Image of termites that are feeding on wood

What Is A Termite?

Termites are insects that feed upon wood, often ending up being pests for homeowners. There are two kinds of termites typically experienced by home owners: the worker and the swarmer.

Worker termites are velvety colored, 3-4 mm long, and typically just seen when a mud foraging tube is broken, or infested wood is broken open. Swarmer termites are the reproductive type of the termite colony. They are approximately 4 mm long and dark brown or black in color. They may or might not have wings, as the swarmers lose their wings soon after reproduction. 1Trusted Source Texas A&M University Go To Source

Termites Native To Maryland

The termite species that is native to Maryland is the Eastern Subterranean Termite. As its name suggests, it lives below the soil. Termites, like ants and bees, are social insects and live in colonies.

The termite colony is consisted of several castes consisting of a queen, soldiers, winged reproductives (swarmers) and workers. The winged reproductives, or swarmers, are the type most frequently seen by homeowners. Lot of times termite invasions go unchecked when a homeowner errors termite swarmers for flying ants. 2Trusted Source Maryland MDA Go To Source

What Do Termites Eat?

When a termite comes onto your property, it will not feed on only the wood of your home.  They eat anything that contains cellulose.

Cellulose is an indigestible carbohydrate found in a lot of the foods we eat, such as corn, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and more. Cellulose is a standard building block in the cell walls of plants.

If you have a garden, termites could produce a big problem for you, since they do not just consume wood. And, a garden that is close to your house might add more incentive for termites to come into your backyard and enter into your house. If you find termites in your garden, there is a high likelihood that they are eating your house also.

Reproduction Of Termites 

The primary reproductive castes are the primary male and female reproductives. These are the only true grownups in the colony, with fully established wings, compound eyes, and body coloring.

Main reproductives fly from the colony and then land at differing distance from the natal nest. Males (kings) and females (queens) pair to form what is called tandem sets, then find a nest site, mate and produce offspring. Main reproductives are the primary way that new colonies are formed. 3Trusted Source U.S. National Library Of Medicine Go To Source

Do Termites Bite Humans? 

Termites may bite human beings, however their main target is wood and plant life. This does not suggest that you will not be bitten by a hungry termite, but it is less most likely to happen if the termite colony has other sources for food.

Some termites have pincers that are darker than the rest of their bodies. These pests are the colony’s primary defense against predators. They might pinch if picked up, but the pinches are not thought to result in disease or illness in humans.

Termite bites are unusual, but have actually been known to occur when the food supply is scarce. They are not aggressive insects, but they keep their focus centered on the needs of the colony. This means that it is not normal for a termite to bite you, however they may do so if threatened.

What Damage Can Termites Do?

Image of a tree that has been damaged by termites

They eat into the very structure of your house- the support beams, floor joists, posts, ceiling joists and wall studs. If you or your inspector find shallow termite damage, chances are high that there’s more damage underneath.

If a termite colony gets to the structures that support your home, they can render it unlivable, until the damage is fixed. This is because once the structure of a home is jeopardized, the likelihood of collapsing walls, ceilings, or floors increases.  

And it’s not simply wood structures that are susceptible to termite damage. Termites also enjoy eating plaster, metal siding and insulation. These damages may not cause your home to crumble, but will hurt the visual appeal of your home. 4Source How Stuff Works Go To Source

How Do You Know If You Have Termites? 

Termites seldom emerge from soil, mud tubes, or food sources through which they are tunneling. Many people are not conscious they have termites till they see a swarm or encounter damage during building.

A simple way to check for termites is testing exposed wood. Take a screwdriver and poke into the wood. You are looking for hollowed out centers in which the termites have already eaten. 

Many homeowners see a swarm of insects that appear as ants and continue on without thinking twice. Termites are often mistaken for ants so take a closer look at the swarm may help you identify a termite infestation. 5Trusted Source Environmental Protection Agency Go To Source

The Prevention Of Termites 

If you are in the process of building your home, use a concrete foundation and leave space for ventilation between the wood and soil. Also, cover any exposed wood with metal cover or wood sealant.  

Keep the soil around your home dry. Termites need constant moisture and wet dirt is where the termites tend to go. They also enter homes through cracks and openings, so filling in those spaces with caulk can help prevent entry to the home. 

Keep trees/plants away from the home and if you have firewood stored on your property, also keep that away from the building structure. Termites will see those objects as a food source and once they have eat it all, they will look for another. 6Trusted Source Environmental Protection Agency Go To Source

How Are Termites Removed From A Home?

Every termite infestation comes with it’s own obstacles and tactics for removal. Other things to consider when doing termite removal is if you have young children or pets on your property. In that case non-chemical treatments may be better for your home. Non-chemical treatments include: a physical barrier to the structure of the building (during construction), biological control agents that repel termites, and steel mesh combined with sand to act as a physical barrier. 7Trusted Source Environmental Protection Agency Go To Source

Chemical treatments are used in situation where termites need to be removed as soon as possible. If inexperienced, chemical treatments should be conducted by a wildlife professional to ensure safety and the proper use of the chemicals. Chemical treatments include: liquid soil-applied termiticides, baits, and wood treatments. 8Trusted Source Environmental Protection Agency Go To Source

 

Summary: Termites are insects that feed upon wood, often ending up being pests for homeowners. There are two kinds of termites typically experienced by home owners: the worker and the swarmer. The termite species that is native to Maryland is the Eastern Subterranean Termite. As its name suggests, it lives below the soil. Termites, like ants and bees, are social insects and live in colonies.

They eat anything that contains cellulose. Cellulose is an indigestible carbohydrate found in a lot of the foods we eat, such as corn, cabbage, broccoli, etc. The primary reproductive castes are the primary male and female reproductives (females lay eggs). Termites may bite human beings, however their main target is wood and plant life.

They eat into the very structure of your house- the support beams, floor joists, posts, ceiling joists and wall studs. If you or your inspector find shallow termite damage, chances are high that there’s more damage underneath. Termites seldom emerge from soil, mud tubes, or food sources through which they are tunneling. Checking exposed wood or identify swarms of insects will help find termites. 

Keeping the soil around the home dry, plating tress and storing wood away from the home will help prevent termites. Removing termites can be done in two ways non-chemical practices and chemical practices. Chemical practices should be left to professionals as it is dangerous.