Termites act as an integral part of local ecosystems by breaking down dead cellulose material. However, in residential areas, these behaviors can become liabilities. Within the United States, there are approximately 50 active termite species. These species can be further broken down into two major pest categories which cause problems to human structures: subterranean termites and drywood termites. Each type requires a different method of extermination.
Drywood termites inhabit the same wood or other source of cellulose material on which they feed. Drywood termites can live within furniture and in the wood behind walls, creating elaborate systems of tunnels. Drywood termite infestations are oftentimes not recognized until they are widespread and require professional treatment. However, it is possible to identify a drywood termite infestation by loose piles of pellets, known as frass, which appear near where feeding is happening. Drywoods are less cold tolerant and are more commonly found in the southern U.S.
Subterranean termites are far more cold tolerant than drywood termites and, therefore, are more common throughout the United States. These termites build their colonies within loose, damp soil and create elaborate mud tunnels through which they access above-ground food sources. Subterranean termites tend to move within foundation cracks and feed on damp wooden sections of the home. Presence of mud tunnels is a certain sign of current or past infestation.