Subterranean Termites: Identification, Causes, Prevention & Treatment Cost

Subterranean is the most common kind of termite. It is found throughout the continental United States, so you will have to be on guard pretty much. They’re also generally the kind of termite that does the most damage to a house.

There are several different species, but the common thread is that Subterranean termite lives underground, forming a colony that connects between the dirt and the wood in your house. They get food from the wood in your home and water from the moisture in the soil. If there’s no direct connection between the two, Subterranean termite will often build mud-based tunnels to connect them (a sure sign of an infestation).

Subterranean Termite

You should avoid letting any natural wood source touch your house because that’s a common way a Subterranean termite moves from the soil into your home. Tree branches are a big one (don’t let them touch your roof), vines, or even pipes that touch the ground.

You have to treat Subterranean termites differently from drywood termites. The subterranean termite is often best targeted with bait systems, which stick into the soil and are eaten by termites building out their colony (a lot like the tunnels in an ant’s nest). You can use liquid treatments on a Subterranean termite as well. The advantages of baits vs. liquids are discussed on their respective pages.

What Do They Look Like?

There are three major groups in the termite species:

Subterranean Termites

They are also called ground termites because they live in colonies or groups underground. The primary source of food for Subterranean termites is wood. They can make a tunnel underground with about 150 feet or 45.7 meters. Their source of wood can be your home or any part of it. Subterranean termites mostly found in the U.S., but they are not a lot in numbers during the cold weather or season. Subterranean termites cause Ninety-five percent of termite damage in North America. One single colony of a Subterranean termite has 1 million members, and these members can eat up 6.8 kilograms of wooden materials every week. A Subterranean termite can destroy your home foundation, insulation, plastic pipes, support beams, and more.

Drywood Termites

This termite lives above the ground because they prefer to create their nest inside the wood or trees. They can still live without moisture in their homes but get they need humidity that comes from the air. Most of these termite swarmers can be found in Southern California and the Southeast part of the United States. They live inside wood and eat their food within. You can find their nest in attics, window frames, and door frames. A wood that is infested by a drywood looks fine in the outside but crumbling inside.

Dampwood Termites

Dampwood termites build their homes or colonies mostly in damp and decaying wood. It is where their name came from. They are considered an economic pest or insect on the Pacific coast. But sometimes, they can be found in the desert area of American Southwest and Southern Florida. They are not considered dangerous pests in these areas. This kind of termite is attracted to damp and wood, so if your home has visible moisture or any plumbing problems, it can be affected.

If you want to identify each of these termite colonies, you have to look at the alates and workers soldiers, unmated reproductive caste, and the winged because workers soldier termites across the groups tend to look similar. It’s also vital to see the appearance of the wood they consumed and damaged.

Here are the classification factors for most subterranean termites:

  • Swarmers or alates – Their color is dark-brown to black. They are ¼ to ½ inch long with pairs of wings.
  • Soldiers – They have no wings and have huge mandibles or jaws. They are called the Subterranean termite colony defenders that are creamy-white, and the head is brownish.
  • Workers – They also have no wings with ¼ inch or less long with has a cream body color.
  • Damaged wood appearance – The subterranean termites build their homes or nests underground. Because of this, the damaged wood has accumulated the contact with the soil within the wood tunnels they are eating. Subterranean termites eat softwood only. That’s why the damaged wood seems to be layered. The workers eat the hardwood part. On the other hand, the subterranean termites eat ‘within the grain’ rather than across it.
  • Nest location – As their group specie suggests, the nest or homes of a Subterranean termite is found below or underground. But if there is enough moisture condition, it may be found above, especially if the Subterranean termite colony is already well-established and old.

How Did I Get Subterranean Termites?

If there are flying termites, there is a big possibility of Subterranean termite infestation. They are called alates or swarmers. These flying termites are the females and males that left their home to look for a mate and produce a new colony, and it can be near your house.

There are lots of signs that will tell you of Subterranean termite infestation. It includes discarded wings, mud tubes, swarming, damaged wood, and shelter tubes. If you hear about home inspection, they have a good flashlight with them, and a screwdriver to initially inspect your place with subterranean termites. Treating termites is not that easy, and it needs some suitable devices used for termite control and treatment.

Subterranean termites infestation starts if the heavy rainfall and warm condition trigger a produced colony to send a swarm of winged termites. The swarms may contain winged reproductive males and females. Subterranean termites colonies are active for about 3 – 5 years, just before the winged Subterranean termite reproductive appears.

Subterranean lives beneath the soil and around your homes. They can enter your property through wood that touches every ground. They can construct mud tubes too from the ground itself to any wood materials around. If you have cracks in concrete areas of your walls and hollow blocks foundation, they can quickly infest it in there.

If huge numbers of these insects appear in your house, an insect mating swarm will result in it. If Subterranean creates a swarm, they will call it reproductive flight. It’s a part of the seasonal activity of different insects, including ants and termites too.

How Serious Are Subterranean Termites?

They are considered threats to homeowners because Subterranean termites can cause severe and extensive damages to your property. Their saw-toothed jaws will work like shears and will bite to any of your wood materials at home. Even a single or small colony with 60 thousand worker termites have this ability to feed 5 grams or 1/5 ounce of wood every day.

There are many common workers termites all over the world. Still, subterranean termites can be the cause of billions of dollars’ damage to different structures every year, especially when made of wood. Subterranean termites also eat paper products like books, plant-based goods, and cellulose-based materials.

Other colonies have more than one egg-laying female. And all of them are taken good care of workers. It means that subterranean termite homes or nests can grow easily, consisting of a hundred or thousand members. This kind of nest can infest your property for years, and you won’t easily detect it. So every time you see early signs or warnings of termite infestation, or if you saw possible workers or soldier termites, it would be better to respond to it immediately. The most common sign is the presence of winged alates or swarmers, mud tubes, and if you see damaged wood already.

How Do I Get Rid of Subterranean Termites?

Continuous Treatment

Make sure to get the most reliable and dependable termite control team in the industry. They must have this kind of termite treatment plan that uses scientifically proven treatments suited for home construction type.

Customized Treatment

The best pest control company or team will base their termites treatment on the layout of your property. They will also check the degree of termite or pest infestation so they can make a tailored plan and actions to treat for termites workers. It’s the kind of treatment that Subterranean termites can be controlled using any of the three methods only a pest control company knows. These methods will discourage the termites from attacking your home structures.

Liquid Non-repellent Termiticide Treatment 

There are liquid products you can use to discourage or eliminate termites from attacking your property. These products will also act as a treatment of termites and stop them from producing. But termite swarmers will adjust and survive until 90 days after exposure to these termiticide products. By that time, a termite can share the poison and possibly infect other termite swarmers within their colony. It leads to a declining population of termite and will be able to control their lives for many years.

Bait Systems Plan

There are bait systems that are easily maintain and use. If one termite can feed on the bait, there is a possibility that they will take it back to their colony and kill other termites too. The termite baiting system affects all subterranean termite colonies and leads to the death of the whole termite species.

To apply termiticides, the easiest way to do it is through trenches. It can go around the structure that is infested or use a foaming system into the walls. If you have a structure that consists of cement and slab foundation, it would be better to inject the termiticide beneath the foundation slab.

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