(Reticulitermes flavipes) Although similar in looks to the ant, the termite is a different species of insect that evolved over 150 million years ago. There are more than 3,000 species worldwide and 47 species in the U.S. The two most destructive types of subterranean termites are the Eastern subterranean termite and the Formosan subterranean termite. Termites have a small, unicellular protozoan living inside of them that enables them to digest wood and other food. A typical native subterranean colony will contain 240,000 termites, but a typical Formosan colony will contain two to four million termites. The mature termite colony has three castes, which have distinctive physical characteristics : reproducers (king and queen), soldiers and workers.
Termite live in highly organized colonies that are interconnected by extensive tunnels. Colonies include kings and queens, nymphs, workers and soldiers. A colony matures in five to 10 years. A queen can live up to 25 years and a mature queen may produce up to 2,000 eggs a day. A secondary king and queen may begin producing eggs to form another colony if they are separated from the primary king or queen. This nest can expand the termites range by becoming a separate colony.
Eastern Subterranean Termites
This species are the most common and widely spread termite species in North America. They are the most economically damaging and can cause substantial damage, especially if they go undetected within the structure. Eastern Subterranean termites are a native American pest that feeds on cellulose materials such as structural wood, wood fixtures, paper, books and cotton. Occasionally, it will even attack the roots of shrubs and trees Swarms usually occur as early as February through May. This species are capable of consuming up to 5 grams of wood per day, per colony, the equivalent of 2 1/2 linear feet of a 2′x4′ pine board annually.