Termites are so destructive to homes and office buildings that they cause $5 billion worth of damage every year. This means that they are more harmful than earthquakes, tornadoes and fires combined. Termites never take a vacation, so they are consuming wood every day of the year. They can do an inordinate amount of damage to a home’s foundation and everything that is made of wood. They can even eat books.
Most of their damage is done from in the ground, hence the name. They are also very difficult to find. They chew distinctive “honeycomb??? patterns inside wood, and usually won’t touch the exterior with their tunnels. Subterranean termite colonies are organized into castes depending on tasks – workers, soldiers and reproductives. The characteristics of a subterranean termite are dependent on the termite's role in the colony. Subterranean termites live in underground colonies or in moist secluded areas above ground. They build distinctive "mud tubes" to gain access to food sources and to protect themselves from open air. Like other termite species, they feed on products containing cellulose. Subterranean termites swarm in the spring when groups of reproductive termites go off to start new colonies.
Drywood termite leave piles of fecal pellets and mud throughout the wood, as they digest the wood they eat. Southeastern drywood termites, western drywood termites and powderpost or furniture drywood termites are the three most common types of termites that infest homes in the United States. Drywood termites are social insects. They infest dry wood, like that found in attic framing. Unlike most termite species, drywood termites do not require contact with the soil. Swarming drywood termites fly into structures and infest wood directly.
A drywood termite infestation can be difficult to detect. These insects are rarely seen because they have all the resources their colony needs right in their nest. Look for these signs of drywood termites: small piles of fecal pellets that look like sawdust, shed wings, tiny “kick-out holes??? in wood, “blisters??? on the surface of the wood created by termite galleries made close to the wood’s surface and swarms of winged termites.
Dampwood termites aren’t known for attacking buildings or homes. They stick primarily to moist or rotted wood in and around your yard. If you have constant moisture around your house, they could easily mistake it for a rotten tree log.