Here in the Carolinas, termites are a major cause of household repair needs. The fact that termites can be quite difficult to find makes the problems they can cause remain hidden from what a typical homeowner can see until repair needs are substantial. With your home being the biggest investment most will make in their lives, it is clear just how important maintenance and protection can be. Nelon-Cole specializes in exactly these types of protection, not only from termites and other pests, but also water related issues like flooding, mold, milder, and air quality issues. Today we want to concentrate on the most hidden of all pests, termites, and discover more about how they live, how they hide, how they thrive, and how you can avoid the problems they can cause.
Termites are small, social insects that are often referred to as "white ants" due to their pale coloration and ant-like appearance. While they may seem slight and insignificant, termites are responsible for billions of dollars in property damage each year and are considered a serious pest in many parts of the world, including the Carolinas. Termites are typically pale or white in color, which is why they are often mistaken for ants. Their bodies are also somewhat translucent, allowing you to see their internal organs and digestive system under the right lighting conditions. Termites vary in size depending on their role within the colony. The worker caste is typically the smallest, measuring around 0.12 to 0.63 inches in length. Soldiers are slightly larger, measuring around 0.24 to 0.79 inches in length. The reproductive caste, also known as swarmers or alates, can be much larger, measuring up to 1 inch in length. The size of the termite will also vary depending on the species.
TERMITES NATIVE TO THE CAROLINAS
No, termite species in the Carolinas aren’t able to be spotted by them carrying around tiny Cook Out or Bojangles bags – you need to look a little closer than that. Our region here is indeed home to a variety of termite species, each with their own unique characteristics and behaviors. Some of which include:
Eastern Subterranean Termite The Eastern subterranean termite is the most common termite species found in the Carolinas. These termites live in large colonies that can contain millions of individuals. They build their nests underground and construct mud tubes to move between their nests and food sources. Eastern subterranean termites are known for their destructive feeding habits, and they can cause significant damage to wooden structures, including homes, businesses, and fences.
Formosan Subterranean Termite The Formosan subterranean termite is an invasive species that was introduced to the Carolinas in the mid-20th century. These termites are more aggressive than other subterranean termite species and can cause extensive damage to wooden structures in a short amount of time. Formosan termites also have larger colonies than Eastern subterranean termites, with some colonies containing over 10 million individuals. They are known for their ability to chew through non-cellulose materials like concrete, plaster, and asphalt.
Drywood Termite The Drywood termite is a termite species found in the southern coastal regions of the Carolinas. These termites do not require contact with soil and can live entirely within wooden structures. Drywood termites are known for their ability to form multiple colonies within a single structure, making them difficult to detect and control. They are also known for producing hard fecal pellets that can be found near infested wood.
Dampwood Termite The Dampwood termite is a species of termite found in the humid, coastal regions of the Carolinas. These termites prefer to feed on damp or decaying wood, making them more commonly found in natural habitats rather than human structures. Dampwood termites are known for their large size, with some individuals measuring up to an inch in length.
Conehead Termite The Conehead termite is an invasive termite species that was first discovered in Florida in 2001 and has since spread to other parts of the Southeast, including the Carolinas. These termites are named for their cone-shaped heads, which are used to defend their colonies. Conehead termites are aggressive and can cause significant damage to wooden structures. They do not require contact with soil and can live in trees, woodpiles, and other above-ground structures.
SOME SIGNS OF TERMITE INFESTATIONS
Mud Tubes Mud tubes are one of the most visible signs of a termite infestation. These tubes are made of mud and dirt and are used by termites to travel between their nests and food sources. Mud tubes can be found along foundation walls, in crawl spaces, and around the exterior of the home.
Swarmers Termite Swarmers are winged termites that leave the nest to start new colonies. They are often seen in the spring or early summer and can be mistaken for flying ants. If you see swarmers in or around your home, it's a strong indication of a termite infestation.
Wood Damage Termites feed on wood, and their presence can often be detected by the damage they cause. They will often hollow out wooden structures, leaving behind a thin layer of wood or paint. If you notice any signs of wood damage, such as hollow-sounding walls or floors, or peeling paint or wallpaper, it's important to have a pest control professional inspect your home.
Frass Termite droppings, also known as frass, can be another sign of a termite infestation. Frass is small, granular, and resembles sawdust. It can often be found near termite tunnels or damaged wood.
Discarded Wings When swarmers mate they shed their wings, which can often be found near windows, doors, or other light sources. If you find piles of discarded wings, it's a sign that swarmers have entered your home and may have started a colony.
HOW LONG DO TERMITES LIVE The life cycle of common termite species found in the Carolinas can vary depending on the species, but generally, it consists of three stages: the egg stage, the nymph stage, and the adult stage. The typical life cycle of a termite (again, depending on species) is around 1-2 years, depending on many factors. Let's take a look at what comprises the life cycle of a termite.
Egg Stage The termite life cycle begins when the queen lays eggs. Termite eggs are small and white, and they are typically laid in clusters. The queen can lay thousands of eggs each day, and the eggs will hatch within a few weeks.
Nymph Stage After hatching, the young termites are known as nymphs. Nymphs are soft-bodied, wingless, and pale in color. They go through several molts as they grow, shedding their exoskeleton and developing their characteristic hard outer shell. During this stage, the nymphs develop into different castes, such as workers, soldiers, or reproductive termites.
Adult Stage Once they reach maturity, the termites become adults. The length of the adult stage varies depending on the species, but it can last anywhere from a few months to several years. During this stage, reproductive termites develop wings and leave the colony to mate and start new colonies. Once they have successfully mated, the reproductive termites shed their wings and become the queen and king of a new colony.
TYPICAL DAMAGE TO YOUR HOME
So you are asking yourself the big question – “exactly what types of damage can be caused by termites – just how bad could it be?”. Here are some of the more common damage issues we see from our customers here at Nelon-Cole; the customers who have typically neglected routine pest control measures:
Structural Damage Termites can cause significant structural damage to a home by eating away at wooden beams, support posts, and other wooden components. Over time, this can weaken the structure of the house, making it unsafe and potentially requiring costly repairs
Foundation Damage Termites can also damage the foundation of a home, which can cause the foundation to sink or shift, leading to cracks in the walls, ceilings, and floors. This can also result in doors and windows becoming misaligned and difficult to open or close.
Wood Damage Termites feed on wood, and their presence can often be detected by the damage they cause. They will often hollow out wooden structures, leaving behind a thin layer of wood or paint. If left untreated, this can lead to the eventual collapse of the wooden component.
Insulation Damage Termites can also damage the insulation in a home, which can reduce the home's energy efficiency and increase heating and cooling costs.
Furniture Damage Termites can also infest wooden furniture, causing significant damage that may require expensive repairs or replacement.
Mold and Moisture Problems Termites can create moisture problems in a home by creating mud tubes and tunnels, which can lead to mold growth and other moisture-related issues.
As any homeowner should be able to see from this, the various species of termites that are native to our region can cause big problems (and big expenses) for homeowners. Nelon-Cole technicians are rigorously trained and held to the highest professional standards when it comes to all aspects of our business of protecting your home; pest control, mold and water control, and repairs and renovations of areas affected by pest and water damage. Our affordable and award-winning solution have earned hundreds of positive reviews across social media, and countless thousands of recommendations from satisfied customers. We believe that honest and dependable service isn't something that should be special - it should be expected. Call and speak with a Nelon-Cole professional today, and let us help with your pest and moisture control issues regardless of where you are in our Carolinas service area. Call 1-888-7-TheWeb and learn why Nelon-Cole has earned our reputation as the very best in pest and moisture control services!