In our Connecticut service area, the termites we battle are subterranean termites. If you're not aware, subterranean termites are the most destructive termites in the United States. They cost property owners more than $5 billion annually. Fortunately, we don't have the worst of the worst when it comes to subterranean termites, (like Formosan subterranean termites or Asian subterranean termites). Those bad boys are limited to tropical and subtropical regions of Florida and Texas. But our termites, Eastern subterranean termites, are definitely not to be shrugged off. Over time, they can completely total a manmade structure. If you'd prefer that they don't total yours, here is a handy guide to help you get a better understanding of them.
Eastern Subterranean Termites
The scientific name for this species is Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar). It is the most widely distributed species in the United States, but it is most concentrated toward the southeastern United States where it is warmer and more humid. In Connecticut, these termites don't typically thrive because the cold winters can slow them down and cause colony sizes to diminish. But they don't diminish entirely.
This species would probably do much better if it established nests inside structures, like Formosan termites can. Then it would have the benefit of warm temperatures all year long. But they're sort of left out in the cold, so to speak. They create ground nests and go in and out of structures. This is good for us as damage from these termites can slow down or stop altogether during the winter months. But, under the right conditions, they can be active all year long. If you have a cellar or crawl space under your home, you may be susceptible to year-round termite damage.
In a termite colony, there is a queen, a king, soldiers, workers, and sometimes reproductive termites. You're not likely to ever see the queen or the king. They stay in the heart of their nest. You may see soldiers or workers if you cut into some wood that they are hiding in, or dig into soil they're tunneling through.
Workers have six legs, two antennae, and three body parts. They look a little bit like pale ants, only the waist of a termite worker does not have a pinch, like the waist of an ant.
Soldiers look like workers only they have big orange heads with black pincers.
The termites you're most likely to see are reproductives. When a nest matures, it may create reproductives for the purpose of developing new nests. These reproductives are sometimes called swarmers as they swarm together after exiting a nest. They do this so that each female can select a mate. Once this is done, they shed their wings and tunnel into the ground.
Winged reproductive termites of this species are black with long white wings. These wings are stacked on top of each other and hang quite a bit past the tip of the abdomen. The entire length of a termite swarmer, including the wing length, is only ⅜ of an inch in length. They are very small. So, it is easy to miss one if it lands on your skin.
You're not going to get many warning signs, and the signs these insects provide are often difficult to detect.
Swarmers: If you see hundreds of white-winged insects in your Connecticut property, this is a sign of a current, active, and mature nest near your home. When you find them on the outside of your property, it is still likely that the nest is near your home. Swarms don't last for more than 30 minutes, and swarmers don't travel far before they settle down to create new nests. This rapid mating process can allow swarmers to go undetected.
Wings: If you miss a termite swarm, you may be able to tell that you had one. Shed wings may be found scattered on window sills on your interior, or on the ground and in cobwebs around your property.
Mud Tubes: When worker termites attack the wood of your home, they may create above-ground mud tunnels called shelter tubes. Look for these in sheltered locations and in areas around your property that stay damp.
Damage: Most of the destruction subterranean termites do is on the inside of wood. If you start to see damage, this is not an early warning sign. You may, however, tap on sound timbers to see if they sound hollow if you want to catch termites early.
The Best Way To Prevent Termite Damage
At Big Blue Bug Solutions, we help property owners in Connecticut guard against termite damage by offering inspections, recommendations on how to alter conducive conditions, targeted soil treatments, and a one-year, renewable warranty that can be passed on if your home is ever sold.
If you have questions, or you'd like to schedule a service visit, reach out to us today. At Big Blue Bug Solutions, we specialize in termite control. We're here to help.