The eastern subterranean termite is the most common and widely distributed termite in North America. It occurs in Canada and southward through the eastern United States and into Mexico and west to Arizona and Utah. This is Missouri's most common and destructive termite.
The three most recognizable forms (castes) of the eastern subterranean termite are the swarmers (winged reproductives), soldiers and workers. Swarmers are about 3/8 inch long including wings, dark brown to almost black and have 2 pairs of translucent (slightly milky to slightly smoky) wings. The front and hind wings are of equal size. Soldiers are about 1/4 inch long and have an elongated, amber-colored head armed with long jaws. The body is translucent white and the legs are rather short. Workers are 3/16 to 1/4 inch long, translucent white with a nearly round amber head and have rather short legs.
Eastern subterranean termite colonies are usually located in the ground. They are usually located below the frost line, but above the water table and rock formations. Mud (shelter) tubes are built to bridge areas of adverse conditions between the colony and food sources. They can enter structures through cracks less than 1/16 inch wide. However, if a constant source of moister is available (like leaky pipes), colonies (called secondary colonies) can exist above ground and without ground contact. Also, true aerial colonies (having no ground contact) are known to exist.Professional Control. Control of an existing infestation may involve up to 3 methods:
- Rottler technicians can apply a chemical barrier between the termite colony and the wood of the structure using a residual termiticide liquid treatment of the soil and grade material abutting and beneath the foundation
- Structural wood and other cellulose-containing components of houses and other buildings can be treated with a penetrating residual liquid preservative having insecticidal qualities
- A baiting system can be installed and monitored on the premises to eliminate invasive termite colonies.
Also may involve one of 3 methods:
- A liquid termiticide barrier treatment can be applied to the soil beneath and beside the foundation during the building construction process. This is called a pre-construction treatment.
- A physical barrier of specially laminated plastic sheeting or stainless steel mesh can be spread across the foundation site after the footer and a foundation wall are in place but before the cement slab floor has been poured.
- A baiting system can be installed and monitored on the premises to detect termite foraging activity.
Mechanical protection measures:
All wood-to-soil contact must be eliminated. This includes soil and mulch contact with wood and shingle siding, window frames, wooden threshold components and door jambs. All wood debris must be removed from soil-floor crawlspaces. Deck and fence posts, as well as landscaping timbers, should be of commercially treated wood. Firewood piles, stacks of spare lumber and scrap wood should be stored off the ground on blocks. The wood moisture content of structures should be reduced to below 20% by:
- structural and plumbing repairs
- correct landscaping practices
- indoor ventilation enhancement
- strategic dehumidification
- efficient air conditioning
Secondary and aerial termite colonies are controlled, for the most part, by correcting the moisture problem and drying out the moisture source in roofing and exterior walls.