Types of Termites

Subterranean termites live in colonies in the soil. They require moisture from the soil to survive, and can tunnel hundreds of feet to reach feeding sites. To reach food above ground, they build mud tubes to protect them from exposure to light, air and enemies.

Found coast to coast throughout the southern regions of the U.S., Drywood termites live inside dry wood. Their colonies can be dispersed within your home and can spread, infesting more than one area.

Formosan termites are a more aggressive species of Subterranean termites that can establish secondary nests above ground.

Identify termite risk areas


Run-off moisture, drainage
Condensation under home

Wood house framing, debris in crawl space
Landscape timbers, mulch, stumps

Controlled home temperatures create favorable conditions for termites year-round

Access: Tiny cracks throughout your home
Concrete slabs or basement foundations
Around utility pipes
Veneers: stucco, brick, wood

Termite Inspection Resources

Preventing Termite Infestations

Since termites are most active in the soil, the basement is often the place termites infest. When we build homes with basements, we keep them warm in the wintertime.

This means termites entering a basement below the frostline can remain active and continue feeding even when the weather is very cold outside. The only basement impervious to termites is one completely sealed and that has no cracks in it.

Eliminate Conducive Conditions

Like other animals, termites need food and water to survive and thrive. Subterranean termites are most plentiful in natural woodlands where there is an abundant supply of both.

Eliminate wood to ground contact: about 90 percent of structural termite infestations can be traced to wood that is in contact with the soil.

Remove wood debris: All wood or cellulose material left on or below the soil surface provides a convenient source of food for termites.

Remove vegetation and mulch: Shrubs, vines, trellises and other dense vegetation should be removed from the side and foundation of the house

Eliminate moisture problems: Termites are more likely to infest a structure if the soil around it is constantly moist. Make sure water drains away from the building.

Termite Resistant Materials

Pressure treated lumber: One way to prevent termite damage is to use pressure-treated wood whenever wood comes within six to twelve inches of the soil.

Creosote: Creosote-treated wood should be resistant to insect feeding and decay although railroad ties may house carpenter ant colonies because carpenter ants do not feed on the wood, but tunnel into it to build a colony. It was the first developed and is still used for railroad ties, highway bridges and marine structures like docks and sea walls.

Chromated copper arsenate (CCA): CCA pressure-treated wood has a greenish cast and is highly resistant to termite infestation and decay.

Alcaline cooper quaternary (ACQ): It is a mix of copper and a quaternary ammonium compound, nicknamed quat. The copper-quats work together to protect the lumber from a wide range of rot and decay.

Cooper boron azole (CBA): CBA is a copper based preservative with an organic fungicide.

Borates: Borates are effective at protecting wood from decay under the right circumstances

Other Options:

Resistant woods: Naturally resistant woods include redwood, cypress and cedar. These woods are somewhat resistant to termites, although they are not as resistant as treated lumber.

Plastic and composite materials: There are two types of lumber products made from recycled plastic. One is 100% plastic. The other type is a composite material made from recycled plastic and waste wood fiber, like sawdust.

Termite shields: Metal termite shields are more common in the southern U.S. where there is a higher likelihood of termite infestation.

Sand (or crushed stone) barriers: researchers discovered that subterranean termites were unable to tunnel through sand of a specific particle size.

Stainless steel mesh: stainless-steel wire mesh has shown it is extremely effective, even in very high termite areas.

Steel studs: Steel studs used during new construction or remodeling can help reduce the risk of termite infestation.

Concrete home: One of the latest trends in new home construction is the use of concrete.

by University of Nebraska, Department of Entomology

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