Unlike dampwood and drywood termite species, subterranean termites do not retain water from the wood sources that they infest; instead, subterranean termites get the water they need from the soil that they inhabit. When subterranean termites infest homes, they construct mud tubes that connect the ground soil to structural wood sources, allowing the pests to travel back to the ground soil to hydrate themselves as needed. Since subterranean termites rely on soil for their hydration, they are able to infest structural wood sources that are exceptionally dry. However, since subterranean termites require significant amounts of water in order to survive, they prefer to locate wood sources that are damp. This is why subterranean termite colonies mature rapidly within homes that contain damp lumber. Subterranean termites that infest structural wood sources that are lacking moisture tend to grow slowly, and sometimes, colonies will die before reaching maturity in these cases.
Research has shown that subterranean termites consume wood more rapidly during summer seasons that see significant amounts of rainfall. Therefore, subterranean termite colonies mature most rapidly during hot and rainy summer months. Homes that contain structural wood that has decayed or developed fungal infestations are preferred by subterranean termites. Unsurprisingly, a thriving subterranean termite infestation often indicates that a home’s structural wood has become compromised by water absorption or wood rot. It has also been found that older homes that have become infested with termites in the past are at risk of reinfestations, and reinfestations are unlikely to occur within fairly new homes that contain structural wood that is lacking moisture. Structural lumber within homes and buildings are often sourced from Douglas fir, spruce or hemlock tree species. Of these three types of lumber, Dougals fir is most resistant to termite infestations, but infestations in Douglas fir lumber are not necessarily uncommon, especially in cases where Douglas fir lumber has become saturated with water over time.
Do you know how resistant your home’s structural lumber is to termite infestations?