Termites are perhaps the most dreaded pests among property owners, and for good
reason. If you own a home, commercial building, or multi-family housing
complex in the Dallas area, it's important to arm yourself with knowledge
about what termites are, how to protect your structure, and what to do
if a termite infestation should occur. Preventative measures and swift
action are key!
Check out this list of frequently asked questions about termites. If you
suspect you might have termites, or you have further questions not addressed
here, feel free to give Miss Phoebe's a call at
What are termites?
Termites are considered to be among the most destructive pests in the world.
Sometimes mistaken for certain types of ants, termites are insects that
feed on wood, and they don't discriminate about where it comes from. They
will eat a decaying log in the forest just as quickly as they'll eat the
wooden support beams of your home.
There are approximately 50 species of termites that terrorize homes in
the United States, including:
Dry wood termites, which are typically found near coastal areas in Southern/Southwestern states
Damp wood termites, which are typically found in the Northwestern and Southeastern US
Subterranean termites, which are found everywhere in the US and live in nests underground
Do termites just eat wood? Do termites eat sugar?
Nearly all plant matter – including wood – contains a compound
called cellulose. This compound gives plants their structure, but it is
made up of sugar molecules. Without going into too much detail, termites
can break down cellulose into simple sugars, thanks to microorganisms
in their digestive systems. Both the termite and the microorganisms within
it use these simple sugars as food.
What do termites look like?
There are more than 40 species of termites in the U.S., but despite this
variety, most termite species share similar characteristics. They are
typically white to light brown in color, measure between a quarter and
half of an inch in length, and have straight antennae.
Like ants, individual termites will have different roles in their colonies,
so some may appear different because of these roles. As a consequence,
some termites from the same colony may be larger than the others, appear
darker in color, and/or have wings.
Where are termites most prevalent?
Are far as the U.S. is concerned, the only place where termites are not
found is Alaska. They tend to thrive in warmer climates, so they may be
more commonly found in states throughout the Southern and Southwestern
When it comes to your home, termites can be found wherever they can find
that cellulose they love. This means infestations can occur wherever there
is wood or even drywall in your house.
How do you know if you have termites?
Termites may seem stealthy, but they leave behind plenty of clues that
can be easily identified once you know what you’re looking for:
Grooves in wood: As termites chew through wood, they leave behind very apparent grooves.
These grooves can be long, curly, or simply appear to meander around aimlessly.
This is a telltale sign that termites are in your home, or were at some
point in the past, and a pest control technician should be consulted to
look for signs of an active infestation.
Blisters in wood floors: When you have subterranean termites, they might be eating at the subfloor
of your home. This can cause “blisters” in the wood flooring
throughout your home that can appear as if water damage has taken place.
If you notice these blisters but haven’t experienced plumbing issues,
then termites could be to blame.
Mud tubes: Subterranean termites nest underground, so they need a safe way to access
their food (i.e. your home). They do this by building small tubes of mud
where the ground meets your home. Mud tubes can be about as thick and
long as a pencil, although they may curve or branch off as well.
Termite droppings: Drywood termites, which actually nest inside of wood, will tunnel their
way through it and create small holes that they’ll use to remove
their droppings (because not even these pests like poop). Termite excrement
is essentially wood, but it will accumulate in small mounds of pellets
that can resemble sawdust or coffee grounds.
How can you tell ants and termites apart?
Winged carpenter ants are often confused with termites because they do
look similar. However, there are some key differences to be aware of:
Carpenter ants have a narrow, pinched waist, whereas termites have a wider waist
Carpenter ants have unequal length wings, while termites have wings of
Carpenter ants have elbowed antennae, while termites have antennae that
Carpenter ants are black in color, whereas termites are a whitish or golden
How long does termite treatment take?
Most treatments will take about a day to complete, although very large
properties or complicated termite infestations may take longer to address.
When properly applied, treatment can be effective for several years.
I don’t see any termites. Should I still get a termite treatment?
Yes. Just because you haven’t seen termites for yourself doesn’t
mean they aren’t already around. They may be beneath your floors,
in your walls, or another place in your home that you can’t easily
access. That said, getting treatment can also prevent them from moving
in if they haven’t already!
Can termite infestations be prevented?
If you want to reduce the risk of a termite infestation, there are a few
things you can do. For one, stack firewood, lumber, and other building
materials that may contain cellulose away from your home. You should also
address drainage issues around your foundation because, like all living
things, termites need water and will nest near a water source.
You should also have your property regularly inspected and treated by a
professional pest control technician who can provide further advice and
guidance on how to prevent termite infestations.
There are homes in my neighborhood with termites. How can I protect my house?
If one house near yours has a termite problem, it’s unlikely for
termites to move from house to house, but not impossible. Consider how
small termites are and how much space there is between your home and your
neighbors, as well as various obstacles like walls.
That said, it’s important to remove wood mulch, lumber, dead wood,
and other cellulose-laden obstacles between you and your neighbor’s
property. Termites in your neighbor’s home may gradually move between
your yards as they find new sources of food. If you leave an obvious trail
of wood to your house for them to follow, they might just move in!
As with preventing any infestation, however, you should also get your home
inspected and sprayed to guard against any possible infestation!