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What do termites look like?

Most termites range in size from 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch long. Most of these insects have softer, peanut-shaped bodies without any clear segmentation. They come in a variety of colors ranging from light tan to a darker brown. Some termites may have different appearances depending on their role in the colony. Soldiers have large, identifiable mandibles. Queens are much larger than the rest of the colony, often up to one inch long. A darker color and large wings mark reproductive termites.

Where do termites live?

Most termites live in wooden structures, dead and fallen trees, and soil. Since they can burrow into wood, eating it from the inside out, they can be hard to detect if they make their way into your home. Termites prefer warmer climates, putting subtropical regions like Wilmington, North Carolina, at an increased risk.

Subterranean termites and, more specifically, Eastern subterranean termites are the most widespread types living in North Carolina as well as across the country. These termites nest under the ground and move back and forth each day from their nest to a food source. Subterranean termites move through the soil or mud tubes that they create to travel safely above the ground.

Risks posed by termites

The most significant risk termites pose is to the structure of your home. By eating the wood that is the framework of your house, termites can cause serious damage, occasionally compromising the safety of the building. These damages often cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair. Adding to the cost of repairs is the fact that most homeowners insurance does not cover termite damage.

Another reason termites are so dangerous is because they can work unnoticed for months or even years. Subterranean termites enter into homes and other structures "silently" through the soil and pieces of wood that make direct contact with the earth. Across the country, termites are responsible for causing billions of dollars in damages every year. Even if your home is not wood, termites can tunnel through your walls and eat away at wood cabinets or furniture.

How can I prevent termites in the future?

  • Avoid attracting termites to your North Carolina property by implementing these termite prevention tips in and around your home:
  • Remove fallen trees, tree stumps, and piles of leaves from your property. 
  • Prevent water damage by keeping gutters clear, placing weather stripping around windows and doors, and fixing leaky pipes. 
  • Use dehumidifiers to keep moisture level low in your home.
  • Remove wood from your home that has been damaged by water.
  • Replace mulch with non-organic gardening materials like crushed rock, rubber mulch, or other options.
  • Create a barrier (18-inch) between any mulch or soil and your home’s foundation. 
  • Seal cracks in the foundation of your home.

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