Termite Facts Every Homeowner Should Know

Termites are amazing little insects that have roamed the Earth for hundreds of millions of years. There are over 2600 species of termites throughout the world, and these resilient insects can be found on every single continent on the map - including Antarctica. Termites feed on decaying wood. Because they dispose of a large amount of the world's decaying plant material, these insects provide a valuable ecological service. When they form colonies in urban areas, however, these destructive little insects can cause a whole lot of damage to homes. Below are some useful termite facts every homeowner should know.

Termites are very social insects that live in colonies with caste systems, which means the insects within the colony fall under different social classes and perform specialized roles within the colony. There are three termite castes: reproductives, workers and soldiers. The colony's chief female reproductive insect, the queen, lays several thousand eggs every day for her entire lifespan, which can last as much as two decades. Some colonies actually have several queens laying eggs simultaneously. A termite colony may survive its queen, however, and a reproductive nymph will step up after the death of the queen and begin laying eggs to ensure the colony's survival.

One of the most important termite facts is that these insects eat 24/7. They consume wood in order to get at the cellulose inside. Cellulose is a substance found in plant fiber that provides the energy needed to feed entire colonies. Termites are not able to break down and digest the cellulose on their own, however. To aid with digestion, these insects enlist the help of single-celled organisms which live in their stomachs. This symbiotic relationship developed over millions of years and is necessary for termite survival.

Subterranean termites cause the most destruction to homes in the United States. This type of termite lives in large colonies underground which can contain up to a million insects or more. They build mud shelter tubes to travel to and from food sources. Once there, they feed on wood foundations and support beams, exterior walls, furniture, carpets, insulation and other cellulose-containing materials in your home.

Termites rarely come out into the open; instead they move through elaborate mud tunnels or burrow through walls to travel to and from food sources. Because they tend to remain concealed, homeowners often fail to detect the presence of termites until serious and costly damage has already been inflicted. For this reason, it is essential that homeowners contact a termite control specialist to conduct an inspection as soon as possible. Getting a professional termite inspection every year is essential to protecting your home from damage. Catching an infestation early can save a homeowner thousands of dollars in home repair costs. For more termite facts, contact a termite control specialist near you.

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