There are four main termite species in the United States.
- Formosan termites
- Subterranean Termites
- Drywood termites
- Dampwood termites
The main families that people experience termite problems from are the Formosan, subterranean and dry wood families. All three of these species feed on cellulose. Though this sounds like a liquid or fatty material, cellulose comes from wooden materials. The building material of at least some portion of your home is probably quite a delicious lunch to termites.
Termites live like ants. Comparing termites vs ants they look very similar. They live in colonies that are organized structurally. There are different types of termites that have different jobs. It is interesting that termites are so similar to ants and yet ants are their mortal enemy.
As their name suggests, subterranean termites like to live below the ground. They usually live under their wooden food source in your home. They travel up through tunnels that they've made below ground to retrieve their food.
Statistically, subterranean termites are the cause of over 90% of termite damage done by all termites each year. In the US these creatures cost American families around three billion dollars each year. Subterranean termites are not as easy to treat and eliminate as other species. Their underground living situation gives them quite an advantage when they want to escape extermination.
The Drywood termite family is the termite family that most people think of when they think of termites. They live above ground and most people have seen a colony of dry wood termites in their lifetime. They live in the wood in your shed, the wood that makes up your house; you will see them feeding on dead trees and feeding on your wooden furniture.
These dreaded visitors cause damage that doesn't even show up until two years after the colonies began feeding on the wood.
Formosan termites are a termite family you don't hear as much about. They are a problem in many areas of the world though, especially the southern US. They are a species that lives below the ground like the subterranean termites but they are a bit different. Formosan termites are more aggressive and prolific than native species of termites. While Formosan termites eat dead wood, they can also feed on living trees, something most termites don't do.
This family of termites originated in southern China and was said to have been transported to the U.S. from Asia during World War 2. Formosan termites have also spread to other areas of the world now too.