Termites cause millions of dollars in property damage every year across the U.S. This elusive pest is capable of causing extensive destruction to any Bucks County home or office before the property owner is even aware that there is an issue. Regular inspection by an experienced termite control company can help to prevent most of these problems.
Termites frequently are mistaken for ants because of their similar size. However, certain characteristics do differentiate the two species. Ants have a narrow, pinched waist whereas the termite waist is straight. Termites and ants both may have wings, but the termite's two pair of wings are of equal length while the ant's two pair of wings have different lengths. Additionally, termites have straight antennae while there is a joint in the antennae of ants.
The main component of the termite's diet is cellulose. This substance is widely found in plant life, and it is most definitely present in wood. It is the wood in buildings that frequently attracts these pests. However, they also may eat paper, siding and drywall, causing even more extensive damage. Some types of wood may be more susceptible to termite damage than others, but this pest is not particularly selective.
Most termites in Bucks County are subterranean termites, which means that their nests are built underground in the soil. They construct elaborate systems of mud tubes to provide the colony with access to food and water. Remaining underground is key to the survival of the colony. Termite workers easily get dehydrated, but the damp conditions in the soil prevent moisture loss.
PROBLEMS WITH TERMITES
The most critical problem posed by termites is their voracious appetite for cellulose. Once a colony finds a ready source of food, they become increasingly successful. Reproduction increases, and what may have started out as a small infestation can quickly become catastrophic.
Termites are responsible for multiple thousands of dollars in structural damage to homes, offices, barns, sheds and other outbuildings every year. Unfortunately, much of their destructive tendencies go unnoticed by property owners because of their subterranean behavior. Experts sometimes refer to termites as "silent destroyers" thanks to their ability to cause wholesale destruction before their presence is even detected.
Termites attack any wood, plant or paper products. This puts a wide assortment of building materials at risk. Occasionally, people have found that their home is unfit for occupation until extensive repairs are completed. When caught early, termite infestations are not so severe. However, this means that it is crucial to work with a certified termite inspector on a regular basis and to take steps to discourage termites from invading.
Termites are highly social insects. Accordingly, they live in large colonies that observe a strict caste system. This gives each member of the community a specific role to play. Reproductives include the king and queen as well as many swarmers. These winged reproductives may be spotted near windows or lights as they swarm, usually in the spring. If a swarm is spotted close to or inside a building, it is all-but guaranteed that an infestation is under way.
Soldiers are rarely seen since it is their responsibility to protect the nest from other insects. Workers are the colony members that dig the mud tubes and cause the most destruction to buildings. They eat the cellulose-based material that they find or carry it back to the nest for others to consume.
Termites are capable of changing caste depending upon the needs of the colony. Thus, a colony that is reproducing in great numbers may need additional workers to ensure adequate food.
Scientists have found no evidence to suggest that termites transmit any diseases to humans. They are capable of biting and stinging, but such attacks are rare and generally not dangerous. Still, a termite infestation can have negative health effects. People who have allergies or asthma may experience an exacerbation of their symptoms as heating and ventilation systems spread dust and other irritating particles in and near termite nests. Additionally, people may have allergic reactions from exposure to termite droppings or saliva. Reactions such as these have the potential to be dangerous. Medical attention is recommended.
SIGNS OF A TERMITE INFESTATION
Termite control may be necessary if the following signs are present:
• Swarms of flying insects congregating around windows or light fixtures
• Drywall that droops or is discolored
• Buckling floors
• Patterns on walls, floors or furniture that look like mazes
• Wood that is crumbling or otherwise appears damaged
• Mud tubes on a building's foundation
• Loosened tiles on walls and floors
Termite problems may be avoided by implementing the following preventative measures:
• Do not allow rotting trees and stumps to remain close to buildings
• Remove yard debris from around foundations
• Do not let trees and shrubs touch roofs and exterior walls
• Promptly fix roof and gutter leaks
• Maintain plumbing systems to prevent leaks
• Seal holes and cracks in foundations
Termites are notoriously elusive, making it imperative to be proactive. As such, termite inspections should be scheduled regularly.
Home and business owners suspecting that their property is experiencing a termite issue should contact an experienced termite exterminator rather than trying to deal with the problem themselves.