Eastern subterranean termites inhabit colonies located beneath the ground surface where workers travel any distance necessary in order to locate food sources. After locating a food source that is substantial enough to provide sustenance to an entire colony, a worker will alert other colony members of the food source’s location by emitting a trail pheromone. Once other workers arrive they carry small fragments of the food back to the colony. Most subterranean termites obtain the cellulose they need from the rotting plant debris encountered below and on the surface of ground soil. Obviously, foraging termites often encounter homes, but since subterranean termites are not able to move above ground without perishing from the dry outside air, workers must construct protective mud tubes that connect structural wood sources with the moist ground soil. This is why subterranean termite infestations are usually found in structural wood components located near the ground and immediately above the concrete or brick foundation of homes.
Mud tubes allow termites to access above ground wood sources without suffering the desiccating effects of air with low humidity levels. Subterranean termites are able to survive within the moist internal cavities that they excavate inside wood, but they must travel back to the ground soil periodically in order to retain water. Some homes contain excessively damp or waterlogged structural wood sources due to indoor spills, floods, and plumbing or roof leaks. These wood sources may contain enough water to sustain an eastern subterranean termite colony for a long period of time, making return trips to the ground soil unnecessary. Roof leaks and upper story plumbing leaks may allow subterranean termite workers to establish an isolated nest within the upper-most lumber components of a home’s timber frame. Otherwise, subterranean termite colonies are almost always located within structural wood sources located near the foundations and within the crawl spaces of homes. The most common structural wood sources where eastern subterranean termite colonies are found include subfloors, joists, patios, door frames, window frames, and lattice work.
Have you ever heard of a termite infestation located on the second story of a house or building located in the northeast?