Termites have been given the nickname "silent destroyer" for good reasons. Operating in the dark and largely out of sight, the subterranean termites that are commonly found in Bristol and throughout the Northeast are capable of causing wholesale destruction.
Because of their behavior and preferred habitat, it is easy for subterranean termites to spend their entire lives without being seen by humans. Too frequently, this means that a termite infestation is allowed to continue for several years without anyone being aware of it. By the time a problem is suspected, it is too late to prevent massive structural damage. Costly and time-consuming repairs are needed before the structure is once again safe to occupy.
With preventative measures and regular termite inspections, it is possible to protect any property from termite damage. These infestations are widespread throughout Pennsylvania, so the chances of an infestation are unfortunately high. An inspection by a licensed termite technician is the best way to diagnose the problem before too much damage has been done.
Within subterranean termite colonies, each individual has a specific role to fulfill. The role each individual plays is identified by their appearance. The rarely seen workers are tiny, perhaps one-eighth of an inch in length, and they are a creamy white color. Soldiers have similar coloring, but they are distinguished by their larger size. About one-quarter of an inch long, soldiers also are differentiated by their yellow heads and prominent jaws. The colony also has a king and queen that are responsible for reproduction. The colony's "swarmers" are part of the same group. All of these individuals are black or brown and have a pair of wings. The swarmers may break away to begin additional colonies.
Unlike other wood-destroying insects, termites actually do get nutrition from wood. Primarily, it is the cellulose in the wood that provides the termite with its nutrition. Cellulose is found in other common construction products as well such as sheetrock, siding, fabric and paper. Termites like damp conditions, so any wood or other cellulose-containing items that are perpetually wet are particularly vulnerable to their appetite.
Eastern subterranean termites earn their name because of their need to live underground. Easily dried out by the elements, remaining below the ground surface allows them to retain the proper level of hydration. Mud tunnels are constructed to convey individuals from the nest to their food source. Frequently placed near a rotting tree stump or a building's foundation, the nest is in an ideal spot for providing an ongoing source of food.
Each termite colony may contain anywhere from 60,000 to one million members. Accordingly, the need for a massive food source is clear. With their habit of remaining underground, it also is easy to see how infestations may continue unabated for several years.
PROBLEMS WITH TERMITES
Subterranean termites are responsible for various types of damage to Bristol homes and businesses each year due to their tendency to feed in out-of-the-way places and to use mud tunnels for travel mean that they are able to escape notice for extended periods. Such damage includes replacement of joists and structural beams, floors, walls, windows, doors and other items that commonly sustain termite damage during an infestation. On rare occasions, the structure is unsafe to occupy, necessitating the removal of the occupants until the repairs are complete.
Termites are social insects that live in enormous colonies. Workers are responsible for tasks such as building mud tunnels and nests and collecting food. The soldier is mainly responsible for defending the nest against intruders like ants. Because they are not capable of feeding themselves, they depend upon the workers to accomplish this task. The king and queen are responsible for reproducing in order to perpetuate the colony. Among their offspring are the swarmers, which also are able to reproduce. In the spring, the swarmers fly up in huge numbers to pair off and mate, perhaps establishing a colony of their own. Frequently, seeing a winged termite swarm is the first indication that people have that an infestation is underway.
Termites are not known to spread illnesses to people, and bites are rare occurrences. However, termite activity is known to generate dust and debris. When these impurities are taken into heating and ventilation systems, they may enter the air inside the structure. People with respiratory ailments like asthma and allergies may notice that they have more frequent and severe attacks when a termite infestation is ongoing.
SIGNS OF A TERMITE INFESTATION
Signs that may indicate a termite control problem include:
• Swarms of flying termites seen just outside or even inside a building
• Piles of wings that have been shed near foundations or on floors
• Mud tunnels seen on or close to foundations
• Termite droppings, also called frass, located close to or within structures
• Walls that appear to bow
• Floors that show signs of sagging or buckling
• Hearing hollow sounds when tapping on walls
To help protect against termites the following precautions should be taken:
• Prevent wood on structures from contacting the soil
• Eliminate areas on the property that collect water or are perpetually wet
• Repair water leaks as soon as they are discovered
• Use only wood that is painted, stained or pressure-treated on the property
• Seal or cover up all openings and cracks in building exteriors
• Place yard debris piles and woodpiles well away from structures
• Keep downspouts and gutters clear
• Completely remove tree stumps when taking out trees
It is most common for termites to find food in basements and crawlspaces. They are extraordinarily adept at avoiding human notice with their underground tendencies and use of mud tunnels. Accordingly, by the time someone actually notices that their floors are buckling, the infestation has probably been going on for years.
Termite inspections can be completed relatively quickly and easily. A trained, licensed technician visits the property, going into all of the places like basements, attics and crawl spaces where property owners rarely go. Each technician has learned all that there is to know about termites, their behavior and the signs of an infestation. This enables them to accurately identify the problem so that treatment can begin without delay.
For the past 20 years, SafeGuard Pest Control has been assisting Bristol area residents with all of their termite prevention and eradication needs.
SafeGuard Pest Control, LLC is a leading pest control provider and can assist homes and businesses with successful termite extermination while helping to prevent future termite infestations.