Learn about Termites

Termites are the most significant wood-destroying insect in the southern United States. In North Carolina, our main problem is with a type of termites called subterranean termites. These are termites that typically live below the ground and move into the foundations of a building structure where they can cause significant damage.

Like ants, termites are “social insects”, meaning they live in a colony composed of individuals with specialized roles. These colonies are typically found under the ground near a food source such as a tree, stump, or wood pile. Each colony contains a king and queen, as well as soldiers, and workers, and can grow until it contains hundreds of thousands, or even millions of individuals. Because termite colonies can grow so large and because they can remain undetected for years, it is important to conduct periodic inspections of your home.

Although termites are social insects, they do not simply roam around out in the open like ants do. Instead, they tunnel through wood or travel through narrow mud tubes they build. These tubes may be found on foundations walls, between cracks in boards and beams, and other places as well. The presence of tubes may be a sign of past or present termite activity.

Another indication of termites is the presence of “swarmers.” Swarmers are winged adult termites that emerge from a mature colony. In the Carolinas, we have at least three species of termites that swarm. Swarming usually occurs during the day, particularly on warm days after a rain. When swarming occurs outdoors, it is not necessarily an indication of a problem because it could simply mean that there is a nest located somewhere outside, for example near an old stump or woodpile. But when swarming occurs indoors, it usually means that you have an infestation somewhere inside your house and you should call for an inspection immediately!