Common Name: Termite
Scientific Name: Isoptera: spp
Status: A pest of homes and buildings
Damaging Stage: Adult
Biology: Termites are small, white, tan, or black insects. The name Isoptera means "equal wing" and refers to the fact that in the adult stage, all four wings are of the same length. Nymphs resemble smaller termites with external wing buds. They are less than � inch long and white or gray color. With each successive molt, they develop wings, eyes and functional organs. There is typically one generation per year.
Termites are social insects with three castes (reproduc�tives, soldiers, and workers) each with separate functions in the colony. The reproductives are responsible for producing large numbers of offspring. The workers and soldiers are sterile, wingless, and blind. The workers build the nest, forage for food, and care for the young. The soldiers defend the colony from intruders.
Injury: Termites feed in sound, dry wood. Workers eat cellulose-containing materials found in plant products. Tunnels run across the grain of the wood and fecal pellets are expelled from the opening of the entrance hole. Often mud tubes are the first evidence of termite infestation.
Action Threshold: Termite feeding must be eliminated to prevent structural damage to homes and other buildings. Treatments should be applied at first sign of infestation. Termite control costs in the U. S. exceed $2 billion per year. Actual structural damage caused by termites is difficult to estimate but certainly falls into the hundreds of billions of dollars.
Management: Termite infestations can be devastating and should be treated by a professional with proper training and equipment. Great advances have been made in both chemical barrier treatments as well as baits.