Eastern Subterranean Termite

Four species of subterranean termites occur in the Kansas City area. They all do the same kind of damage and may be treated in the same manner. Swarming is their way of spreading and reproducing. That usually happens in early Spring, but one species often swarms again in late Summer.

General

The Eastern subterranean termite is the most common and widely distributed of the species in the Kansas City area. Subterranean termites have 3 castes: workers, soldiers, and reproductives, the latter of which become the swarmers. Once mated, the queen will produce only a few eggs the first year. When the queen is mature she will produce about 5,000-10,000 eggs a year. The queen may live for many years and workers may live 1-2 years.

Swarmers are about 3/8" long including wings. The body color is generally dark brown to almost black. Swarming typically occurs during the spring but it may possibly be followed by one or more smaller swarms until winter. Swarming occurs during the daytime, typically during the morning of the day following a warm rain.

Habits

The Eastern subterranean termite is the most common and widely distributed of the species in the Kansas City area. Subterranean termites have 3 castes: workers, soldiers, and reproductives, the latter of which become the swarmers. Once mated, the queen will produce only a few eggs the first year. When the queen is mature she will produce about 5,000-10,000 eggs a year. The queen may live for many years and workers may live 1-2 years. Swarmers are about 3/8" long including wings. The body color is generally dark brown to almost black. Swarming typically occurs during the spring but it may possibly be followed by one or more smaller swarms until winter. Swarming occurs during the daytime, typically during the morning of the day following a warm rain.

Damage

Subterranean termites eat mostly the spring wood and leave the lignin- containing summer wood which they cannot effectively digest. Hence, damaged wood appears to be layered. Also, soil is typically found in the galleries. A typical mature colony may consist of 60,000 to over a million workers. Sixty thousand workers can/may eat 1/5 ounce or 5 grams of wood each day. At this rate, such a colony could completely consume 2 1/3 linear feet of a pine 2"x4" board in 1 year. However, there may be several colonies associated with a single building.

Control

Control involves placing a chemical barrier and/or an in-ground perimeter monitoring-baiting system between the termite colony and the wood of the structure. In addition, all wood-to-soil and rigid foam board/form-to-ground contact should be eliminated (the building owner's responsibility), any wood debris must be removed, and the wood moisture content should be reduced to below 20%. Secondary and aerial colonies are controlled by correcting the moisture problem to dry out the moisture-source area. When it is desirable to rapidly reduce the secondary infestation, this can be done by intergallery injection or surface treatment with a pesticide labeled for these termites. Also available are above-ground termite baiting systems that are placed directly on the termite infested wood.