What Are Termites?
Termites are small, pale soft-bodied insects that live in large colonies with several different castes, typically within a mound of cemented earth. Many kinds feed on wood and can be highly destructive to trees and timber. Termites are active across the state, from Memphis to Nashville to Chattanooga to Knoxville. Subterranean termites are known to damage homes in Tennessee. Termites are drawn to moisture. Wet wood, soil, and mulch are ideal habitats for these insects. Fortunately, drywood termites are not native to Tennessee.
Termites Are Destructive
A subterranean termite is only about ⅛ of an inch long. That’s not very big. But your home won’t be attacked by one little termite. There can be hundreds of thousands of termites in a single Eastern subterranean termite colony, and your home could be attacked by more than one termite colony at a time. That’s a lot of mouths to feed! Over time, these wood-eating insects can do a lot of damage to a property. When subterranean termite damage a home, over time it can cause structural supports to weaken, floors to sink, walls to bulge, and ceiling to dip.
Termites Are Sneaky
Subterranean termite workers have a strong aversion to light. This, along with their need to stay hydrated, keeps worker termites from coming out in the open where you can see them. If they’re able to access your home at a point where there is wood-to-soil contact, they can go in and out of your home without ever revealing themselves.
Warning Signs Are Often Hidden
There are several warning signs termites can give you, but these signs are most often hidden from view. Here are some examples: Worker termites may create shelter tubes on foundation walls to go from the soil to the wood of your home. These tubes can be an obvious sign that your home is infested. Unfortunately, worker termites prefer to create shelter tubes in dark, damp, and secluded places. These places can be difficult to inspect. When a nest produces swarmers, these can be an obvious sign of a termite infestation. But we wouldn’t recommend waiting until you see swarmers. A nest doesn’t start producing swarmers for years. That means, a termite colony can be feeding on your home for years before you see swarmers. You also need to be aware that swarms don’t last for more than about thirty minutes and that they only happen in the spring. A swarm can exit a nest and move out of your yard in a matter of minutes. Termites cause damage to wood but most of the damage they do is on the inside of the wood they’re feeding on. In rare cases, they’ll damage wood on the outside, where you can see it. Unfortunately, exterior wood damage is usually done in dark, damp locations, making it difficult to detect.