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Identifying Subterranean Termites

Termites can be found across the united states, and reside in every state besides Alaska. Subterranean termites live in soil, hence the name, subterranean. However, they pose a threat to us when they enter our homes and cause destruction and damage as they devour wooden structures. It may be hard to pinpoint a subterranean termite infestation at first, due to the fact that they usually hide their activity inside of walls or under the siding on your home. The most common evidence we find is Mud Tubes and Swarmers (Reproductive Termites).

There are several different types of subterranean termites, each with a slightly different look than the others. First, there are the winged subterranean termites, commonly called swarmers. These termites range in color from black to light yellowish brown and have wings. Here in California we seem being primarily Black They look similar to winged ants and can easily be confused with them. You can tell a winged termite apart from a winged ant by observing it closely. A winged termite has four equal length clear wings, while a winged ant has two long wings and two shorter wings. A termite has two straight antennae, while a winged ant ‘s antennae bend in towards each other. The biggest difference is that a termite has only two body segments which will be a solid color, while a winged ant has three body segments and can often be found with red and black coloring.

Worker subterranean termites do the most damage. Worker termites make up the majority of a subterranean termite colony and are the termites that would most likely be found in homes, destroying wood. These worker termites are a light cream color and do not have wings. Soldier subterranean termites look just like the worker termites, except they have larger brown heads and pincher type jaws. A sign that a subterranean termite colony has matured is that a large amount of swarmers, or winged termites will be present. This usually occurs two to four years after the colony has started. These winged termites swarm from around the months of January to April and are active during the daytime.

Worker termites will often build mud, tube-like structures outside of the walls or areas they are inhabiting.These are called shelter tubes. They build these shelter tubes to protect themselves when they are outside of the protection of a wall or siding. These tubes are usually brown and are made of dirt, held together by the termites saliva and fecal matter. This allows the termites to move back in fourth, in large numbers, from their outdoor colony to their food source, which is the wood found in homes. These mud tube structures can also be found inside termite damaged wood and is a helpful identifier of subterranean termites. Some of the first signs often noticed by home owners of subterranean termite infested homes are signs of swarmers. These winged termites are often found in large groups near windowsills or light fixtures. They will also be found in areas where an abundance of moisture can be found, due to the fact that these termites are easily dehydrated. There also may be wings left behind from these swarmer termites.

Another clear sign of termites are structures that they build called launching castles. These can be found protruding from the ground, walls, or wooden structures that are infested with termites. They are brow or brownish red and look similar to the shelter tubes, except they can protrude out from the ground or wall. These are used so that the swarming termites can launch themselves out of the colony, often into your home. Look out for those common signs of subterranean termite infestations while identifying termites.  

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