Many termite species can be found throughout the US, some of which are pests that infest structural wood within homes and buildings. Unsurprisingly, termites are the most economically costly urban insect pests in the country, as the annual cost of termite-related structural damage exceeds five billion dollars in the US alone. There are three types of termites known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites, and several pest species belonging to each of these groups can be found in the US. Only four subterranean termite species are responsible for inflicting 90 percent of all termite-related damages annually in the US, and unfortunately, these four species are prevalent in Austin.
The subterranean termite species that infest Austin homes most frequently include eastern subterranean termites (Reticulitermes flavipes), dark southern subterranean termites (R. virginicus), and light southern subterranean termites (R. hageni). In addition to these three native termite species, the invasive Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formanosus) can be found throughout Texas, including Austin, but they are most prevalent in Houston and other cities located along the Gulf Coast. Another subterranean termite pest species found in Austin is commonly known as the arid-land subterranean termite (R. tibialis).
The drywood termite species that are known to be destructive pests in Texas include southeastern drywood termites (Incisitermes snyderi), West Indian powderpost drywood termites (Cryptotermes brevis), and western drywood termites (I. minor). The southeastern drywood termite is the most commonly managed drywood termite pest in Austin, but drywood termites are not nearly as destructive as their subterranean counterparts.
Subterranean termites live in colonies below the ground where workers regularly leave the nest to forage. It takes between three and seven years for a termite colony to reach maturity, and native subterranean termite colonies that are more than ten years old may contain more than one million individuals, most of which are workers. Formosan subterranean termite colonies are unusually large, as they grow to contain more than ten million individuals. Because of their unusually large colony sizes, Formosan subterranean termite infestations are typically far more destructive than infestations established by natives.
Have you ever witnessed a termite swarm occur in a residential area?