Most of us have heard about termites, and many of us know what  they are. But how much of what we think we know is correct? Let’s see.

What are termites?

Termites are soft bodied insects. Though they are commonly known as white ants, they are not ants. 

Termites are small insects, measuring 4-15mm in length. They have body segments and six legs. Unlike ants, their back and front wings are of the same length. Termites can also be differentiated from ants by their antennae. While the antennae of ants are bent at a right angle, those of termites come straight out of the termite’s head. Despite their tiny size, the total weight of termites on earth is more than the total weight of humans because of their large population.

There may be hundreds to several million termites within loose collections of underground chambers and soil. They build and maintain nests, forming colonies and function as a society. Termites forage for and store food. They eat wood and some cellulose products like paper and cardboard. 

Termites are of different types – dampwood, subterranean, and dry wood termites.
Dampwood termites have a tendency to live in heavily forested areas, whereas dry wood termites live in real dry wood. Subterranean termites are the most destructive ones that need moist environments. They are generally found in soil.

Dry wood termites are usually found in the foundations, windows and door frames of your house. They feed on any piece of wood in and around your home.

It is necessary to identify termites in your home. If drywood termites are found to exist in your neighbourhood, it’s a good idea to make regular checks around your house or apartment to prevent the huge damage they can cause to your home.

What attracts termites?

Dampwood and dry wood termites are attracted by moist and dry wood respectively. Subterranean termites need moist soil, so they infest wood that is in contact with soil. They usually construct tubes of mud and use them to travel between the soil and wood. These mud tubes protect them against dehydration and provide a route to wood located above ground. 

Termites can also be brought inside the home by moisture, wood in contact with the foundation, and cracks on building exteriors. Locations having consistent humidity and warm weather are more likely to experience termites.

What causes termite infestation of homes?

Through moisture

Subterranean and dampwood termites are active in humid environments and are attracted by moisture issues created by improper drainage, leakage in pipes, or poor airflow. Wood that is damaged by water is preferred by dampwood termites, while subterranean termites need moisture for their survival.

Through foundations

As subterranean termites need soil or wood to move, wood in contact with the foundation makes the house susceptible to infestation. Any wood or overgrown shrubs around the house also give access to the termites to enter the house. 

Through cracks in building exteriors

Termites come inside the house through cracks in the foundation, or gaps or cracks around doors and windows and start colonies.

Your home is likely your largest investment. Its foundation can be ruined by termites in just a few years. That is why it is so important to get rid of them as soon as you find they have started to invade your home. You should track down the infestation and take professional help to use extermination techniques to moderate severe termite problems.

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