on dead plants and trees, including wood and wood found in the soil. House foundations, furniture, shelves and even books are all possible feeding sites for termites.



What are the different types of termites?

There are three main types of termites.

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites are the most common and the most destructive termite species. They build mud tunnels to reach food sources and protect themselves from open air. Their nests always contain soil. They use their scissor-like jaws to eat wood 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What do subterranean termites look like?

subterranean termiteColor: Creamy white to dark brown/black
Legs:    6
Shape: Long, narrow and oval
Size:    1/8 inch long
Antennae: Yes
Region: Subterranean termites are found in every state except Alaska. They are most common between Florida and Southern California.

Where do subterranean termites live?

Subterranean termites live in underground colonies that can have two million members. They are also found in moist secluded areas above ground.

What are the signs of a subterranean termite infestation?

  • Brownish-black insects swarming in and around house on warm, sunny, spring or fall days.
  • Discarded wings found around building/house.
  • Tunnels of tubes of mud running from the soil up through the air to wooden structures. Tunnels can also run from the ground up past the foundation.
  • Damaged wood that is thin at the surface and easily punctured with a knife or screwdriver.
  • Feeding that follows the grain of the wood.
  • Tubes found in basements and crawl spaces.
  • Dark or blistered flooring.

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites don’t need contact with the ground and don’t build mud tunnels.

Swarming drywood termites fly into structures and infest wood directly. They live within wooden structures such as lumber, siding and wooden trim. They also attack floors, furniture and books. They leave a pattern of chambers and tunnels, which are free of soil, but may be filled with fecal pellets.

What do drywood termites look like?

drywood termiteColor: Creamy white to light brown
Legs:    6
Shape: Long, narrow and oval
Size:    3/8 to 1 inch long
Antennae: Yes
Region: Drywood termites are found primarily coastally from South Carolina to Texas and up the California west coast.

Where do drywood termites live?

Drywood termites infest dry wood, like that found in attics. They can be transported to new locations via an infested piece of furniture, a picture frame, etc.

What are the signs of a drywood termite infestation?

  • Winged insects with reddish-brown heads flying in and around house on warm, sunny days after a sudden rise in temperature.
  • Discarded wings found around building/house.
  • Tiny brown fecal pellets piled below cracks in wooden structures, on windowsills.


Dampwood Termites

Dampwood termites do not need contact with the ground, but they do need wood with high moisture content, that’s why they build their colonies in wood that is wet and decaying. They create large, open galleries within the wood where they live and feed. Leaky pipes and other wet situations may attract dampwood termites.

What do dampwood termites look like?

Dampwood termiteColor: Creamy white to brownish
Legs:    6
Shape: Long, narrow and oval
Size:    1/2" - 5/8 inch long
Antennae: Yes
Region: Dampwood termites are common along the Pacific coast, in the Southwest desert and in southern Florida.

Where do dampwood termites live?

Dampwood termites are usually found in logs, stumps, dead trees, fence posts and utility poles.

What are the signs of a dampwood termite infestation?

  • Yellowish-brown, winged insects swarming in and around buildings at dusk, flying toward lights.
  • Discarded wings found around building/house.
  • Series of chambers/tunnels in wood.
  • Feeding against the grain.
  • Tiny, round or elongated, brown fecal pellets piled below cracks in wood.



How can termites be prevented?

  • Don't attach wooden trellises to outside walls.
    • Trim shrubs and bushes away from the foundation of your home.
    • Remove infested trees and stumps.
    • Never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the yard.
    • Divert water away from your home’s foundation with downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
    • Repair leaking faucets, water pipes and AC units on the outside of the home.
    • Keep basements dry and gutters and drains clean.
    • Remove all wood to soil contact.
    • Cover soil in crawl spaces with plastic sheeting.
    • Seal all cracks and holes in your home's foundation.
    • Reduce humidity in crawl spaces, attics and basements with proper ventilation.
    • Store firewood away from the house and off the ground.
    • Keep mulch away from the foundation.
    • Inspect home foundation for signs of mud tunnels, cracked or bubbling paint, and wood that sounds hollow when tapped.



How can termites be treated?

If you suspect a termite problem, contact a licensed pest professional right away.

You can also use Bayer Termite & Carpenter Bee Killer Plus Foam to supplement a soil-applied termiticide, a termite bait system, or other product registered as a sole source for termite control. Spot treatments can be made, as a temporary control measure, until treatment of the structure, soil and foundation is completed.


Citing source: PestWorld.org