Termites are small, wood-destroying insects that can nest and cause damage around homes with few signs of activity. To counteract their destructive habits, academic experts (entomologists), pest control companies and termite control product manufacturers continually work together to study this insect’s biology and behavior. By increasing understanding of this pest, more effective control methods can be developed to specifically target and control termite infestations, reduce the likelihood of damage and potentially, decrease this pest’s spread.
In studying termites, biology and behavior, experts have calculated termite statistics that help pest control technicians understand the amount of damage a termite colony can inflict in a certain period of time. For example, scientists believe that most termite species eat 2 or 3 percent of their body weight each day. Based on the type of termite infesting a home or building, scientists can estimate the size of a colony and multiply this number by the amount of wood consumed by an individual termite to estimate the rate of damage caused by the colony.
Because Formosan termites (the most aggressive species of subterranean termite) form the largest colonies, up to 2 million individuals each, they are likely to cause the greatest amount of damage in the least amount of time. In general, subterranean termites tend to form larger colonies than drywood termites, so subterranean termite colonies typically damage homes more quickly than drywood termites.
Termite Damage Statistics
- Termites damage approximately 600,000 homes in the U.S. each year.
- U.S. residents spend an estimated $5 billion annually to control termites and repair termite damage.
- According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. residents spend at least $1 billion on Formosan termite control and repairs each year. Some experts estimate the number is closer to $2 billion.