If you own a home or commercial building, termites should be on the top of your list of wood-destroying pests to worry about. Due to their potential for destruction, you need to know as much about termites as you can in order to protect your investment.
Subterranean termites typically swarm in February, with large numbers of winged reproductive termites appearing inside and outside of structures. In nature, winged reproductive termites swarm to start a new colony. The warmer temperatures and rainfall cause the winged termites to emerge from the colony and fly into the air. Once they find a suitable area, they land, shed their wings, pair off with a mate and start a new colony.
How to know if I have a termite infestation
Seeing winged termites is usually the best way to determine if you have a termite infestation. However, winged termites are often confused with winged ants, which become active at the same time of the year. Here are some ways to tell the difference:
- While both species have four wings, termite wings are all the same size and the ants have noticeably larger wings in the front as compared to the hind pair.
- Termites have almost straight antennae, while ant antennae are elbowed.
- Termite wings are twice as long as their body.
- Because of their thin waist, ants appear distinctly segmented, while termites have the appearance of a broad waist.
Termites are attracted to light and can usually be spotted around windows and doors. Look for winged termites taking a flight out in your yard, around wood piles and tree stumps. If you see flying termites come out from under your foundation wall, patios or porch, then there is a good chance you have an infestation and will need treatment.
The presence of dirt tubes (mud tubes) on the foundation walls, support piers, sill plates, floor joists or slabs is another excellent way to tell if the structure is infested with termites. These dirt tubes act as a road and provide cover for the termites as they travel back and forth from their underground colony into the structure.
Damaged wood along the grain is another sign you have a termite infestation. You will find the wood has been hollowed out and see signs of dried mud or soil inside the hollowed wood. If you find small pieces of soil around plaster and drywall, or you notice sunken or rippled wall coverings, this might be an area where termites are living.
Outward signs indicating a termite infestation are not always evident. Termites prefer the dark and are very stealthy, so they can go unnoticed for years feeding under your floorboards, behind walls, behind insulation, under your foundation, etc. Even if there are areas in the structure where the wood is exposed, you may not notice termite activity. In fact, termites are so elusive that even a trained professional may not be able to see evidence of damage or infestation. However, it is advised to hire a trained professional to determine if termite activity is present within the structure.
Choosing a Termite Control Company
In choosing a pest control company to treat your structure for termites, make sure the company is licensed by the Department of Agriculture or agency responsible for regulating termite control in the state where you reside. Membership in their state pest control association and/or pest management association is a good indication that the company is able to have access to current technical and training information needed to conduct the job safely and correctly.
It is suggested that you call at least 2-3 companies and request an inspection and estimates for treatment. This will help verify the existence of a termite problem and allow you to compare services. Don’t be shy about asking for references as they will be invaluable in choosing the best company to treat your structure. Companies offer different types of treatment methods and warranties. If termites return, most will retreat the affected area(s) at no additional charge.
Methods for Treating Termites: Liquid and Baits
There are many different types of termite treatments available to homeowners, so how will you know which one is best for your structure? This decision should be made carefully, following careful research of the options recommended by your trusted termite control specialist.
Each structure is unique, so treatment should be customized accordingly. By working closely with your termite specialist, you can develop an appropriate and effective termite treatment plan for your structure. The most common termite treatment options are Liquids and Baits.
Soil-applied liquid termicides have been used for decades. They provide a long lasting chemical barrier to control termites in the ground and prevent them from entering the building. In most cases, the termites in the walls of the structure die off as well, since they cannot return to the soil. Non-repellent products are proving to be reliable in their ability to resolve termite colonies.
They control termites for five years when applied according to the label directions. The actual length of control on a given structure will depend on such factors as thoroughness of the application, environmental conditions and density of the termites in an area. If termites swarm again and continue to be a problem the year after the treatment, it is usually not from degradation of the termiticide, but from the termites finding an untreated gap in the chemical barrier.
Termite baits consist of paper, cardboard and other palatable food, combined with a slow-acting substance lethal to termites. The baits can be installed below ground out in the yard in cylindrical plastic stations or above ground near/within the mud tubes. Foraging termites consume the bait and share it with their nest mates, resulting in a gradual decline in the termite population.
Regardless of which method or product is selected, it’s important to have a licensed, experienced technician, backed by a responsible pest control company. Contact Pest Management, Inc. to schedule an inspection of your property.
Additional Termite Information
Many people don’t realize until they have a termite problem that termite damage to your home or business is much more frequent during a drought. When water becomes scarce, populations move into areas where water supply is readily available, which generally means closer to people.
Once your termite situation has been dealt with, it’s important to take preventative measures to protect yourself from termites. Protecting your new home from termites is also important to preserve the integrity and value of your home.
Learning about the lifecycle of termites is valuable to protect your home from their damage. A queen termite can live for 25 years and produce over 18 million offspring. Dealing with termites before they cause structural damage is important to preserve the value of your property investment.