What You Need to Know About
NJ Subterranean Termites
What Are Termites?
Termites are a species of insect that consumes wood and other cellulose materials. Although they can cause significant damage to homes, they are actually beneficial to the environment because they break down dead wood and plant material. Termites are found in all areas of New Jersey, and the eastern subterranean termite is the most prevalent termite in the state.
Figure. How to Tell a Termite From a Flying Ant. Termites have four equal-sized wings, whereas ants have two large wings and two shorter wings. Termites have a thick waist whereas flying ants have a pinched or thin waist.
Termites Can Cause Substantial Hidden Damage to Your Home
Termites are social insects that live in colonies in the soil. Each termite colony has a king and queen whose sole purpose is to breed more termites. Most of the termites that compose the colony are worker termites. These worker termites continually forage and look for food (ie, wood) to bring back to the growing colony.
Figure: Worker termite
From the soil, termites generally enter structures undetected through hidden pathways in floor slabs, foundation walls, and floors. When subterranean termites enter into living spaces and feed on wood structures, they become a huge and costly problem. Termites eat the wood from the inside out, making the damage very difficult to see until it is too late. A piece of termite-ravaged wood may look perfect on the outside but be completely hollow and structurally useless. The average NJ termite colony can consume 3 feet of 2" x 4" lumber annually. Left untreated, termites can cause significant damage to the structure of the home. Every home with wood structure or wood members is susceptible to termite infestation.
How to Spot Termite Activity
To spot termite activity, look for the presence of mud tubes or mud tunnels. Termites use these mud tubes to travel from an area where there is no wood present to an area where wood or cellulous material is located. Termite tubes are sometimes clearly visible, but other times they blend in to the background and are difficult to spot. Another way to spot termites is to look for damage. Termites eat wood from the inside so framing needs to be probed in order to determine if termite damage exists. Sometimes wood will appear to be fine visually but hollow inside. Termites can cause significant and sometimes catastraufic structural damage.
Inspect for Termites Before You Buy a Home
If you are buying a home, having a professional termite inspection is vital. You must know whether the home has an active termite problem and the extent of the related damage to be able to make an informed decision about your pending real estate transaction. Furthermore, most mortgage companies require a professional termite inspection. You can easily arrange for a termite inspection when you schedule your NJ Home inspection with LookSmart Home Inspections. In most instances, we will have one of our strategic professional partners perform the termite inspection.
Want to Know More?
For additional information on termites found in New Jersey, see this concise but informative article from the Rutgers University cooperative: