A Closer Look At Termites In The Home
June 24, 2014
One of the most prized accomplishments of every family is the acquisition of a new home. Part of the American dream includes ownership of your own house. Newlyweds search for just the right house in which to raise their children. Retirees search for that perfect retirement home to enjoy those golden years.
However, this dream could all be interrupted and come crashing down over a colony of small pests called termites. All homeowners share concerns about the potential damage termites can cause in and around your home. In fact, they are considered to be the number one threat to wood-based structures, even more so than the threat of a fire. Termites cost American homeowners more than $5 billion in damage each year. The National Pest Management Association stresses the need for education of termite basics, identification, warning signs of infestation and preventative steps being key to protecting homes from extensive termite damage.
An infestation of termites will be cause for much frustration and costly repairs for the homeowner if the presence of termites remains undetected. Business owners will recognize a negative impact on their company productivity, profits and reputation anytime their commercial establishment becomes infested. In either case, professional services will be required.
Anytime termites are mentioned, one immediately thinks of the danger and damage they invoke on homes and businesses. In fact, this damage has such a negative effect on property owners that it is difficult to consider that there are benefits to the existence of termites. They are incredibly useful in that they fulfill a very important role in the ecosystem. The subterranean termite helps break down dead plants, returning to the ecosystem for further use. Without this function, we would be buried in dead plants. The termite also provides food for predators such as birds and lizards. This, of course, is helpful to our ecosystem.
There are two main groupings of termites attacking and damaging homes in the United States: termites that live underground and those that live entirely in wood. The underground termite is called subterranean termites while the species that lives entirely in the wood are called drywood termites. Regardless of which species, the first signs of termites are grounds for immediate action.
The eastern subterranean termites are considered to be the most common termites found in North America. These wood destroying insects feed on cellulose material found in the wooden structure of buildings, wooden fixtures, paper and books. It is estimated that a mature colony of subterranean termites can range in population from 20,000 workers to as many as 5 million workers. The primary queen of the colony continues to add to the total by laying 5,000 to 10,000 eggs each year.
The subterranean termite is a social insect that shares resources and divides their responsibilities through a caste system. These colonies of male and female termites are organized and fit in the worker caste, soldier caste, or reproductive caste.
The worker caste is the largest group of the colony and are made up of blind, wingless, soft-bodied termites with a round head. They are sterile and devoted only to serving and caring for the rest of the colony. Their responsibilities include foraging for food and water, building and repairing shelter tubes and feeding and grooming other termites. They also care for the eggs and young hatchlings.
The soldier termites are also wingless and look somewhat like the workers except for the head. The soldier’s head is large and rectangular with long black mandibles that are used to crush enemy ants and other threatening insects or pests. The soldier caste only comprises of 1 to 2% of the entire colony and their primary purpose is defending the colony. The soldier is not capable of feeding himself and must depend on the worker termite to provide him with regurgitated food.
The reproductive caste is comprised of winged termites that sport two pair of long narrow wings of equal size. They are dark in color and have beaded antennae. In the spring of the year, these adult winged reproductive caste members begin swarming. This is when mating occurs. These swarmers, called alates, then shed their wings and begin a new colony.
These alates, or flying termites, are often confused with flying ants. However, ants and termites each have distinctive features and can be easily identified. A winged termite has a straight body with no waistline. They have 4 wings of equal size and their antennae are straight. The flying ant has an hourglass shaped waist and their antennae are bent in the shape of an elbow. They have four wings but the first set is much larger than the rear wings. Following these identifying traits, even the novice should be able to identify whether you have flying ants or swarming termites on your property.
It would be worthy of mentioning that flying ants also need to be investigated. The carpenter ant goes through the swarming process as well as the termite. They are also destructive and damaging to wooden structures. The difference is that a carpenter ant does not eat wood like that of a termite. However they destroy the wooden structures by burrowing inside the wood and create galleries and nests.
The presence of swarmers does not necessarily mean you are infested with termites. Again, their function at this stage of adult life is to fly to another location, mate, shed wings and start a new colony. They could have simply been in flight and stopped to rest. What must be determined is if the termites swarmed to your house or from your house. If they are swarming from your house, you may have a problem with internal infestation and will need professional treatment. There is less concern if they are swarming to your property and are on the outside of the house. Swarming termites are not wood eaters. Their job is reproduction of new colonies.
However, finding swarming termites inside the house is not the most reassuring sight. One or two in the house could be as simple as flying through an open door or riding on the back of an individual. It is only when large numbers of swarmers are found inside the house that you have something to be concerned about and will need to contact a local pest control company. Keep in mind that swarmers are evidence that there is a nearby colony so to be safe, a professional termite inspection is always a good idea.
Prevention is always the best and least expensive avenue to follow. Fortunately, there are several things homeowners can do to help prevent termites from taking up residence in your home. While termites cannot be eradicated or controlled with home remedies and do-it-yourself methods, you can be proactive in preventative measures.
Termites must have moisture to survive. Eliminate or reduce moisture in and around your home. Repair any leaking faucets, water lines and drain lines. Don’t overlook exterior air conditioning units when inspecting for moisture.
Repair or replace any poorly functioning gutter and downspouts to properly divert any water away from the foundation.
Make sure your landscaping is such that there is natural drainage and no low spots close to any buildings that will allow standing water or excessive moisture.
Thoroughly inspect the exterior of the home and look for any points of entry through which termites can gain access. Replace worn or torn weather stripping and repair any loose mortar joints.
Caulk and seal any cracks around windows and doors.
Inspect the foundation, looking for any mud tubes, as these are tunnels and a pretty obvious sign that termites are traversing back and forth into your home.
Store firewood at least 20 or more feet from the house and make sure there is no contact between the soil and wood structures.
Schedule annual routine inspections from professional companies like Action Pest Control.
Action Pest Control has been serving residential and commercial clients since 1946 and has now grown to eight branch locations with more than 120 professionally trained employees. Most people have no idea that termites are actively destroying their home as these destructive pests work from the inside out. Action Pest Control offers a five step Termite Control System to give you the best termite control and termite protection available. With their system you will receive a very comprehensive inspection. In the event of a presence of termites, Action Pest Control will treat your home with Termidor, America’s number one termite defense product. You will be given a 3 month termite elimination inspection as well as an annual inspection. All of this is with a money back guarantee and a damage warranty.
Action Pest Control is not just about termite extermination. More importantly, modern termite pest control is vital in preventing a reoccurrence of these destructive pests. Their termite control professionals are highly trained and have the knowledge and experience to be able to uncover and expose any threat of these wood-eating pests.
< Previous Next >