How to Treat Flying Termite Infestations
Subterranean termites, the most prevalent termite species in New England, sometimes invade homes and other structures when foraging for cellulose-based food sources like wood. As the name of the species indicates, subterranean termites live in colonies underground within the soil.
Consequently, termite infestations generally remain hidden from view. Residents in homes affected by termites often only see certain signs of an infestation. A subterranean termite colony typically contains anywhere between 10,000 and 2,000,000 termites.
Three different types (castes) of termites exist within a functional colony. Castes of a termite colony include:
- A king and queen (winged reproductive.)
- White or cream-colored workers.
- Soldiers, whose bodies resemble workers but possess an oversized head and jaws.
Homeowners experiencing termite infestations often become aware of the problem after seeing groups of winged reproductives, or swarmers, in the home as the insects emerge to mate.
Signs of Infestation
In addition to the presence of swarming winged reproductives, termite infestations in homes are also often evidenced by the presence of worker termites. When foraging for wood above ground, termites construct protective tubes out of moist soil (in an effort to keep their preferred subterranean habitat).
Often found along foundation walls, mud tubes are clear signs of a termite infestation. Though harder to find, damaged wood in or around a structure also signals an infestation or the nearby existence of a large termite population.
Termites carve out tunnels, or galleries, within the wood that usually follow the grain and are often lined with mud or fecal material. Dark spots or blisters on the surface of the wood can indicate the presence of interior termite damage.
Because termites leave the exterior of wood largely unscathed, homeowners should use a blunt instrument to tap the wood and listen for areas that sound hollow in order to detect possible termite galleries. Another common sign of termite infestation are the piles of wings shed by the swarmers near a window or attractive light source.
Both the evidence of an active termite infestations and the origin of the invading colony can be difficult to locate. As subterranean termites live beneath the soil, the ways in which the insects gain entry to a structure and cause an infestation are usually shielded from view.
Generally, termites invade homes and other buildings by crawling through cracks in the foundation. Locations where utility wires or pipes enter the structure also provide access for termites.
Once inside, termite workers locate wood structures and build mud tubes linking the outdoor colony to the indoor food source and enabling infestations to occur. Termites also infest homes via structures like outdoor decks and porches, which rest directly on top of the soil.