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The eastern subterranean termite is only one of numerous subterranean termite species within the United States, but this species is the only one to dwell within Massachusetts. However, Massachusetts residents should still have regular termite inspections conducted on their property and within their homes, as Massachusetts is located within a high risk area for termite attacks. According to experts, one in five homes located in a high risk area have been, or will become attacked by eastern subterranean termites. Although eastern subterranean termites, like all subterranean termites, dwell within soil where they consume dead plant matter, they will not hesitate to attack homes when they are encountered. Once an individual termite worker locates an appetizing timber-framed home in Massachusetts, it will not take long for its fellow colony members to show up for the feast, but infestations can take years before an affected home sees significant structural damages.

To put it simply, a termite colony is divided into social classes, which consists of a royal pair, soldiers and workers. Termite queens also produce winged reproductive termites that eventually take flight from a nest in order to establish a new colony elsewhere. In all cases, it is a termite worker that discovers a timber-framed house that is suitable for infestation, as only workers forage through the soil. Soldiers, on the other hand, remain near the nest in order to defend the colony and the royal pair from attacks by other insects. If a worker termite locates a home, other workers soon arrive by following the first termites trail-pheromones. If the invading workers belong to a large colony, then large amounts of workers will rapidly damage a home’s structural wood, but if the worker belongs to a relatively small colony, the damage that the termites inflict to a home’s structural wood may not become noticeable for a long period of time. However, the king and queen continue to produce thousands of eggs per day as they nest in the soil near an infested home. During this time, workers travel back and forth from the wood to the soil through mud tubes in order to feed the royal pair as well as the soldiers. Each termite egg takes in between 30 to 80 days before hatching into a first instar immatures. Therefore, an eastern subterranean termite colony can be slow to grow initially, but within a few years, the queen will begin to produce other reproductive termites that lay additional eggs. Within a few years, an eastern subterranean colony can reach a maximum of 3 million individuals with workers that can forage as much as 11,000 square feet of ground.

Have you ever found termite mud tubes along the border of a house or within a crawl space?