Document Type

Home, Lawn & Garden Insects & Pests

Publication Date



Subterranean termites, the most destructive wood-feeding insects in Tennessee, feed on cellulose that is usually obtained from wood. Termites are very important because they help recycle dead, fallen trees back into the soil. They do not easily distinguish between a dead pine tree and pine lumber; therefore, their food may be in the form of a dead tree or the wood in a house. They will also feed upon fence posts, paper, books and fabrics of plant origin, as well as living plants such as trees, shrubs, flowers and some crops.

Colonies of subterranean termites live in the soil and enter structures through wood or foundation walls adjacent to the soil. In cases of structures built partly or completely on concrete slabs, infestation occurs through expansion joints, cracks, and utility and sewer openings. The damage to buildings is reduced structural strength of the wood caused by the removal of part of the tissues.

Information contained in this publication is provided to inform the consumer, as well as the pest control professional, of termite biology and the techniques and materials available for termite control. In the past, the main method of termite control was to form an insecticidal barrier between the wood and soil. Specialized equipment (sprayers with large tanks, rodding tools, large drills, safety equipment and others) and special knowledge were and still are required for the proper application of termite insecticides. Currently, conventional soil treatments, as well as baiting systems, are available for termite control. Knowledge of termites’ biology and behavior is even more crucial with the use of termite baits that suppress or “eliminate” termite colonies. Experience using baits is a key component to achieving control with this method. Therefore, securing the services of a reliable pest control professional is advisable in almost all cases.

Publication Number

PB1344-3M-4/01(Rev) E12-4615-00-032-01

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Included in

Entomology Commons