Do Termites Leave Tracks?

Termites leave tracks in the wood they consume but these tracks may not be what you would expect. You will not see either footprints from termites in the wood, or pheromone-marked trails that lead from the termite nest to the food source. With a close inspection, your termite expert may see termite tracks (patterns of wood consumption) in wood in and around your home. Your pest professional may be able to use the location of termite tracks as a guide to determine possible termite paths or entry points into your home.

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites nest in the soil, typically as far as 18 inches below the surface. However, they build above ground mud tubes directly to their food source – wood. Once they have found a ready food source, they will begin to break down the cellulose in the wood according to a set pattern. This identifiable pattern is the termite track.

Subterranean termites focus on the softer springwood along the grain, which is digested more easily than the harder summerwood. This behavior creates damaged wood with a honeycombed appearance, where the inside of the wood rings is removed but the outer, darker ring remains. As subterranean termites often carry soil with them to provide moisture, you may see mud in between the wood grains.

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites live wholly within their food source. They excavate large rooms in the wood, called galleries, and connect them via tunnels. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites eat along and across the harder grain of the wood. As they digest the wood, drywood termites create clean galleries where the cellulose has been removed completely. Mounds of fecal pellets, called frass, build up inside these galleries as the frass is pushed aside to make room for workers to continue consuming the wood.

Resources

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