Eastern Subterranean Termites
- Scientific name: Reticulitermes flavipes
- Size: 1/8th to ½ and inch in size
- Color: Creamy white to grayish (workers), creamy white to grayish with brownish heads and black mandibles (soldier)
- Shape: Workers have soft, rounded heads and soldiers have long, rectangular heads with long mandibles
- Found in: All Eastern states extending as far as Texas.
What are they?
The eastern subterranean termite is the most common termite found in the United States. They are the most significant wood-destroying pest insect in the continental US. This type of termite also has a wider source of what they consider “food” such as books and cotton products. This type of termite has a true caste system. A colony of this type of termite can have from several hundred thousand to over millions soldiers, workers and a small or singular number of reproducing mature termites. This type of termite is responsible for 80% of the budget spent on termite control because of their wide-spread distribution and numbers.
How can you tell you have them?
Because these types of termites live within the wood of a structure, they can go undetected for long periods of time, consuming the wood until it resembles a honeycomb within. This type of termite is found at or near the flooring level, or below, and you can tell if you have a compromised structure be tapping on the wood with a screwdriver or other hard tool. If there is a significant infestation the wood will sound hollow when tapped.
What kind of environment do they like?
These types of termites do not usually infest newer, recently constructed, homes. As with most termite species, these termites prefer wood that has matured to a certain degree. In the wild, these termites feed on fallen branches, old roots, tree stumps and similar materials. This type of termite establishes a below-ground colony but can have tunnels both above and below ground made of soil and fluids. They will have many feeding sites connected to a central colony, reached by these self-made tunnels. They can travel up to 350 feet from their home colony in search of a food source, which may seem like a small distance to a human, but in a suburban setting can be several homes worth of food.
Though these termites are widespread and do cause considerable property damage, they take time to establish a colony’s food course within a certain structure. Requiring access to a building close to the ground, this particular termite species prefers to build it’s colony in moist soils. Unlike drywood termites, this termite needs to get it’s moisture from outside sources other than the wood it consumes.
What to do?
This type of termite is considered a high activity species and in areas of heavy infestation, as many as 80% of the homes will be attacked. If you live in a densely populated area or housing community and a neighbor or neighbors has an infestation of this type of termite, chances are, it is likely that your house will contain them as well.