You may not always notice them — and they may not look all that scary — but termites are truly terrifying. Why? These sharp-toothed bugs will literally eat you out of house and home. The National Pest Management Association estimates termite damage costs U.S. homeowners $5 billion each year.
In honor of Termite Awareness Week — a campaign that sounds the alarm before these pesky pests begin spring and summer renovations — check out our 10 truly terrifying facts about termites.
1) They may look a lot like ants, but termites are more closely related to cockroaches. They descended from a common ancestor about 130 million years ago.
2) Located in Africa, the largest known termite mound is 42 feet tall! That’s the height of a two-story home.
3) Life isn’t much fun for worker and soldier termites. Totally blind, they don’t need to see because they spend their entire lives in the dark, gnawing away on choice pieces of wood.
4) Termites are never alone. Over 100 species of bacteria and protozoa live in their guts to help them digest all that wood.
5) Termites are seen as a culinary treat in some parts of the world. Besides adventurous humans, aardvarks, anteaters, pangolins echidna, birds and even other bugs enjoy a tasty termite snack.
6) The combined weight of all the termites in the world is greater than the weight of all the humans in the world. Or, put another way, for every person on Earth, there are 1,000 pounds of termites. Eww.
7) Alaska is the only U.S. state that’s practically termite free. You can thank the glacially cold weather for that one.
8) Termite queens are prolific. Living an average of 15 to 20 years, these industrious matriarchs can lay an egg every 15 seconds!
9) It takes a powerful stomach to digest all that wood, which is why termites unleash 150 million tons of methane gas every year. These little bugs are anything but environmentally friendly.
10) Termites are devoted dads. Termite kings stay with their queens for the long haul, fertilizing eggs when needed. They even help out with the child care by feeding their young predigested wood particles. How sweet.
Termite damage can add up quickly, so be on the lookout for drooping, discolored or holey drywall, hollow-sounding wood, peeling paint that resembles water damage, mud-like tubes, maze-like patterns in your wood, squeaky floorboards, swarming termites and piles of wings that resemble fish scales.
To ensure these wood-loving pests aren’t making a meal out of your home, request a yearly termite inspection.
Information provided from Principle Inspection Newsletter