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Wild for Wood: Four Common Types of Termites
Causing an estimated $1 billion in damages every year, more than 53 distinct species of termite have been found in the United States. Here’s some details on the most common culprits.
Subterranean Termites: Found throughout the US, these termites are the most notorious gluttons of wood. Like most termites, they use scissor-like jaws to constantly feed on cellulose. They live in underground colonies or moist, secluded areas above ground, from which they build tunnels called "mud tubes" to reach food sources and protect them from open air. This ability to live in any region, coupled with their voracious appetite, make them the most destructive termite species. Home infestations begin when warm temperatures and heavy rainfall trigger an existing colony to send out swarms of winged males and females.
Drywood Termites: These termites often swarm on sunny, warm days, though they can also travel to new locations via an infested item, such as a piece of furniture. Common throughout the southern coastal regions, they’re often found in attic wood, where they chew through support beams, floors, and walls in an attempt to find old treasure maps. Infestations are identifiable by piles of tiny fecal pellets, typically on windowsills.
Dampwood Termites: Dampwood termites can be found along the Pacific coast, in the southwest, and in southern Florida. True to their name, they infest wood with high moisture, such as rotten or decaying logs. Generally larger than other termite species, they don't typically infest structures, mostly because they need an abundance of moisture to survive.
Formosan Termites: This is a particularly aggressive species of subterranean termite found mostly in southern states. They enter foundations through the ground, but they can form a carton to maintain moisture in their nest. This means that, unlike other subterranean species, they don't have to return to the soil, so they can spend all of their time eating in the basement, just like Cousin Phil.