Panic frequently is the first reaction when a home or business owner discovers that they may have a termite infestation. This is because termites are among the most destructive pests, sometimes costing property owners thousands of dollars in repairs.
This damage often occurs due to the habits and behavior of termites which permits them to remain mostly below ground, and therefore are able to go undetected for prolonged periods of time. Accordingly, damage may become quite extensive before property owners are even aware that there is an issue.
Routine inspections by a pest management professional are the best way to ensure that any property is safeguarded against subterranean termites. Homeowners who believe that an infestation is underway are encouraged to contact an exterminator with all possible speed. Doing so may mean that it is possible to stop an infestation in its early stages.
Each subterranean termite in the colony has specific responsibilities to perform. These responsibilities determine the pest's appearance. Worker termites, which rarely are seen, typically are cream colored and measure only one-quarter of an inch long.
Soldier termites also have cream-colored bodies, but their heads usually are brown. Moreover, their jaws are oversized, an adaptation that enables them to defend the colony against attack.
Termite colonies also have alates, or swarmers, that have two pairs of wings. Generally, their bodies are dark brown or black, and they may grow as large as one-half an inch long. Their only responsibility is to mate and establish new colonies.
This is perhaps the best-known characteristic of this pest, though misunderstandings still persist. Most people know that termites eat wood, but their dietary habits are not restricted to this item. Instead, termites get their nutrition from the cellulose that is found in all wood and plants.
In fact, cellulose makes its way into many construction components and common household items. This means that when a termite infestation is underway, things such as books, clothing, carpets, draperies, towels and furniture may be just as vulnerable as sheetrock, siding, roof tiles, the building's frame, window and door frames and structural joists.
People sometimes are surprised to learn that termites typically do not nest within manmade structures, although this can occur in rare instances. Instead, termites prefer to excavate nests in loose soil. The nest preferably is located close to a food source like a tree, wood pile or human habitation. This location is essential because most termites are not designed to be exposed to outdoor elements. They must construct mud tunnels from the nest to the food source so that they do not dry out in the open air.
PROBLEMS WITH TERMITES
When termite infestations are at last discovered, it is not uncommon for property owners to have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on repairs. In rare circumstances when the damage is particularly widespread, the structure may not be safe to occupy until the repairs are complete.
Many people are surprised by just how extensive and devastating termite damage can be. This largely is attributable to the termite's underground habits. Also, this pest tends to cause the most destruction in out-of-the-way places like basements, crawl spaces, wall voids and attics. Dark, dank and little visited, termites are free to wreak havoc in these places without being noticed.
Occasionally, the homeowner does not know there is a problem until the signs of damage are impossible to miss. Buckling walls and sagging floors are almost certain signs of a termite problem as is the appearance of a mark that looks like a water stain that appears without a leak having occurred.
It is wise not to wait until the damage is this extensive to take action. The best method for ensuring that termites are not present and that they stay away is hiring a pest management company to perform regular inspections and treatments.
Termites rarely make their presence known to property owners until they have already been on-site for several seasons. Then, approximately between March and May, the swarmers emerge to mate and establish new colonies.
This may be the first sign that homeowners have that a problem is underway. Swarms typically occur outdoors, but it is not unheard of for some of the swarmers to emerge indoors. With a cloud of flying insects either just outside the structure or inside it, the termites' presence becomes impossible to overlook.
The swarm flies up from under the ground before pairing off to mate and establish new colonies, some of which may be quite close to the existing colony. It may be possible for a colony to produce hundreds of mating pairs each spring, which only demonstrates how quickly an infestation can become out of control.
While subterranean termites are not known to spread specific diseases to people, this does not mean that they are not a threat to human health.
Soldier termites are capable of biting and stinging. Attacks against people are rare, but if someone accidentally disturbs a nest, then they may be the victim of numerous wounds that itch, burn and swell. Typically, medical attention is not required to treat these.
People who have allergies, asthma or other respiratory issues may be adversely affected by a termite infestation. As termites build their nest and forage for food, they inevitably release tiny particles of soil, wood and other dust into the air. These all become irritants to people with respiratory problems, and it is not unusual to experience a significant increase in symptoms while the infestation continues. People with such conditions who experience greater than usual symptoms may want to have a termite inspection performed.
It also is worth considering that termite waste products, which are known as frass, can be responsible for an adverse allergic reaction in some people, especially if the frass comes into contact with human skin.
Additionally, termites may make existing mold problems more severe and widespread. This occurs because termites like a warm, damp environment, which are precisely the conditions that encourage mold. Termites carry mold spores as they travel, causing the problem to grow.
SIGNS OF A TERMITE INFESTATION
Termite control may be necessary if the following signs are present:
• Apparent water stains where no leak has occurred
• A massive swarm of flying insects in the spring
• Mud tunnels discovered on or close to foundations
• Piles of sawdust and frass indoors or out
• Sagging ceilings, floors or walls
• Noticeable increases in respiratory problems
Termite problems may be avoided by implementing the following preventative measures:
• Do not use a hollow-block foundation
• Ensure that all wood on the property is painted, stained or treated
• Do not allow wood to contact the soil
• Place wood piles and yard debris piles at least 20 feet from structures
• Cover or fill all holes and cracks in building exteriors
• Repair or replace all damaged or rotting wood
When termites are suspected, the best course of action is to call in the experts at SafeGuard Pest Control. Our technicians are licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and are certified Termidor exterminators.
As certified Termidor® exterminators, our technicians are skilled and trained in applying this and other products known for effective termite control, by infecting and killing termites as they come in contact with the termiticide and then spread it to other members within the colony.
For nearly 30 years, SafeGuard Pest Control, LLC has been assisting Bucks County area homes and businesses with all of their termite control needs.