What Do Termites Look Like?

Termites can be hard to distinguish at times from other insects. Luckily, there are several ways to differentiate termites from other insects. They have many characteristics that are visible to the human eye that you can use to identify them.

So What Does a Termite Look Like?

Similarities

First, there are a couple similarities between ants and termites.

  1. They both have 6 legs
  2. They are both small (and are about the same size wise)

Ok, similarities, done.   To see the differences, you are going to have to look closer (see similarity #2 above).

Antenna

The first way to distinguish a termite from an ant is to compare their antenna.

Ants have multi-jointed antenna, where each segment is straight. A termite’s antenna has a curve to them, and they appear to be made up of a series of ‘droplets’.

Body Shape

Termites have a wide body and waistline.

An ants body however narrows at 2 points on their body.

Wings

Note: Only the termite queens and kings have wings, and they loose those after they fly away from their colony to start a new one.

Winged, flying termites have two sets of wings. Both sets of wings are the same size.

Ants also have two visible sets of wings, but their front wings will be significantly larger then their smaller rear wings.

Watch for Signs of Termite Activity

The most obvious sign of a termite infestation however, is to see shed wings or even dead termites themselves around sinks, bathtubs, windows and vents. Other noticeable signs of a termite infestation are mud tubes in or around your home, most likely on the outside of your house. These mud tubes look just as they sound. They are little hollow tubes made of mud that you may find on your siding or around your porch. These tubes will always be approximately one quarter of an inch in width. These hollow mud tubes act as shelter to cover exposed areas that may shed light on their work areas.

Termites can cause a great deal of destruction to your home in a short amount of time. This type of destruction can mean costly repairs for you. If you suspect a termite infestation, it is always best to contact a professional that will be able to lead in the right direction to eliminate these pests before they cause more damage.

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Evaluating Different Ways to Kill Termites

Termites are the single most major wood-destroying structural pests in the United States. According to estimates, over $2 billion is spent each year in the attempting to control or preventing termite infestations.

Termites are considered to be “social insects” – meaning they live in a nest or colony which is typically found underground and near a food source. Much like other social insects, the colony contains a king and queen as well as other subordinate “soldiers” and “workers.” The queen is able to lay thousands of eggs each year; allowing for significant growth in a short period of time.

However, the termites that cause the most structural damage are called “foragers” and their job is to search for food. As colonies expand, these foragers go out and look for new food sources. As the colony matures, some of the termites will develop wings in order to travel greater distances in search of food. This is a sign of colony near your home. If you see winged termites in your home, it is a good indication you may have a termite infestation.

Other signs of termite infestation include mud tubes (which the termites use to travel through as they are not often out in the open like ants) and injury to wood and other cellulose containing structures within your home.

Once identified, there are many ways to rid a home of termites. These are discussed below:

Baiting

Baiting has been a popular way for homeowners to rid their homes of termites. Baits contain toxins that are alluring to the termite and they flock to the bait boxes to feed and are poisoned by the chemicals inside causing them to die. Ideally, the bait is put in the path of the worker termites or near a colony in order for foragers to find it quickly. The death of a significant number of workers and scavengers will result in the death of the colony and the queen as the food supply is effectively shut off.

Get Professional Help

More often, people choose to hire a professional pest control company to handle the job of ridding their homes from termites. Pest control companies have many different methods to combat termites including extensive spraying around your home, baiting (as mentioned above), and fumigation (or “tenting”). If the pest control company uses the tent method or a stronger chemical, you may have to leave your home for safety reasons until the chemical dissipates.

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Possible Signs of Termite Activity

There are many different signs that you can tell if your home has been infested with termites. To ease any of your worries your maybe having about such a pest or find out that you truly are infested; these are some very helpful ways to find out if you have a pest problem on your hands.

If you look along the galleries and there seems to be some sort of mud like material that zig zags or goes in an irregular pattern this may be the termites traveling. These tricky little insects will find their way into your home and begin excavating the wood so only a very thin layer is left on the surface between the cavity and the outside. Once they brake this layer, they will than begin to cover any holes with mud material that consists of soil, feces, and saliva. A way to tell if you have a very problematic termite problem is to look out for what might look like “flying ants” around light fixtures. This is called a swarm and is usually a common indicator in the spring that you may have a nest near by.

If you start to find piles of insect wings around your household, this means the termites that were swarming around have now entered into their next phase. This means you have a strong possibility that they have entered your home or are very close to finding your household in the near future. If you find any live insects the descriptions of a termite include the following; Reproductive queens and kings are 1/2″, winged and a brownish, blackish color. The workers of these pests are usually found hidden within infested wood and measure only up to 1/4″ long, with no wings and their color is white.

Some more obvious types of indication are any buckling paint or tiny holes on wood surfaces. If the wood looks crushed at any structural bearing points this may be a sign of termites. If there are termites in any wood the damaged piece will make a hollow sound if tapped with a hammer. You can pick through the wood with a knife to see if there are any tunnels that run parallel to the wood’s grain. If you do find out that there are termites in your household, this is not considered an immediate emergency because the amount of damage occurs at a very slow pace. If termites are not taken care of properly though, it can cause major damage to your home’s structure. The sooner you contact the pest control professionals though, the easier your pest problem will be eliminated.

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Termite Identification: Know Your Enemy

In order to get rid of termites, the first step is to determine what type of termites are present, and to eliminate the possibility that they may not be termites at all.

The majority of termites in a colony are workers, which are about 2/5″ long and have light-colored bodies, making them look almost like grains of rice. The colony’s protectors are soldiers, which have longer heads and visible jaws. A colony will have one queen, which has a large, distended abdomen up to 4″ long. The queen stays deep within the colony, doing nothing but laying eggs.

When mating, termites grow wings and fly in a reproductive swarm, which can be observed on warm days with little wind. After swarming, the termites lose their wings.

However, not all winged swarming insects are termites. Carpenter ants also have a winged reproductive stage and form swarms, and homeowners may mistake them for termites, but there are several ways to tell them apart. Ants have two larger front wings and two smaller rear wings, whereas termites have wings that are all the same size. The shape of the body is also quite different; ants have curvy bodies with narrow, well-defined waists, while termites have thick, straight bodies. Looking at pictures of these insects will help the homeowner learn to notice the physical differences.

Termites and ants also behave differently. Ants often come out of their nests to forage, forming their characteristic trails across sidewalks and kitchen floors. Termites always try to stay in dark, enclosed areas, and if removed from their nest will only wander in a “confused” way, trying to get back in.

When it is certain that termites are present, it is also important to identify the type of termite that is infesting the home, because different species call for different treatments.

The subterranean termite is the most common in the United States, accounting for 90% of infestations. These termites live underground, and in their reproductive stage they can be identified by their black bodies and white wings. Near the Gulf Coast and Southern California, drywood termites are also common, deriving their name from the fact that they do not need moisture from the ground to survive. In their reproductive stage they have red bodies and black wings.

It is even possible to have infestations of both types of termite at the same time, which will require multiple treatment methods.

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How Do You Get Rid of Termites?

How Do You Get Rid of Termites?

Termite invasion can be a very huge problem for the poor homeowners. These little creatures rapidly increase in number and eat up all the wood they find around the house. They leave the wooden structures hollow from inside, making it susceptible to falling down.

The area beneath the house is called shingles. This area is often moist and humid, and is suitable for the termites to thrive and multiply in hundreds, if not thousands. As they develop so quickly, you need to find a solution as soon as possible. There are a few effective methods known to combat the invading termites and save your furniture and valuable belongings from these nasty insects.

Quite obviously, the first thing you must address is preventing the termites from causing any damages to your floors or wood. In North America, the subterranean or ground termites are most common and they tend to build “mud tubes” from wood found in the soil. This makes them capable of reaching other household commodities made of wood, especially those which are lying around on the surface nearby. Shingles is the area of the house where you need to focus for the complete termination of termite. If you witness any mud tubes on the surface, consider it the first sign that you are in a great problem. In such circumstances, you have the following options with you:

The simplest thing is to hire a professional exterminator who knows how to treat the infection in your specific area and location. Obviously, this is a costly option, but a professional job assures that the termites will not return and your valuables will be safe and secure. Expert exterminators make use of wooden material designed for attracting termite. These are wooden traps that contain toxic chemicals. Upon ingestion, the chemicals kill the pests. This process is called ‘baiting’.

Some people cannot afford to hire professional service providers and prefer to do the task on their own. There are several products available on the market that can help in extinguishing termites. These chemicals can be very effective, provided they are used properly. They do not damage other belongings of the house and you can use them to protect the shingles by erecting barriers around the house. By doing this, you are preventing entrance of termite through all the available passages.

There are also effective pesticide sprays that are used for termite treatment. However, while using them, make sure that you protect yourself and your home. Once all the termites are gone, it becomes necessary to replace the existing shingles. If you have any damaged wood around the house, replace it as well and get the furniture repaired.

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What are Termite Tubes?

What are Termite Tubes?

Termites are insects that feed on dead or decaying plants. These insects are classified as pests mainly because of the damage that they can do to your homes, crops. Termites are very useful insects even though they can do so much damage mainly because they help to cycle whatever they eat back into the environment, but not so great when it comes to feasting on your home.

Termite tubes, sometimes called termite shelter tubes, are are almost like hollow tunnels that they use to shield themselves from the outside world.  These termite mud tubes can be anywhere from only a quarter of an inch to a much larger size.

Termites are very fragile and stand no chance if they were to come head to head with an insect like an ant and so they make these tunnels out of feces, decaying plants, and mud to use as a barrier from the outside world. These tubes help to protect termites from what ever weather situation they might be in like rain, sleet, or hail. The tubes are the super highway when it comes to termites, they will cover up their tracks for miles to make sure that everyone in the colony is safe from any harm. These tubes can be found starting at the base of a tree or home and going up the side of the tree or a house until they reach something that is decaying and they can feast on and can extend all the way back to the termites nests.This is a good thing to look for if you think that you might have a termite problem in your home.

If you feel as though you might have a termite infestation in your home or anywhere close to your home you might want to consider getting a professional to come out there to take care of these little critters because of the large amount of damage that they can do. Unlike other insects termites are not something that you will want to try and take care of yourself as they are known to reinfect areas unless taken care of properly.

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Termite Swarmers – Winged Flying Termites

Termite swarmers are termites that are designated to fly away from the colony and spread the colony to new places. These termites are only capable of spreading the colony and can not cause any damage to your home, worker termites are the insects that eat and destroy the wood in your home. The way that swarmer termites do this is that they have a small pair of wings that give them the ability to fly. However, these insects cannot fly very well and often use the wind to carry them long distances. The reason that they are not good flyers is because their two pairs of wings are both of equal length. Insects such as flying ants also have two pairs of wings but the anterior pair are longer than the posterior pair making them more aerodynamic. While speaking of these flying ants, many people confuse these insects with the swarmer termites.

Here are four simple ways that you can tell these species apart:

1. Ants have bent antennas and termites have straight
2. Ants are sectioned into three body parts while swarming termites have only two body parts
3. The abdomen of an ant is very thin while that of a termite is thick
4. As mentioned earlier, the wings of an aunt are not equal length while the wings of a swarmer termite are.

Now that you know how to identify these insects, I will now tell you where to look for them. If you find these insects on the outside of your home or on trees around your home you may not be in much trouble. Because these swarmers cannot fly very well, they are often blown by the wind onto the exterior of your house or onto neighboring trees and plants. If you find these bugs in these locations, generally you will have no problem. However, if you find a swarmer leaving from the structure of a window, door, porch columns, or any wood structure, then you should contact some pest service. Once inside these structures, swarmers have the ability to mate and begin reproducing working termites which will begin to cause damage to your home. Finding only a couple of swarmers inside your home may only be coincidence. However, if you begin seeing many, than more than likely this indicates that a colony has formed somewhere in your home. The quicker you take care of the problem, the less damage will be done to your home.

While these swarmer termites may sound very intimidating, the success of these little insects is not very good. In order for a female to reproduce, she must first find a male swarmer termite to mate with. Once she has mated, she must find her way to soil which provides protection for her. In order to make it to the soil she must avoid being eaten by birds, reptiles, and other predators. Also, if she does not make it to the soil quickly enough, then she will die and not be able to reproduce. Swarmer termites have a 1/1000 chance of survival and success.

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