Each year, many households become infested by a variety of wood destroying insects, the most notable being termites. If left unchecked they can cause serious structural damage to a home. In fact, in the United States, termites do more damage to homes annually than all reported fires, tornadoes, hurricanes and windstorms combined.
Termites, like ants and bees, are social insects and live in colonies. The termite colony is comprised of several castes including a queen, soldiers, winged reproductives (swarmers) and workers. The winged reproductives, or swarmers, are the form most commonly seen by homeowners. Ant colonies also release winged reproductives (flying ants). Many times termite infestations go unchecked when a homeowner mistakes termite swarmers for flying ants.
While termite swarmers are a nuisance, they do not cause damage. Their sole function is to find a mate and begin a new colony.Termites are different from almost all other insects in that they can convert the cellulose in wood products back into sugar and utilize it as a food source. They receive nourishment from the sugars and starch which the tree stored during its growth. Still other insects, such as carpenter ants and carpenter bees, get no food whatever from the wood but simply excavates holes and cavities in the wood to provide protective shelter.