Table of Contents
What Is A Termite?
Everyone has heard of a termite at one time or another. Maybe you’ve heard about a friend with an infestation. Perhaps, you’ve heard of a co-worker being hit with thousands of dollars of damage because of termites. Whatever the situation, there is no denying that most people know termites are destructive critters. However, that statement cannot be truly valued until you suffer from an infestation yourself. If you are here, that’s exactly what you are going through. Here’s what you need to know about the critter:
- The termite is a very social and cooperative creature. They are constantly working together to provide food, water, and shelter to the colony. It’s all about the growth and betterment of the colony for these guys.
- Termites are known for feeding on wood, but it’s the cellulose in the wood they are attracted to.
- Cellulose can be found in a wide range of other products, including lumber, cotton fibers, paper, cardboard, and furniture items.
- If you see termite mounds it means that the initial or primary colonies underground have gotten so big that some members have moved on to start additional or secondary colonies. Termites also build mud tubes as a means of gaining access to wood material.
- While there are a variety of termite species throughout the United States and Baltimore, it is the Subterranean termite that is most common in Baltimore. They are the ones responsible for about 95% of the estimated $2 billion damage that termites reportedly do every year.
Understanding The Pecking Order
Each termite colony is developed of a variety of members. Each member belongs to what is known as a caste. Each caste has very specific jobs. While each member has different jobs, each job or task is imperative to the betterment and development of the colony. To better understand the termite colonies, you need to understand the members and what their jobs are. Here’s what you need to know about termite castes.
The Queen (Primary Reproductive)
- The Queen is without a doubt the largest member of the colony. She is pretty much the one the rest of the members live to serve. She is the largest member, measuring at right around 4 inches long. She is so big that if she needs to be moved, it usually takes hundreds of members to adhere to the task.
- The Queen is the one that creates the colony, as she lays eggs until there are enough workers and nymphs.
- The Queen can live for more than ten years and lay up 30,000 eggs in a single day. Pretty amazing when you think about it.
The King (Primary Reproductive)
- The King is responsible for assisting the Queen just like the other members. However, he will work side-by-side with the Queen, whereas most members just work to serve her. Of course, this is only during the initial formation of the colony.
- The King will continue to mate throughout his life to help increase and grow the size of the colony.
- These guys are soft-bodied, light-colored, and do not have wings. They can grow to be about 10 millimeters in length. (Think about the size of a grain of rice)
- The workers are true workhorses of the colony, as they work 24/7 rarely leaving the tunnels of the colony.
- These guys are solely responsible for caring for the eggs, constructing and maintaining tunnels, foraging for food, feeding members, and grooming members.
- The soldier might be white, soft-bodied, and wingless, but they are anything from soft.
- They have longer heads than most with two extremely powerful jaws that are oftentimes used as a weapon against invading predators.
- These guys are entirely responsible for defending the colony. Believe it or not, the biggest threat to a termite colony is the ant.
- Winged reproductive members can be both male and female. They both are responsible for producing offspring for the growth of the colony.
- These guys develop wings and eventually leave the parent colony in a swarm to mate and start new colonies.
- While there are only 1 King and 1 Queen in each colony, there will be hundreds to thousands of winged reproductive members.
What Types Of Termites Are In Baltimore, MD
As you learned earlier, there are tons of different species of termites. However, there are only one primary species that you’ll likely deal with in Baltimore. This would be the Subterranean termite. This species can and its characteristics are dependent on the termite’s role in the colony. For instance, the worker Subterranean can grow to be 1/8 to 3/8 inches. The soldier Subterranean termites are similar in length but are more identifiable because of their powerful mandibles and large brown heads. The reproductive members of this species can grow to be ½ inch long and are responsible for contributing to the growth of the colony’s members. The workers do the tunneling, tending, and feeding while the soldiers fend off oncoming threats.
Most Subterranean termites like to live underground whenever possible, but there are times when they’ll live in mud tubes. These tubes are usually constructed on the outside of wooden structures to allow access to the structure. Just like other termite species, these members like to feed on products containing cellulose. With their hard, saw-toothed jaws, the Subterranean termites are without a doubt the most destructive species. While they are extremely small and bit off small pieces of wood at one time, they can cause severe property damage.
Know The Differences Between The Flying Ant And The Flying Termite
In Baltimore, flying ants are commonly mistaken for flying termites. However, they are nothing alike and learning to spot the differences could save your property. Here’s what you need to know to help you distinguish between the two:
- Both have front and back wings, but the flying ant has front wings that are longer than the back. With the flying termite, the front and back wings are similar in length and size.
- The flying ant’s wings can easily be broken off, whereas it will be much harder to break the termite’s wings off.
- The waist of the flying ant is narrow and defined, whereas the termites are much larger and nowhere as near defined.
- The flying ant has an antenna that is elbowed at a 90-degree angle. The flying termite’s antenna is straight.
- Termite colonies eat 24/7, 24 hours a day. There is no stopping for these guys.
- Termite colonies can last for many generations of worker termites. Worker termites can live as long as 50 to 70 years.
- In the US alone, an average colony can contain about 500,000 insects.
- Many would say that termites provide a valuable service to the environment by breaking down dead wood in forests. They turn it into reusable soil.
- Subterranean need constant access to water or they will die.
- The ant is the main predator for the ant, and they usually attack when on the food search.
- It is possible to eliminate termites from the property.
- Most termite species live in tropical and subtropical parts of the world.
- Most of these termite species are located in the southeast.
- Three are no Subterranean termites found in Alaska.
- Termites can chew and gnaw through concrete if they choose to do so.
- Only the worker termite is the member of the colony that can chew and digest wood, meaning they are responsible for feeding the other members of the colony.
- The Queen only lives for 20 years but can lay thousands of eggs in a day.
Are Termites Dangerous?
Termites don’t pose any immediate physical threat to humans or pets. They don’t bite, they don’t sting, and they don’t transmit diseases. However, that does not mean they can’t be potentially dangerous. They can damage a wooden structure to the point where it is ready to fall down and then when you walk in it collapses. Columns and beams usually contain cellulose and these critters will go after that material. They’ll chew on it until deterred, which means it could reach the point where they cause a total collapse.
How To Eliminate Termites
Termites are surprisingly fragile creatures that can easily be overpowered by other weaker insects, but they are still extremely difficult to remove a piece of property. It is also possible to entirely remove them from a piece of property, but this does not mean it’ll be easy at all. Part of this is because they live 300 feet away from the property. Locating and shutting down the pathways to the property can be difficult. It only takes missing one of these critters and the pathway into the property and they’ll live on to fight another day. If the whole colony is not destroyed, termites will return.
Can I Eliminate Termites Myself?
As you can see, termites are complex creatures with a complex colony system. Unfortunately, this makes DIY treatments all the more difficult. There is a whole slew of over-the-counter chemicals available for termite eradication, but these products aren’t as effective. This is because they don’t contain all the essential ingredients. Most of the ingredients needed to successfully kill termites are illegal to the general popular. This is just something you’ll want to keep in mind when choosing a pest management professional in Baltimore.
When Will You Get Here?
Our techs stay pretty busy all year round in Baltimore, but we are more than willing to make exceptions for our customers. This is likely one of the things that keep us so busy. Regardless, all you have to do is give us a call and we’ll be out on the property within the next 24 to 48 hours. We do, however, have emergency services available if and when they are needed. All you have to do is pick up the phone and give us a ring! Call today for service tomorrow!