What Are Termites and How Do You Get Rid of Them?

Termite colonies are highly organized societies of several hundred thousand to one million or more individual termites within a loose collection of underground tunnels and chambers. Termites build and maintain a nest, care for the immatures and forage for food to eat and carry back to the nest. Termites eat wood and other cellulose products like paper and cardboard.

There are several different types of termites:

Workers – Worker termites are approximately 1/8-inches long, are creamy white, wingless and have a bead-like antennae

Soldiers – Soldiers have large amber heads, have defensive mandibles, are blind and wingless. They defend the colony from invasions

Reproductives – Reproductives are the queens and kings of the colony, they have a larger body size and produce new offspring

Swarmers – Swarmers are approximately 3/8 inches long, are straight-sided with silver wings. Swarmer termites resemble flying ands. Swarmers emerge from the termite colony and go out and create new colonies.

Where Can You Find Termites?

Termites are found all over. The termites that are commonly found in Iowa are called subterranean termites because they live underground. A termite infestation in the home is usually not obvious because most of their activity is concealed. Signs of a termite problem include the presence of pencil-wide mud foraging tubes on foundation walls, floor joists, etc.; the presence of damage inside structural wood, drywall, paneling, molding, paper or cardboard; and the emergence of swarmers. If you see a presence of termites in or near your house you should call a pest control professional to inspect the house and property.

How Can You Tell if You Have Termites?

Subterranean termite workers constantly explore for food by excavating a network of random, pencil-sized tunnels through the soil in the area surrounding their nest. These tunnels are hidden from sight. Foraging may occur over considerable distances – up to 300 feet away. Homes can become infested when the termites find a way into the house when they are searching for food.

If you see damaged wood, that’s a pretty good indication that your home may have termites; however, you probably won’t see them or the damage they create because termites typically live and work out of sight, low to the ground and rarely chew through wood to reach the outside (which would make them more easily detected.)

How Do You Get Rid of Termites?

If you suspect that you have termites at your house – don’t panic. If you think you have a termite problem, take your time to get knowledgeable and reliable information about termites and how to get rid of them. That’s the best time to have your property inspected by a licensed termite inspection professional so you can determine a course of action to get rid of them.