If you have ever in your life seen a termite, you might think that it would be impossible for one of those tiny bugs to cause harmful damage to your home. They are tiny little guys that are normally only about a quarter of an inch in length. The catch is that termites are not usually on their own, if you've seen one that usually means there are thousands more very nearby. These colonies can even range in the millions if unharmed by nature or us. So while the damage that one termite may cause is insignificant, when working as a colony they can cause massive amounts of damage to any building structure. You are probably now wondering how much and how long does it take for them to cause damage if any?
How Do Termite Colonies Work?
To first comprehend the damage termites can cause you must first understand how theses colonies work. Termites, like many insects live in tired colonies. Similar to how bees live among worker bees, the queen bee, and male bees. Now when it comes to termites, there are 4 different common species of termites. Here in Phoenix we have Subterranean termites which cause the most damage here in the Valley. These colonies can reach up to 100,000 in colony size and have different castes which consist of workers, soldiers, reproductives, and nymphs.
Do Termites Really Eat Wood?
Yes they do! Pretty crazy that any organism can merely survive off of the cellulose of the wood within plants and trees. Termites have been known to eat wood. But in fact, they have also been known to chew their way through plastic, insulation in your attic, and some soft metals. Termites eat wood because they seek the cellulose and other nutrients within it to live. They have a special kind of bacteria in their gut that allows them to break down cellulose within wood which is called protozoa, which is why it’s no problem for them to munch through floors. What they eat and how they feed will also vary slightly based on the species of termite. In the United States, there are three types of termites, all found in different locations with different feeding habits:
● Subterranean termites: These are the most destructive termites in the US. They form the largest colonies, eat rapidly through wood. They live underground near moist areas in order to survive. These are known to cause the most damage in structural buildings across the nation.
● Drywood termites: These termites can form multiple colonies within one home. They most commonly go for wooden structures including frames, flooring, and furniture. Their colonies can only reach up to 10K which means they can not do as much damage. They are also much more visible because they live above ground.
● Dampwood termites: As their name might suggest, this type of termite likes wood with high moisture content, including decaying wood and woodpiles. Their colonies can reach up to 1M and usually are non threatening to structured buildings as they usually like to feast in decaying trees and logs.
How Fast Can Termites Cause Damage?
The termites large colony size with their large appetites for cellulose make for a formidable pest. The specific timeframe that termites need in order to cause damage can vary based on several factors. A colony of 60,000 termites can eat a 2x4 piece of wood in about 5 months. Again, this doesn’t seem like a huge amount, and it’s not when you think about how many pounds of wood make up your home. Termite damage happens slowly and over time, and that’s where the problem lies. Once a termite colony makes themselves at home in your home, they can stay there for years. As long as they have that food source which is your home and a moist piece of soil they will not go away. While termite damage is rarely irreparable, it can be extensive and very expensive to repair, especially when termites damage the structural integrity of a home. This is why it is so important to know the signs early in order to get rid of the colony before it becomes a bigger issue.
Signs That You Have Termites
Now that you know a bit about termite colonies and how much damage they can cause, you should also know the signs to look out for so you can avoid termite damage as much as possible. These are just some of the signs that you can look out for to know if you have termites.
● Mud Tubes: Mud Tubes are what termites use to travel from the ground to their food source, they are small and narrow. They’re normally on the exterior of buildings and very small in width. These are always built by subterranean termites and are a for sure sign of termites.
● Floor Damage: Floor Damage looks similar if you had a water damage in your wood. Blistering damage is a good sign of subterranean termites.
● Swelling Wood: A good way of knowing if you have termites in your home is if you can determine if there is swelling in your doors. Or if your door is difficult to shut then this could be a sign that there is swelling inside of the door caused by termites.This is typically caused by subterranean and dry wood termites.
● Evidence of Swarms: When termites swarm which all of them do they will leave behind their silver wings. So if you see large amounts of silver wings on your property, this could be a sign that you either had or currently have termites.
If you are seeing any of these signs do not hesitate to contact Triton Pest Control or book a free inspection online. Termite damage is very expensive to repair, so it’s always better to stop it before it could possibly get worse. When it comes to termites it is all about timing, if you can take care of the issue before it becomes worse the better off you are. We offer competitive pricing and free comprehensive inspections, that's right so it doesn't hurt just to have someone come out and take a look!