What Are Termites?
Termites are small insects closely related to cockroaches and just as despised. Winged termites mate in the air before flying off to begin a new colony. Once they’ve found a suitable nest the wings are shed. The queen can lay up to 30,000 eggs at once, which hatch into white larvae. After several molts each larvae has become a fully-grown adult, prepared to take its role as a worker, soldier, or reproductive termite, called an alates. Only alates develop wings and functioning eyes. At maturity alates leave the nest in a swarm, beginning the cycle anew.
These eusocial insects live in colonies numbering from several hundred to several million members. Termites are detritivores, which means that they feed on detritus, including wood, leaf litter, dead trees and plants, soil and animal dung. There are over two thousand species and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. The forty-five species native to North America fall into three main categories.Subterranean termites live in the soil and build tunnels to food sources such as dead trees, fence posts and the structural timber of houses. Drywood termites typically live inside the wood itself, including structural timbers and hardwood floors. Dampwood varietiesare rarely found in homes, as they require high moisture content wood.
While termites are tiny, measuring only 7 to 15 mm long, they eat continually. Depending on the species and the number of workers a colony can devour as much as an entire linear foot of a 2x4 board in only two days. In the wild they provide a valuable service recycling dead organic material. However, in populated areas these pests can silently devour a home from the inside out. They will feed on the furniture, shelves and books, and the very walls and foundation of your home.
Termites relentlessly tunnel through the wood, making it porous and spongelike inside, eventually decomposing it to the point where entire walls can just collapse. Even homes built on a solid concrete foundation are not safe, as these insects can build walls of packed earth up and over the masonry, or creep through tiny cracks to the timber within. Beams can be treated to resist an infestation, but even this method is not foolproof. Termites cause an estimated $5 billion in property damage each year, destroying homes of all types. Once a colony has been established fumigation is the only way to eradicate the pests and prevent further damage.
While termites are tiny, they can destroy a home from within. Because the damage is covert inspections should be conducted regularly to eradicate a problem before it becomes serious. For more information about termite treatment in Raleigh please visit this website.
David has over 10 years of experience dealing with Pest Control situations. You can find his thoughts at about the pest blog on Blogspot.
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