It is hard to accurately estimate the number of termites currently existing on the planet, but experts claim that there exists 1,000 pounds of termites for every one person on the planet. Considering how much a tiny termite must weigh, this comes out to be a massive number of individual termites. In fact, the total number of individual termites in the world far exceeds the total number of individual ants. So how is it that ants are encountered everywhere outdoors while the vast majority of people have never seen a single termite?
Most people are aware that subterranean termites dwell below the ground, just as their name suggests. Drywood and dampwood termites dwell solely within single items of natural and finished wood sources, with the exception of reproductive termites (alates) that swarm from their enclosed colonies each year. Given their cryptic habitat, termites are one of the most difficult insect pests to detect within infested homes, as well as within the natural environment. Rather than stumbling across individual termites within a home, subterranean termite infestations become apparent when their mud tubes are found along a home’s foundation. Drywood termite infestations are more difficult to notice, as these termites do not leave a mud trail in their wake. Many drywood termite infestations first become apparent after small “exit holes” are found on the surface of wood.
Once a colony of drywood termites become mature enough to produce swarming alates, which can take years, the destructive insects create holes on the surface of lumber in order to allow swarming alates to exit the colony. These swarming alates then fly to a new territory where males and females establish a new colony as king and queen. Exit holes are also used to discard feces that would otherwise collect within the internal wood cavities where colonies are located. Therefore, drywood termite infestations are noticed either by the presence of termite feces that collect on the ground beneath infested wood items or by the presence of exit holes, or both. Unfortunately, these signs are hard to notice, as termite fecal pellets, known as “frass,” are often mistaken for sawdust piles, and termite exit holes are smaller than ⅛ of an inch. Upon closer inspection, however, frass takes the form of hexagonal shapes. Just be sure to where gloves before thoroughly examining any material suspected of being frass.
Have you ever found exit holes in wood or termite frass within your home?