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Learn About Subterranean Termites (And How To Get Rid of Them)

Camille Landry posted this on Feb 20, 2017

It is practically every adults dream to someday own a home of their own and once the dream is realized, it’s no surprise to what lengths a person may go to protect it. Whether you’re protecting it from intruders and burglars by installing a security system or building a fence, you do whatever you can to protect perhaps your life’s biggest and most precious investment. However, while those security cameras monitor threats from outdoors, there may already be an intruder inside your home that is chomping away at your most prized possession, perhaps without you even knowing it. That silent assassin is the wood-loving termite, which among the most common to households is the subterranean termite.


Subterranean termites are one of the main culprits in the termite family which lays destruction upon the wooden structure of homes, causing billions of dollars of damage on a yearly basis. Termites target any form of wood and they do so silently, often going undetected until it’s too late and there’s a need for expensive home repairs. It’s the responsibility of every homeowner to know this enemy which could potentially be a threat to your home as the infestations they create can become an overwhelming amount. In this article, we will share with you important info about the subterranean termite and how you can eradicate an existing colony from your home using our products and learning our DIY techniques.


Subterranean Termite Facts

Subterranean termites are from the Isoptera insect order and have been around for millions of years. These insects may resemble ants sometimes but while they do share certain traits and even behaviors of ants such as being social insects and forming colonies, their main difference is that termites primarily get their nourishment from cellulose, which is a main ingredient that makes up wood.


The subterranean termite comes in three different forms. The first form are known as reproductives or swarmers, the second are workers and the third are known as soldiers. These three types of subterranean termites or castes each have distinct characteristics and roles in the makeup of their colony.


  • The Reproductives can either be a queen termite, king or an alate. Their primary function is to produce the termites to make up the colony. This caste of subterranean termite is distinguished by the fact that they are winged. The reproductives only leave the colony to swarm, or mate to establish new colonies.

  • Worker termites are the ones who create the most damage to homes and buildings by eating wood and creating tunnels. They are the providers of food for the entire colony and also help maintain the colony and its nest. The worker colonies make the the majority of the colony and are the largest in number in the colony compared to the other two castes.

  • Soldier termites hold the responsibility of protecting the colony. They have enlarged jaws known as mandibles which they use to defend the colony from intruders. The look similar to worker termites except with larger heads and the mandibles they contain. They are the smallest of the termite colony population, making up only 1 to 3 percent.

The species of subterranean termites known as the Formosan termite are known as “supertermites” due to their aggressive behavior and the massive colonies they have the ability to create. They live in colonies containing between 1 to 10 million termites and can surprisingly consume up to 13 oz of wood a day, making them the most destructive of subterranean termites found in the U.S. Formosan termites are primarily restricted to the southern parts of the U.S and the gulf coast regions due to the fact that they require temperatures to be above 68 degrees for survival.

Keys for Subterranean Termite Survival


Subterranean termites need moisture to survive as they easily become dehydrated and die. This is why they primarily live in moist soils underground. However, they can live above ground if they find a source of moisture in an unexposed place. In addition to moisture, subterranean termites also need cellulose for survival. This is why they feed on wood, paper and other cellulose containing products.


In order to protect themselves while feeding or searching for food, subterranean termites create mud tubes which allow them to travel from food source to food source without being exposed to the elements. These tubes are created by the worker termites with a combination of saliva, soil, wood and other debris.


Signs You Have A Subterranean Termite Infestation


A subterranean termite infestation can be very easy to detect or difficult depending on the phase of the infestation. One way of finding out if you have a sizable infestation is finding swarmers indoors. These winged termites would indicate a serious infestation nearby.  Some other signs include finding discarded wings, mud tubes in foundational areas of the home or crumbled or damaged wood in your home. It is possible to conduct your own thorough inspection with a good flashlight, a screwdriver and a sharp pair of eyes to scan your home for these signs.


Subterranean Termite Treatment and Prevention


Like was stated earlier, since subterranean termites need moisture for survival, they most likely are found mainly in the ground and they travel into homes from the ground into your house usually from underneath. Outdoors subterranean termites are found around trees, plants, firewood, scrap lumber or mulch. Indoors, subterranean termites can be found entering structures around plumbing, cracks, and other openings. Any wood that is in direct contact with the soil is also a prime target for subterranean termites.


For that reason the best way of treating subterranean termites is to dig a trench around the home and place the treatment in the trench to act as a barrier. Using a non-repellent termiticide such as Taurus SC does a great job of killing termites. Non-repellent products go undetected by termites as a secret killer that they walk through freely and carry back down to their colonies, wiping out the queen and the entire colony. A great thing about the termiticides we carry at Solutions Pest and Lawn is that they have stay effective for a long-time, between 5 to 10 years.


Step 1: Dig the Trench

Using a shovel or a pick ax, dig a trench against the foundation home. The trench should be about 6 inches wide and 6 inches deep.


Step 2: Mix and Pour the Termiticide

Mix your selected termiticide according to the instructions on the label, preferably in a 4 gallon bucket. A 4 gallon bucket of termiticide solution should cover about 10 lineal feet along the house, making sure to evenly distribute it. Repeat this step until you fill the trench totally around your home.


Step 3: Cover the Trench

Take the soil that was dug up and fill the trench back up. We would recommend that before you put the soil back on that you make sure to treat the soil with the same termiticide. This can be done by using hand pump sprayer to spray the termiticide and then shoveling it immediately back onto the treated trench.


Additionally or alternatively depending on your preference, treat the wood around your home with a termiticide like Boracare. This solution is able to seep into wood and will prevent termites from infesting wood long-term.


Termite Control: You Can Do It Yourself!

Hiring a professional termite exterminator to inspect and treat your home can range anywhere from $800 to upwards of $1500 dollars. What surprises most people is that these exterminators use the termiticides that we carry here at Solutions which is available to the public. Most of the costs of a professional termite treatment is in the labor. If you are willing to do the labor yourself, by merely purchasing our professional-grade termite control products, it’ll only cost you a couple hundred dollars saving you a bundle in labor costs to a professional.


Following the treatment steps laid out above, you can conveniently and easily pull off a professional-quality termite treatment yourself!

Categories: Termites
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