Can homeowners detect termites?
Yes and No. Unless there are obvious signs of active infestations, you probably won’t detect termites, because they actually feed and hide from your sight.
Active infestation sites include discarded wings, hollow wood, cracked paint and droppings that appear like sawdust. The most apparent signs are mud tubes that appear to hollow out the wood.
The Drywood and Subterranean termites are most common types found in Wisconsin. You will rarely find an active termite infestations in Wisconsin, usually it is carpenter ants causing the damage. Colonies will work 24 hours a day 7 days a week, in fact most infestations go undiscovered until serious damage is already done. If you feel that you may have termites, call us and we will evaluate the problem.
Drywood termites have six legs, soft bodies and are pale brown in color during their winged stage. They can have four equal sized wings and approximately 1/2 inch in length. The king and queen feed the young on predigested food until they are able to feed themselves.
Drywood termites are secretive insects and are difficult to detect. They live deep inside wood, except during periods when they swarm. They are active when repair work is being done on infested homes. Colonies are small (usually fewer than 1,000 individuals), they can be widely dispersed and take years to mature.
Drywood termites feed on wood and other items that contain cellulose. Items include paper, fiberboard, and some fabrics derived from cotton or plant fibers. They have protozoa in their digestive tracts that can convert cellulose into usable food. They can cause serious damage to structures, often long before they are discovered. Piles of sawdust-like pellets are a distinct sign of infestation.
The workers, which are about 1/8 inch long, have no wings, are white to cream colored and very numerous. Soldiers are wingless and white in color with large brown heads and mandibles (jaws). King and queen termites are dark brown to black in color and have two pairs of wings about twice the length of their body.
Subterranean Termites live in colonies underground and build tunnels in search of food. They are able to reach food above the ground level by building mud tubes. These pests feed on wood or other items that contain cellulose. Items include paper, fiberboard, and some fabrics derived from cotton or plant fibers. They have protozoa in their digestive tracts that can convert cellulose into usable food.
The king and queen perform the reproductive functions of the colony. Depending on individual species, the growth rates are different from egg to adult stage. There is only one queen per colony, which can lay tens of thousands of eggs in its lifetime. Most eggs are laid by supplementary reproductive in an established colony. Colonies can contain up to 1 million members.
Subterranean termites cause 95% of all termite damage in North America. They are the most destructive insect pests of wood in the United States. They cause more than $2 billion in damage each year, more property damage than that caused by fire and windstorm combined.