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Understanding Why Termites Are Difficult To Detect

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If you live in the southwestern or southern part of the United States, then there may be large amount of termites living in your area. In many warm areas of the country, there may be as many as four different termite species lurking near your home. While termites may be abundant, they might be difficult to spot. Keep reading to understand why termites are difficult to notice and why it is best to speak with a professional pest control specialist if you ever think that termites may be infesting your home.

They Eat Through The Middle Of Wood

Termites do not specifically seek out wood. They instead search for and consume cellulose. Cellulose is an insoluble organic substance that makes up plant walls. Wood has an abundance of cellulose in long chains, and this is what gives wood its strength. These long chains are also what attract termites to wood. Termites eat dead cellulose material, and this is why you do not see the insects invading and killing the live trees in your neighborhood. 

When the termites find a food source, like the wood planks that make up the side of your home, they will do one of two things. Some termites will burrow through the earth to create a tunnel to the wood. The insects will then chew through the middle of a wood plank and eat the cellulose from the inside out. The insects will then travel back to their nest that lies under the earth. This helps to keep the termites hidden. Some termites will actually build their colonies within the wood. They will create one or several small colony openings. Once inside the wood, the inside cellulose is consumed to create the colony where the termites live. The termites will then branch out from the colony eating cellulose that is close by.

This means that you may see a little sawdust, some mud tunnels, or a few holes in the wood material. However, these signs of a termite infestation can easily be missed by an untrained professional.

Termites Eat Fairly Slow

Some termite colonies are extremely large, and the biggest ones will have 15,000,000 termites in a single colony. This type of colony is one that has been established for many years and will likely remain for many more years. These bigger colonies can consume a pound of wood a day. If you have a large colony in your home, then it will be apparent as your house loses its structural integrity. 

However, if your home contains smaller colonies that are just becoming established, then there will not be nearly as many termites eating wood. For example, drywood termites will form smaller colonies with a few hundred insects, and the colonies will build quite slowly over time. Unfortunately, a single home can contain several small colonies. This means that your home may be used as a food source for several years with termites slowly eating away at different areas of your home. One of the only indications that you will have that a colony has started is the appearance of small wings on the ground near the colony site. These wings will be ones that have fallen off from the swarming termites after they have become sexually mature. The wings may form a small pile near the colony site, but they will degrade or blow away from the area fairly quickly. 

Termites can be extremely difficult for the average homeowner to detect. The insects burrow into the middle of wood and they also eat cellulose slowly over the course of years. This is why it is wise to schedule regular termite inspections with a local pest control company, such as E & R Exterminating Company, Inc., on a regular basis. This way, infestations can be found and dealt with quickly before substantial home damage can occur.