Just Moved To New Jersey? What You Need To Know About Eastern Subterranean Termites & How They Differ From Drywood Termites

If you just moved to New Jersey, then you need to learn about eastern subterranean termites. If you had a drywood termite problem in the west and were able to eradicate them with the help of an exterminator, then it is important to know that eastern subterranean termites live very different lives and must be dealt with differently than drywood termites. Read on to learn about eastern subterranean termites, why you need to be aware of them, and how an exterminator can help you get rid of them if you have or develop an infestation. 

Eastern Subterranean Termites vs. Drywood Termites

Eastern subterannean termites are the most common species of termite in the eastern United States and one in five homes in the east will be infested by them at some point. They differ from drywood termites in many ways. First, subterannean termites typically live in the moist soil surrounding a home, while drywood termites live in wood itself. However, both consume the cellulose in wood. Subterannean termites simply make tubes in the mud that they travel through to get to the wood they would like to feast on and then travel back to their colonies in the mud after they have had their feasts. 

Eastern subterannean termite colonies are much larger than drywood termite colonies, and this can make them extra destructive due to the sheer number of them present during an infestation. They can also be much more difficult to spot when they first begin infesting a home, because they do not produce fecal pellets, like drywood termites do that are the typical tell-tale sign of a drywood termite infestation. 

Instead, only one group of members of a termite colony -- the worker termites -- eat the wood itself. The worker termites then digest the food and regurgitate it to feed the other members of the termite colony, including the large queen. This process leaves very little waste, which can make detecting the first colonies difficult. 

Signs of an Eastern Subterranean Termite Infestation

Since eastern subterranean termites live below ground, they are often difficult to detect. Also, while they feast on any wood they can, they only eat the interior of the wood. They typically leave the exposed outer layer of the wood intact and slowly replace the wood inside with mud. If your home is made of wood, then they can begin living inside of your walls in the mud they fill the wooden boards with. 

However, there are three telltale signs of an eastern subterranean termite infestation to keep a look out for: 

  1. Mud tubes. As the termites travel from the soil around your home to the wood, they often leave mud tubes that are about the width of a pencil. 
  2. Winged swarmers. One group of the termite colony consists of "swarmers." These small termites are about the size and shape of ants, but they are typically gray in color. 
  3. Wood that sound hollow when you tap it. If you notice mud tubes and/or swarmers in a particular area of your home, tap the wood. If it sounds hollow, the interior has likely been eaten by the termites. 

How To Get Rid of a Subterranean Termite Infestation

As soon as you notice any signs that you may have a subterranean termite infestation, it is important to call an exterminator who has experience battling them. It is very important to never disturb the termites when you detect them, even though your first instinct may be to try to deal with them yourself. If you disturb a colony, the termites will simply flee to another area of your home where they will then begin causing damage again in that area. When you leave them where you find them, your exterminator will know exactly where they are and won't have to hunt to figure out where they moved to. 

You should also have your exterminator inspect your home to locate any other colonies that you have not noticed yet. 

If you had your home treated with tent fumigation when you had a drywood termite infestation, realize that these are different termites that require different extermination techniques. While your exterminator may have other treatments they prefer for your specific infestation, subterranean termites are typically baited; when the worker termites eat poisonous bait, they then regurgitate it to the other colony members to consume. Due to this unique eating habit of theirs, baiting is actually very successful for this termite species. Baits must be replaced on a regular basis until the infestation is completely gone. In addition, your exterminator will likely treat the soil around your home with a termiticide. 

If you just moved to New Jersey, then it is important to know about eastern subterranean termites, the signs your home may be infested with them, and what to do if you see signs of an infestation. Remember that they live in the soil and not inside wood like drywood termites do, and they may need to be handled differently by your exterminator due to their unique lifestyle and habits.