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Subterranean Termites in Tennessee

The eastern subterranean termite is the most common subterranean termite in North America and can be found on many other continents. This particular termite species is the most destructive wood-destroying insect in the United States—responsible for the more than $2 billion spent annually for control and damage repairs. Eastern subterranean termites have a high moisture requirement for survival. Thus, these pests must live in protected ground nests and build shelter tubes (hence being “subterranean,” meaning “underground”) to food sources to maintain moisture and humidity. 

If you so much as suspect you have a termite presence on your property, don’t delay: Reach out to U.S. Pest Protection today to schedule your subterranean termite inspection

How to Identify Subterranean Termites 

Physical characteristics of subterranean termites include:

  • Anywhere from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch long
  • Soft bodies 
  • Creamy white in color
  • Flying termites (alates/swarmers) are dark in color with whitish wings 
  • Soldiers have large mandibles 

How Do I Know I Have Subterranean Termites? 

The most noticeable sign of a subterranean termite infestation is destruction to structural wood such as wall studs, baseboards, and floor joists. Termites will usually eat with the grain of the wood. However, damage may not always be seen if obscured by paint or wall coverings.

In addition, you might notice subterranean termites’ shelter tubes. These tubes may be made up of dirt and cellulose material to protect the termites as they feed and forage for more wood.

Finally, you might see flying termites (swarmers or alates) in the spring, which can suggest that you have a mature colony somewhere that is sending out reproductives to start a new colony. These swarmers will flutter and appear to not fly very well.

Subterranean Termite Behavior, Environment, and Reproduction 

Subterranean termites live in a social colony where different members, or “castes,” perform different tasks. They are not related to ants at all. Female subterranean termites, along with secondary reproductives, can lay more than 1,000 eggs per day. Queens of the subterranean termite species can live for more than 10 years. Depending on the species, subterranean termite colonies can range in size anywhere from 20,000 to 5 million termites!

The Worker Caste

Making up a majority of the colony, the worker caste eats the wood and performs all the labor. Labor entails feeding and grooming the other caste members, including the queen and soldiers. Aside from laboring for the colony, other tasks might include foraging for wood food, repairing and constructing shelter tubes, and caring for eggs and young. This species works 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Soldier Caste 

Subterranean termite soldiers defend the colony from enemies, such as ant invasions. They are larger than the workers and possess large heads and strong mandibles used to crush ants in battle. Some species have a structure on their head that secretes a chemical compound to ward off invading ants. Soldiers do not eat wood and must be fed by the workers.

The Reproductive Caste 

This caste is made up of the mating king and queen termites. Mating kings and queens establish the colony and begin the egg-laying and growth process. When the colony becomes large enough, “secondary reproductives” are created, which also contribute to the egg-laying process. Subterranean reproductive castes and secondary reproductive members do not feed on the wood; instead, they must be fed and groomed by the workers. 

Once a subterranean termite colony is strongly established, it will develop winged reproductives called “alates” that are both male and female. Alates will then fly out of the colony, usually in the spring. These flying “swarmers” attempt to mate and start a new colony in the soil at another location. Alates are actually beneficial to the environment, helping break down dead cellulose material (wood) in the environment to basic organic material.

Unfortunately, many of these termites can’t distinguish between the wood in your home and a log in the forest. That’s why their job may become feeding on your structural wood. As a result, all these types of termites digest cellulose utilizing microorganisms and bacteria in their guts. Like all insects, they then molt (shed their exoskeleton) to grow.

How to Prevent Subterranean Termites

Proper control measures for subterranean termites should be implemented by trained pest control professionals. Thankfully, U.S. Pest Protection’s team of termite experts has developed strategies to keep your residence and property termite-free

As opposed to less-effective baiting methods that attract termites before killing them, we perform liquid termite control applications using the best products in the industry. Liquid barrier treatments are often the only option for true, comprehensive protection against these destructive pests.

Subterranean Termite Control and Elimination in Tennessee 

Subterranean termites are no joke, and infestations can run deep—literally. As soon as you notice termites or damage they’ve left behind, there’s no time to wait. Schedule pest control services online at your convenience. 

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