Wood Termites: Termite Prevention, Mitigation, and Control

Wood Termites: Termite Prevention, Mitigation, and Control

We all have wood furniture in our house, and It’s common to observe termites eating wood.

Termites are tiny insects that eat wood and can destroy furniture, wooden structures, and homes.

In nature, Termites are the scavengers that feed and digest wood, paper, and cellulose-containing material. This digestion is a natural process through which the nutrients return to the soil.

However, When termites attack buildings, there is a possibility that they can cause severe structural damage.

Only in the USA are termites causing billions of dollars worth of damage every year. The highest concentration of drywood termites is present in Gulf Coast, while termites are found throughout Texas.

Wood Termites

Types of Wood Termites:

Termites are silent destroyers because of their ability to digest through wood, wallpaper, and flooring.

From the south to north, as the temperature of the ground warm-up, the termite’s population emerges to search for new structures and habits to destroy.

They send their explorers, called swarmers, to search for new hospitable habitats such as homes that can sustain damage during winter and snow.

As Swarmers have a similar appearance to winged or flying ants, most homeowners consider them simple ants – a big mistake.

To avoid your wooden structures and furniture from termite attack, you must be familiar with different types of termites as a house owner. There are three common types:

  • Subterranean Termites
  • Drywood
  • Dampwood

All these species have different biology and behavior related to what part of the country they live in and where they build their nests to damage homes. So let’s explain a little about these types.

Subterranean Termites:

These termites live in soil and are the giant nest of any type in the U.S. These Subterranean Termites are connected through mud tubes to trees, structural timbers, and fence posts in houses.

These termites are responsible for the majority of wooden structure damage in the country. They are in every state of the U.S. except Alaska. Their subtypes are;

  • Arid-Land Subterranean
  • Desert Subterranean
  • Formosan
  • Eastern Subterranean
  • Dark Southeastern Subterranean
  • Western Subterranean

Drywood Termites:

These termites live in dead trees, hardwood floors, and structural timbers. Unlike subterranean termites, these drywood termites don’t contact the soil.


Their colonies are smaller than subterranean termites, still causing significant damage to homes. However, they cause slow damage than subterranean termites. Their subtypes are;

  • Western Drywood
  • Southeastern Drywood
  • Desert Drywood

Dampwood Termites:

These termites live in high moisture wood structures. Mostly they don’t have contact with the soil and are rarely found in man-made structures like home and wood structures since there isn’t enough moisture there. Their subtypes are;

  • Desert Dampwood
  • Florida Dampwood
  • Nevada Dampwood
  • Pacific Dampwood

How Do Wood Termites Look Like?

As discussed above, the three types of wood termites are familiar with their aesthetic look and body structure, so you shouldn’t get confused if they are wood termites or ants.

When swarmers come into the home, most homeowners get confused between termites and ants. So they don’t focus on termites until these tiny insects cause heave damage.

Termite species differ in inhabit, food, size, color, body characteristics, and even their lifecycle. However, to identify termites, some general characteristics can help to identify them.

How Do Wood Termites Look Like

Termites are different from ants. If you’re confused as to how to distinguish between swarming termites and flying ants, here are the main difference between both of them so you can identify termites quickly:

  • Termites shed their wings while flying ants don’t.
  • Termites have straight antennas, while ants have a bent antenna
  • The waist of termites is straightforward, while ants have pinched waist.
  • All four wings of termites have the same length, while ants have wings of different lengths.

So if a homeowner finds any wing in his house, It’s a bad sign, and he should quickly start detecting the presence of termites. It’s a clear sign that termites have started building a nest somewhere in your wooden structure.

Even if you know these differences, there is still a possibility that you won’t identify termites as these are tiny insects. So it’s a better strategy to ask for the help of some specialized pest control company.

Difference between Wood Mites vs. Termites:

There isn’t a vast difference between wood mates and termites because both feed on wood. The only difference is that termites feed on dry wood while wood mites feed on decaying or rotting wood.

But somehow, wood mites and termites have significant differences in terms of their appearance. Both can be differentiated on these features:

  • Size:

Wood mites are tiny insects, around 0.5 mm. While termites are significantly large creatures, measuring 5 mm. Even the larva of termite measure 2.5 mm, i.e., they are more significant than wood mites.

  • Color:

Wood mites are translucent, white, tan, or red, while adult termites are brown, beige, and dark brown. However, termite larva and wood mites are both translucent white and can be confused.

Wood mites only feed on rotting or decaying organic matter while don’t cause any damage to structures. On the other hand, Termites cause direct damage to wooden structures and houses.

  • Wings:

Wood mites lack wing pads while termites have wings. But termite larvae and wood mites look similar as both don’t have wings.

What Attracts Termites to Your House?

Identifying the causes of what attracts termites to your house is the first step in preventing them from entering your house. You might be creating an environment in your home to call termites.

You must understand the factors causing termites to enter your house only after you can act accordingly to remove their habitats.

  1. Moisture:

Moisture is the main reason termites are attracted to your house. It creates an ideal condition for termite attack. Make sure to keep your yard dry by sealing water leaks, regularly clean gutters, and repair A.C. leakage.

Dehumidifiers can help you keep your house dry from the inside, thus preventing an environment that attracts termites.

  1. What Termites don’t you like?

While building a new house, some wood is less likely to attract them, i.e., pressure-treated wood embedded with preservatives makes it resistant to fungi and rot that are termite attractants.

Composites materials are also hard to digest by termites. So a combination of wood and plastic can save your structure from termite attacks.

  1. Firewood & Mulch:

If your house is surrounded by firewood & Mulch, your home is more exposed to termite attach and providing an entry point inside your house.

Suppose you want to store firewood, place woodpiles 30 feet away from your home. Mulch contains moisture that can attract termites to your house.

Termite Prevention, Mitigation, and Control:

We have above discussed the possible causes that attract termites to your home. Next, let’s talk about the mitigation and control of termites because they can significantly damage your wooden structure.

  • Identify the possible source of wood mite infestation:

Identifying the start of the wood termites infestation will help you prevent their shelter and food source.

First of all, identify their food source and find the place where they are hiding. To see where wood mites are hiding, inspect your home to find excess moisture, rotting wood, mold, dying plants, or other rotting organic material.

Carefully inspect cabinets, pantry, walls, shelves, floorboards, laundry rooms, or attics to find their location for further steps.

  • Removing of Clutter and Cleaning:

Clean or remove any clutter as it’s the first step to get rid of termites. Eliminating clutter will help you to get rid of wood mites quickly.

If you find a lot of clutters, determining the source of wood mites will become problematic.

Wood mites mainly feed on cellulose. Therefore, there is a strong possibility that wood mites are hiding in boxes, papers, or other potential cellulose sources.

So make sure that there is no excess paper or cardboard in the moisturized environment. Instead, use air-tight containers as it will prevent wood mites from feeding on other sources of cellulose.

  • Eliminate Mold:

Mold is also a food source for wood mites and mold mites. Mold is a sign of excess moisture and water damage. This potentially leads to rotting wood. This can be the ideal location for wood mites.

You can remove surface mold around your home with these two techniques:

Bleach and water: 2 Cups of Bleach for one Gallon of water

Vinegar and Water: 4 Cups of vinegar in every Gallon of water

Spray the surface with this mixture with a pressurized sprayer. After few minutes, wipe out the surface with clothing to remove the mold.

Termite Prevention, Mitigation, and Control

  • Apply the Insecticides:

Most probably, wood mites enter the home from outdoors. Therefore, the best way to prevent wood mites from entering the house is by using miticides.

List down the potential areas through which mites enter the house. These could e the surface of structures, flowers, grass, and trees.

It’s better to use liquid miticide as a practical application. You can easily spray miticides using a pressurized sprayer.

All the mites and their inside eggs will die up for three to five months after the first application of miticide spray.

Remember that miticides you buy from markets are only effective for wood mites and can’t kill cockroaches and other insects.

But still, if you want your pesticide to work on wood mites and other insects, you should use a broad-based insecticide that will work on all types of insects.

Apart from the fact that these pesticides are effective on many insects, they are too powerful to use on trees, gardens, and flowers.

  • Use Predatory Mites:

Predatory mites are another powerful way to eliminate mites. They are effective outdoors. For example, if you observe that wood mites enter your home from firewood, old furniture, or garden, you can apply predatory mites to these areas.

Predatory mites are available online in many stores. These predatory mites can attach any wood mites, dust mites, and spider mites.

Predatory mites are also effective because they will consume other species of mites but won’t damage or harm your wooden structure or building.

They will eventually die off after eating other mite species. But make sure not to apply predatory mites inside your home. You can use them outdoor where you see mites coming from.

Final Thoughts

Termites cause millions of dollars of structural damage every year. In addition, people lost their wooden structures, buildings, and furniture because of termites.

It certainly looks dangerous by looking at them as a tiny termite can’t damage much, but when their colonies start eating wood, these “silent destroyers” can break every strong structure.

If you’re living in a state where termites attach is very common, it’s essential to inspect your home regularly so that you can find them before they start damaging your home.

Catching termites can save you home repair.  Have you found termites infestation in your home? Call local pest Control Company.

Of course, preventing a termite infestation is better than dealing with them once they enter the home and start damaging the wooden structure.

Are Questions Disturbing You? We Have Answers.

Q. Can wood termites harm humans?

Ans. Termites don’t hurt humans, but they harm the wood. This is because termites feed on cellulose, and wood contains enough cellulose to attract termites.

Q. How do dry wood termites get into a house?

Ans. Drywood termites enter the house. When termite swarmers fly directly to the wood, they are going to infest. They enter the home through firewood, old furniture, and paper, etc.

Q. Do termites get in your bed?

Ans. Yes, termites can wreak havoc on wood structures such as beds, wardrobes, chairs, etc.

Q. Can you live in a house with termites?

Ans. Buildings or houses built with wood structures are unfit to live once the termites have infested the structure because the system is hollow from inside and can break down anytime.

Q. What are the types of termites?

Ans. Most commonly, there are three types of termites, and all other species fall under these types.

  • Subterranean termites
  • Drywood termites
  • Dampwood termites

Q. Can I treat termites myself?

Ans. Yes, you can treat termites yourself if you can successfully differentiate them from ants. Unfortunately, most of the time, it’s very confusing to distinguish between termites and fly ants.
You can buy miticides from the market and can apply them to infected areas with a sprayer.

Q. How many termites can destroy a house?

Ans. A home can be destroyed in less than two years. About two million termites working in their favorite environment can cause significant damage in the first few months until they damage the whole structure in a year.

Q. How do you get rid of termites in wood?

Ans. There are many miticides available in the market that can be applied to kill termites and their eggs. Also, use Borate on the wood structure before painting. Borate is termite repellent.

Q. Is there a spray for termites?

Ans. Yes, there are a lot of sprays available on the market. You can get information from any local pest control company about which spray to apply to kill termites.

Megan K Carroll

Dr. Megan K Carroll is a doctoral candidate. Researcher and expert in Pests and Pest Control, as well as their effects on our surroundings. The audience of this blog will receive insight and knowledge from Megan K Carroll. This blog greatly appreciates your support.

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