Termites have been around since antiquity – for over 250 million years. They are social insects and live in colonies which are usually located in the ground or wood. Most termites feed on cellulose from wood and wood by-products such as paper; some tropical species feed on fungi, carrion, etc. They are worldwide in distribution with about 2,500 described species, and about 50 species are found in the United States.
Termites are usually divided into 3 groups based on the location of their colony: the subterranean, the drywood, and the dampwood termites. The biology and habits of each group are different, so a detailed knowledge of each is necessary for effective control. The most common or economically important members of these 3 groups can be summarized as follows. The most common of the subterranean termites are the eastern and western subterranean and the Formosan subterranean termites; for the drywood termites, the western and southeastern drywood and the powderpost/furniture termites are the most important; and of the dampwood termites the Pacific, the Nevada/small/dark, the desert, and the Florida dampwood termites cause the most problems.
In the desert southwest, the desert subterranean termites, cause the phones to ring during the rainy season when they plaster tree trunks, fences, and dry litter with their soil sheetings. However, since they do not cause structural damage, any anxiety is relieved with the education of the concerned people.