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termite: Damage by Termites

The termites that cause the greatest damage for dwellings typically belong to the family Rhinotermitidae, the soil dwellers, or subterranean, termites. The Formosan termite, a more aggressive species than the U.S. species, was discovered in the United States in 1965 along the Gulf and in Atlantic port cities. Soil dwellers attack only wood that is in contact with the ground or close enough to be reached through enclosed earthen runways, which are connected to the termite's underground galleries. Treatment of soil, use of treated wood, or shielding with metal and concrete are among the methods used to prevent entry of termites into buildings. Drywood termites, of the family Kalotermitedae, do not require as high a humidity as do soil dwellers and will attack trees, fence posts, stumps, and wooden buildings. Although they can cause significant damage, they tend to establish smaller colonies.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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