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Termite habits and their life cycle

July 2nd, 2019

Termite habits and their life cycle

Unwanted visitors? Some insects don’t wait to be invited. The first step in taking care of a termite problem is understanding termite habits and their life cycle.

Know Your Enemy: Termite Habits and Terminology

Insects have some interesting behaviors worth studying. No one wants to learn about them from experience. If you suspect termites are getting up-close-and-personal, here are some termite habits worth noting:

  • Termites need 3 things: moisture from the soil, food from wood, and privacy. These pests can digest cellulose wood fibers; a characteristic that differentiates them from other insects. Their need for privacy means they like to tunnel within your walls.
  • Termite feeding areas are called “galleries.”
  • Termites can build nests above and below the soil, and usually near wooden walls. The nests are called “cartons.”
  • Young termites are called “nymphs.”
  • Like ants, termites have workers and soldiers. Workers gather food for the colony, and soldiers defend the nest.
  • As the termite colony increases, the need for moisture sends them in search of soil as soon as they’ve satisfied their desire for food (floors, walls, roof, etc.). Sometimes termites build moisture- or mud-based “homes” near their entrance.

Termite Life Cycles

Termite life cycles begin with mating, fertilization by king termites, and egg-laying by queen termites to form new colonies. Next, the eggs hatch as white larvae. Then, they develop to become soldiers, workers, or “reproductives” (Produced in mature colonies).

The reproductive cycle includes “swarming.” Usually, swarming occurs in spring and after a rainfall.

Once the nymphs (larvae) reach maturity, the molting process occurs. After that, their protective, harder exoskeletons split, and second-layer exoskeletons harden.

Soldier termites are brown/yellow with larger heads and mandibles. Reproductives are darker brown and have two sets of wings. Worker termites are usually the lightest in color and may resemble larvae.

Here are some of the termite species you’ll find in Arizona:

  • Arid Land Subterranean
  • Desert Subterranean
  • Western Drywood

Of these, Desert Subterranean is most common and has the most destructive termite habits. They form large colonies and feed fast. Desert Subterranean termites eat through wood rapidly and leave a path of destruction.

Close Encounters: Termite Habits

One of the common termite habits is swarming. If you see swarming termites, there’s a good chance they’ve been actively munching wood for 3-5 years. Most homeowners don’t discover termites until they see dead termites or find damaged wood.

3 signs you may have a termite infestation include:

  1. Hollow wood – If you suspect a termite infestation, gently but firmly tap the wall or floor with a screwdriver. You’ll hear the difference between a solid surface and a hollow one. If you tap too hard, the damaged surface may crack or break-through.
  2. Mud tubes – Drinking-straw-sized flat, muddy “tube” along baseboards, behind siding, near plumbing fixtures, floors, or in cracks.
  3. Visual sighting – Swarming termites is an indicator you may have substantial termite damage. Dead termites or termite wings are other visual clues of a termite infestation.

Say Goodbye to Destructive Termites

Termite infestations can be eliminated with a professional termite inspection. Commercial and residential termite extermination estimates are free in this area of Arizona with your local Phoenix Valley termite control and elimination professionals. Budget Brothers Termite and Pest Elimination offers trustworthy pest control. We’ve been in business for over 25 years. Like you, we live here, so our reputation is critical to our success.

Contact Budget Brothers Termite and Pest Elimination to learn more about termite habits that may indicate your property has unwanted pests.

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