Habits of Subterranean Termites
Subterranean termites live underground and build mud-tube tunnels to reach food sources. Like other termite species, they feed on wood and other products containing cellulose. Swarming in the spring, groups of the winged, reproductive subterranean termites will fly off to start new colonies.
Subterranean Termite Tubes & Habitat
Subterranean termites need contact with the soil to survive and thrive underground, which is why they build their distinctive "mud tubes" (sometimes called “termite tubes”) to gain access to food sources and to protect their colonies from the open air. These industrious termites can even build tunnels through cracks in the concrete.
Causing over $2 billion in damages every year, subterranean termites are by far the most destructive species of termite — responsible for 95 percent of all termite damage in North America. Capable of collapsing entire buildings, subterranean termites can mean financial ruin for homeowners and businesses. The hard, saw-toothed jaws of these termites work like shears to bite off small fragments of wood, one piece at a time.
How to Prevent Termite Infestations
There are steps you can take to prevent a termite infestation, including:
- Avoid water accumulation near your home's foundation. Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters, and splash blocks.
- Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation.
- Never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the yard.
- Eliminate wood contact with the soil. Maintain a six-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building.
Experts also recommend a baiting system as the best way to prevent a termite infestation. Arrow Exterminators offers comprehensive termite control built around the Sentricon system, the world’s most advanced termite protection system. Learn more about our termite prevention.
Signs of a Subterranean Termite Infestation
Because these pests can cause enormous amounts of damage in a short amount of time, it is important to keep an eye out for the signs of an infestation. Subterranean termites can be detected by their cardboard-like excrement called “carton,” which is used to line their mud tubes.
Though voracious, picky subterranean termites feed with the grain of the wood, eating only softwood. Look for their signature tunnels along the wood grain, with only layers of damaged hardwood left behind.
Signs of a later-stage infestation include airborne, subterranean termites that resemble flying ants, but have straight antennae and four wings that are all the same size. After mating, these swarmers shed their wings, leaving behind evidence of their activity. Look for wings near baseboards and around the perimeter of your home to identify if you may have a colony.
If you do spot signs of an infestation, contact us using the form below for a complete termite inspection.