In New England we contend with the Eastern Subterranean Termite, other species of termites are typically not found in the northeast. Eastern Subterranean Termites are social insects living in large organized colonies. Colonies consist of Workers, Soldiers and Reproductives. Workers are responsible for consuming cellulose (wood, paper, etc.) to feed the colony. Soldiers, as their name implies, are responsible for protecting the colony. Reproductives, comprised of alates (or swarmers) leave the colony to establish new colonies (typically in spring as weather warms) and primary Queens and males which stay in a colony for life.
Eastern Subterranean Termite colonies live in the ground for shelter from light and cold. They infest damp wood as a food source and prefer damp soil as they need moisture to survive. Worker termites constantly forage for food, communicating success to other workers through complex secretions called pheromones. Termites build shelter tubes or mud tubes to protect workers as they deliver cellulose from a food source to the colony.
Typically a termite infestation is first noticed as winged termite swarmers leave the colony to establish new residences. Swarms of small flying insects are seen in spring as the weather warms, a natural indicator of a nearby termite infestation. Additional signs of a termite infestation include shed termite wings or the presence of mud tubes typically found on the foundation of homes or buildings. Conveniently, the color of mud tubes is almost identical to the color of cement foundations making them extremely hard to detect to the untrained eye.
Eastern Subterranean Termites are one of the most destructive insects in America causing billions of dollars in damage annually. One colony of Eastern Subterranean Termites may contain anywhere from tens of thousands to one million individuals.