It is well known that subterranean termites are the most destructive insect pests to structures, but they also feed on books, photographs, and when they need to, they will use their jaws to plow through plaster. Georgia is home to a few subterranean termite species including the most widespread and damaging species, eastern subterranean termites, as well as another native species known as R. virginicus. The invasive Formosan subterranean termite also spread to the state from Texas during the 1980s or 1990s, but they originated from Southeast Asia.
As their name suggests, subterranean termites, unlike their drywood and dampwood counterparts, nest below the ground surface. Although these termites cannot be readily observed in their natural habitat, eastern subterranean termite colonies can grow to contain over one million individual termites, and Formosan subterranean termite colonies grow significantly larger in size. It is difficult to determine how far subterranean termite workers can forage below the ground, but experts believe that foraging distances do not exceed a few yards when food is plentiful. However, it has been found that Formosan subterranean termite workers can forage distances at least as large as a football field. It should also be noted that all three subterranean termite species in Georgia can form interconnected colonies that can span vast distances, making their activity below residential areas highly probable.
Subterranean termites cannot be viewed above ground, but they are able to access above ground structural wood sources by building mud tubes that connect soil to above a home’s timber frame. Subterranean termite workers cannot survive the dry atmospheric conditions above ground, but their mud tubes keep them moist when venturing above ground. While subterranean termites cannot be viewed individually above ground, their mud tubes obviously can. The presence of these mud tubes on the foundation of homes serves as the most common sign that a home is infested.
Have you ever spotted subterranean termite mud tubes along the foundation of a home?