What are Termites?

subterranean termites


Termites are small, social insects belonging to the order Isoptera. While they may seem harmless individually, these insects can pose a significant threat when they form colonies, especially in homes and other wooden structures. Termites are notorious for their ability to feed on wood, causing structural damage that often goes unnoticed until it becomes severe.

Key Characteristics of Termites:

Social Structure:

Termites live in colonies, organized into different castes. The primary castes include workers, soldiers, and reproductives (alates or swarmers).


Termites are cellulose-eating insects. They feed on wood, plant material, paper, and other cellulose-rich substances.

Life Cycle:

The termite life cycle involves egg, nymph, and adult stages. Colonies produce winged reproductives during specific times of the year for swarming and establishing new colonies.


Termites are highly adaptable and can be found in various environments. They often build nests underground, in soil, or within wooden structures.

Silent Invaders:

Termites are known as "silent destroyers" because they can cause extensive damage without immediate signs. Infestations often go unnoticed until structural damage becomes apparent.

What Kinds Of Termites Are There?

Subterranean Termites:

Common in North America, subterranean termites build their nests underground. They create mud tubes to access above-ground food sources and are responsible for significant structural damage.

What are subterranean termites?
Subterranean Termites

Drywood Termites:

These termites infest dry wood and do not require contact with soil. They can be found in structural timber, furniture, and other wooden items.

Dampwood Termites:

Typically found in damp and decaying wood, dampwood termites are less common in homes. They prefer high-moisture environments and can infest wood that has been in contact with water.

What Are The Signs Of A Termite Infestation?

Termite infestations can wreak havoc on your property, causing extensive damage and financial losses if left unchecked. Recognizing the early signs of a termite problem is crucial for prompt intervention and effective control. Here are some key indicators to watch for:

Mud Tubes:

Subterranean termites build mud tubes to connect their nests to a food source. These tubes are often visible on walls, foundations, or wooden structures.

Wood Damage:

Look for hollow or damaged wood, especially in areas with a high cellulose content. Termites feed within the wood, creating galleries and weakening the structure.

Discarded Wings:

After swarming, reproductive termites shed their wings. Finding discarded wings around windows, doors, or on the ground can indicate a termite infestation.

Termite Droppings (Frass):

Drywood termites push fecal pellets out of their galleries. Accumulations of these tiny, hexagonal pellets can be a sign of infestation.

Audible Sounds:

Soldier termites may bang their heads against the wood to signal danger. While these sounds are faint, they can sometimes be heard in infested areas.

Early detection of termite infestations is essential for minimizing damage and mitigating the risk of structural compromise to your property. If you suspect a termite problem, it's crucial to seek professional assistance promptly. At Alta Pest Control, our expert technicians are equipped with the knowledge and tools to assess, treat, and prevent termite infestations effectively. Don't wait until it's too late—contact us today for a thorough inspection and tailored termite control solutions to safeguard your home.

How To Identify Wood That Is Damaged By Termites

Identifying damaged wood, especially when it comes to termite or other pest damage, is essential for maintaining the structural integrity of buildings. Here are some steps to help you identify damaged wood:

1. Hollow Sound:

Tap on the wood with a hard object. Healthy wood will produce a solid, resonant sound, while damaged or hollow wood may produce a dull or hollow sound. Termites and other wood-boring pests often consume wood from the inside, leaving the outer layers intact.

2. Visual Inspection:

Perform a visual inspection of the wood surfaces. Look for the following signs:

  • Tunnels or Galleries: Subterranean termites, for example, create mud tunnels on the surface of wood or within cracks. Drywood termites create galleries inside the wood.
  • Small Holes: Exit holes created by emerging adult beetles or termites may be visible on the surface of the wood.
  • Frass: This is a term for insect excrement. In the case of drywood termites, frass often accumulates outside the infested wood and may resemble fine sawdust.

3. Probe the Wood:

Use a screwdriver or another pointed tool to gently probe the wood's surface. If the wood is damaged, the tool may penetrate easily or may even break through the weakened areas.

4. Check for Mud Tubes:

Subterranean termites build mud tubes on the surface of wood or along walls. These tubes provide shelter and protection as they travel between their nest and a food source.

5. Look for Swarming Insects:

During the termite swarm season, winged termites may emerge from infested wood. If you observe swarming insects or discarded wings around windows, doors, or on the ground, it could indicate a termite infestation.

6. Darkening or Discoloration:

Infested wood may exhibit darkening or discoloration. This can be a result of the pest activity or fungal growth associated with the damage.

7. Sagging or Buckling:

In severe cases of wood damage, you may notice sagging, buckling, or warping of the affected wood. This is a sign of significant structural compromise.

8. Softened Wood:

Press your fingernail into the wood. Healthy wood should be hard and resistant, while damaged wood may feel soft, spongy, or crumble under pressure.

9. Look for Piles of Frass:

Some wood-boring insects, such as powderpost beetles, push out frass from exit holes. Look for small piles of powdery or granular material around the wood.

10. Pay Attention to Surrounding Areas:

Check nearby areas for signs of pests, such as termite mud tubes along foundation walls or on exterior surfaces.

If you suspect termite or pest damage, it's crucial to consult with a pest control professional for a thorough inspection and appropriate treatment. Early detection and intervention are key to preventing further damage and preserving the integrity of wooden structures.

Termite Prevention and Control:

Regular Inspections:

We recommend scheduling routine termite inspections, especially in areas prone to infestations or in older structures. Our expert technicians meticulously assess your property for signs of termite activity, allowing for early detection and intervention.

Moisture Control:

Addressing water leaks promptly is essential, as termites are attracted to moisture. Our team can assist in identifying and rectifying sources of excess moisture, ensuring a less hospitable environment for termites. We also emphasize proper ventilation in crawl spaces to deter termite infestations.

Wood-to-Ground Contact:

Minimizing wood-to-ground contact is key to reducing the risk of termite infestation. Our specialists can advise on strategies to keep wooden structures at a distance from soil, such as installing barriers or using alternative construction materials.

Termite-Resistant Materials:

Consider using termite-resistant materials in construction to fortify your property against termite damage. We recommend options such as treated wood or metal, which offer enhanced protection against termite infestations.

Professional Pest Control:

In the unfortunate event of a termite infestation, rest assured that Alta Pest Control has you covered. Our experienced team utilizes advanced techniques and treatments to effectively eradicate termites and prevent their return. Contact us for prompt and reliable termite eradication and prevention services

Understanding the habits, signs, and types of termites is crucial for early detection and effective management. When dealing with termite issues, consulting with a pest control professional, like Alta Pest Control, ensures a thorough assessment and targeted solutions for termite control.

Termites Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are termites dangerous?

Termites are not harmful to humans. Termites spend their entire lives underground, or in the wood they are eating. They rarely come in direct contact with humans. The most serious threat they pose is the extensive structural damage they do to houses and other buildings. Termite damage is also not covered by most homeowner's insurance. This makes it extremely expensive to repair.

Although termites aren't directly dangerous, their presence in your home could indicate a problem with moisture or mold. Mold growth in your home can cause health problems for you and your loved ones.

What is the cause of my termite problem?

Termites can find their way onto your property if they are infested by termites. A termite "swarm" is when termites, which are winged, reproductive termites, swarm from a mature nest to search for a mate or a new nesting site. While out foraging for food, they may find their way onto your property and into your home.

Eastern subterranean termites can enter homes through cracks or wood in the foundation that are making contact with the soil. Formosan termites can enter buildings from the ground or overhead, often through openings in roofs.

Where can I find termites in my area?

Formosan termites are unique in that they can enter structures at both ground and aerial levels. They can build carton nests and nest above ground. They can access their homes from their nests through the exterior walls, around windows and doors, or on the roof.

Eastern subterranean termites nest underground, not above the ground. These two species move back and forth daily from their nesting areas to find their food sources. They don't nest in the wood that they are eating.

What can I do to get rid of termites?

Alta Pest Control, a family-owned business, is the best option to eliminate termites from your house or business. You can rest assured that your pest problems won't return and we offer quick response times. Our termite professionals offer quality pest control services using only the best products to eradicate termites from your home. Find out why Alta Pest Control is the preferred pest control company for your neighbors. Give us a shout today!

What can I do to prevent termites from happening in the future?

You can prevent termite problems by partnering with Alta Pest Control.

  • To prevent water damage and seepage into walls, clean out gutters.
  • To dry basements and crawl spaces, use dehumidifiers
  • Make sure your crawl spaces are properly ventilated.
  • Leakage in pipes, fixtures, and faucets can be fixed.
  • Get rid of any wood that has been damaged by water.
  • Between any soil or mulch, at least 18 inches should be between your foundation and it.
  • Replace mulch with non-organic gardening materials such as crushed rock and rubber mulch if possible.
  • Replacing missing roof shingles and repairing roof damage is possible.

How Alta Pest Control Protects Your Home From Pests

All of our treatment plans are customized to your home and yard. We do this to ensure that you get the exact coverage you need to keep your home safe. All of our technicians and inspectors are experts in their field, so you can be sure that you are getting top-tier protection.


One of our expert technicians will inspect every inch of your home and business for pest activity. Then they will create a custom plan based on their findings.

Initial Service

Once your custom plan is created, we will treat your home and yard to give you immediate relief from pests. Then, we will create a boundary around your property to prevent more pests from entering.

Follow Ups

After the initial service, we will conduct regular maintenance to ensure that your pest problems remain solved. We will also conduct free inspections for problem pests, such as termites.

Alta Guarantee

When it comes to pest control, we put our money where our mouth is. If we treat your home, and you're still seeing pests, we'll come back and retreat for free. We'll always have your back.


Your Trusted Pest Control Provider

Searching for "pest control near me"?
Check out the areas we service and find a location near you! We service all surrounding areas, as well.