Here in Ohio, we have a single species of termite that we have to worry about; the Eastern Subterranean Termite (Reticulitermes flavipes). Termite damage progresses very slowly. An average colony can consume five grams of wood per day – the equivalent of 2 1 ⁄3 linear feet of a 2x4-foot pine board annually. However, as the name would suggest, subterranean termites live underground, so they attack a home from the bottom first. This means not much wood needs to be damage for the structural integrity of the entire house to be jeopardized.
Termites cause billions of dollars in damage each year in the U.S. They primarily feed on wood, but also damage paper, books, insulation, and even swimming pool liners and filtration systems. Termites can injure living trees and shrubs, but more often are a secondary invader of woody plants already in decline. While termites may infest buildings at any time, they are particularly relevant when buying or selling a home since a termite inspection/infestation report is normally a condition of sale. Besides the monetary impact, thousands of winged termites emerging inside one's home are an emotionally trying experience — not to mention the thought of termites silently feasting on one's largest investment.
Common signs of Eastern Subterraneans include dirt-like shelter tubes built to serve as protected paths from the soil to the wood the termites are feeding on, and the translucent wings shed by the kings and queens during swarming. Swarming may occur in the spring, but smaller swarms can occur throughout the summer and fall.