Nashville, Murfreesboro, and Mt. Juliet, TN
Question:Are Termites Active In Cold Weather?
In the warmer months of the year, termites seem to be active and can be found working without letting up. In the winter and wet months, they seem to disappear, leading many to believe that they either just stop working and hibernate or just die off under the snow or wet soil. Both of these seemingly obvious answers are far from the truth. Termites remain active throughout the year. Before getting into the details of what actually happens, here is a little background on the termite.
Though they look like ants and are in some parts of the world even called white ants, termites are not related to ants in any way. In fact, they are of the same order as the cockroach. They are similar to ants and bees and wasps in the way they work. They are known to divide the work among different classes and castes. Termites mostly feed on dead plants, leaf litter, animal dung, and wood. There are over 3000 different species of termites. They live in colonies that can span from a few hundred termites to over a million in some cases. They have a swarm intelligence which leads them to be decentralized and self-organized within the hive. Termite colonies can be subterranean city-like structures and are built in a very complex and intricate way.
A typical colony of termites contains three types of termites – nymphs, soldiers, and workers. One colony can have more than one queen and reproductive members of both sexes.
Termites are considered to be economically important in their interaction with humans as they are responsible for millions of dollars worth damage every year as they destroy wooden structures from the inside out. They are also not restricted to one region of the planet and do not have any particular temperature range in which they survive or operate. Since they are more prevalent in the warmer months, homeowners are somewhat aggressive in the way they protect their walls and floors, but fail to do so in the winter months.
Termites do not have the ability to generate their own body temperature, they are also not reptiles but are cold blooded, meaning the temperature changes in the environment can affect their bodies directly. The termites that build nests in the ground are the ones that are thought to be dormant in winter. These termites handle the cold by simply digging deeper into the soil in search of warmth. Termites have been found at over 40 inches below their nests, deep into the ground. Their activity can slow down to an extent, but they do not by any means lie dormant. They still forage for food and can still damage wood in the winter. The extent of damages caused by termites in the winter months depends entirely on the type of termite, size of colony and proximity to wood. Three things are essential for the survival of termites – water, wood, and heat. All three of those can be given to termites in a house with heating.
Indications of Termite Infestation
During the winter months, termite activity is slowed down, but it does not mean it will stop altogether. A few things that you can look for that indicate an infestation are mud tubes on walls or floors, sunken wood surfaces that seem like mild craters on the surface, shed wings of the insect in or around the house, and wood powder near minute pinholes on the face of the wood. It pays to be always vigilant through the year.