Native Subterranean Termites

Reticulitermes spp., Coptotermes spp., Heterotermes spp.

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Native Subterranean Termites

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The Native Subterranean termite is the most common and widely distributed termite in North America.

This native pest feeds on cellulose materials including structural wood, wood fixtures, paper, books, and cotton. Occasionally, it will even attack the roots of shrubs and trees. A mature colony of Native Subterranean termites can range from a low of 20,000 to a high of five million workers, with an average of 300,000. The colony's queen may add 5,000 to 10,000 eggs per year to the total.

Not only can the worker termites in the Native Subterranean termite colonies be large in number, multiple colonies may also be located on a single property. This situation can mean increased risk of termite damage to your home and structures. Common signs of the presence of Native Subterranean termites may be dirt-like shelter tubes built to serve as protected paths from the soil to the wood the termites are feeding on, or the translucent wings shed by the kings and queens during swarming.

There are a few important facts you should understand about the behavior of Native Subterranean termite:

  • An average colony can consume five grams of wood per day, the equivalent of 2 1/3 linear feet of a 2'x4' pine board annually.
  • Colony growth is slow, and it may take four to 10 years before swarmers are produced.
  • Native Subterranean termites can enter buildings through cracks less than 1/16" wide.
  • Although colonies are largely located in the ground, secondary colonies can exist above ground. However, such above ground colonies must have access to moisture source, such as a roof or plumbing leak.
  • Native Subterranean termites will often build shelter tubes for travel between their colonies and their food sources.
  • The king and queen in a colony can live for many years. Workers live for about two years.

Native Subterranean termite swarming may occur in the spring, but other, smaller swarms may occur throughout the summer and into the fall. Native Subterranean termite growth can be slow, and it may take as many as four to 10 years before swarmers are produced. Swarms may occur in the morning to early afternoon on a warm, humid day, especially after a rain, and may be extensive in a neighborhood. Swarms interior to a home almost always mean that the structure is infested and a pest professional should be contacted for an inspection. Interior swarms will many times be found near windows, doors, etc., as the flying reproductives are attracted to lighted areas.

Termites are most visible to homeowners when they're swarming. Still, termites can damage unprotected structures all year long. In fact, you could have an active termite infestation in your home and never see a swarm. Contact your pest professional to learn more about preventing termites from damaging your home.

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