Where Are Termites Found?

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Termites are social insects that closely resemble ants, except for a few subtle differences. They cause billions of dollars worth of damages in homes and property each year in the United States alone. Learn where termites are found, both in terms of geography and where you can actually find them.

Geography

  • Termites can be found on every single continent except for Antarctica. They mostly live in the tropical and temperate zones, as cold weather keeps them away from extreme northern and southern latitudes. Subterranean termites live in every state in the U.S. except for Alaska. Drywood termites are limited to the southern states from Virginia to California. Dampwood termites inhabit coastal California, Oregon, Washington and Florida.

Types

  • The subterranean termite builds nests underground, but can come up from below and into your home to eat wood. In dry regions, like the savannahs of Africa, the subterranean termite will build elaborate mounds to house the colony, which can number in the millions of insects. Drywood and dampwood termites build their homes in wood, with the dampwood termite preferring wood that is moist. Their population per colony can number in the hundreds or the thousands.

Effects

  • The subterranean termites can get into your wooden structures unseen and undetected and cause serious damage by consuming the wood. Dampwood termites don't do as much damage to homes, since they prefer wet conditions but can be a problem if you have leaky faucets or water in your basement. The drywood termite species live in dry wood, often living in attics and within walls.

Benefits

  • All types of termites break down trees that have died and other wood materials in forests, recycling them into the soil. In Africa and Australia, the subterranean termites build their homes above ground in many cases. In the rainy season, they are used by animals to escape from floods and when they are abandoned, they can be used for homes by certain creatures. Erosion of soil is lessened in rainy areas by subterranean termites, who dig thorugh the soil and allow water to soak in. Termites are also used as a food source in some countries.

Considerations

  • Subterranean termites will die if exposed to the open air for any extended period of time. They build tubes that will appear to be made of mud from their nests below ground up to the surface where they forage for food. Not even concrete slab homes are exempt from the subterranean termites advances, as they will find cracks in the cement and make their way in.

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