Termites are a group of eusocial insects that were classified at the taxonomic rank of order Isoptera (see taxonomy below), but are now classified either as the infraorder Isoptera, or as epifamiliy Termitoidae within the cockroach order Blattodea. While termites are commonly known, especially in Australia, as “white ants,” they are not closely related to the ants.
Like ants, and some bees and wasps — all of which are placed in the separate order Hymenoptera — termites divide labor among castes, produce overlapping generations and take care of young collectively. Termites mostly feed on dead plant material, generally in the form of wood, leaf litter, soil, or animal dung, and about 10% of the estimated 4,000 species (about 3,106 taxonomically known) are economically significant as pests that can cause serious structural damage to buildings, crops or plantation forests. Termites are major detritivores, particularly in the subtropical and tropical regions, and their recycling of wood and other plant matter is of considerable ecological importance.
Conehead termites are an invasive species native to the Caribbean that was first introduced to the U.S. in 2001. They were originally called “tree termites,” but were renamed conehead termites to alleviate the misconception that this pest is only found in trees.
As the name suggests, dampwood termites infest wood with high moisture content. Dampwood termites are normally larger in size than other termite species.
Drywood termites can be avoided by making sure firewood and scrap wood is stored at least 20 feet from the home. Another drywood termite treatment tactic is to seal all cracks and crevices around the foundation of the home. Homeowners should also routinely inspect the property for signs of drywood termites, paying special attention to window and doorframes, trim, eaves, siding and attics.
Formosan termite control begins with eliminating sources of moisture both inside and outside of the home. Inside, homeowners should reduce humidity in crawl spaces, attics and basements with proper ventilation. Outdoors, divert water away from the home’s foundation to prevent Formosan termite access with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks. Homeowners should also store firewood at least 20 feet away from the home and maintain a one-inch gap between soil and wood portions of the home.
The best method of subterranean termite control is to avoid water accumulation near the foundation of the home. Prevent subterranean termite access by diverting water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks. Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the home, and keep mulch at least 15 inches from the foundation. Indoors, homeowners should reduce humidity through proper ventilation of crawl spaces, attics and basements to avoid attracting subterranean termite swarms.