Eastern subterranean termites are the species of termite generally in encountered in Warwick and throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. These termites can wreak havoc on the structural integrity of a building and cause thousands of dollars worth of damage over time. The potential for termite damage is moderate to heavy (classified as TIP Zone #2) in this area according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Termite colonies create castes, or social groupings, so that each individual termite has its own job function. Groups inside an eastern subterranean termite colony include soldiers, workers, and reproductives. The reproductives can then be subdivided into queens, kings, and secondaries.
• Soldiers are equipped with a tube-like protrusion (fontanelle) that traps enemies. They possess dark mandibles and large, yellow heads. Soldiers are ¼” and do not grow wings.
• Workers have off-white or grey bodies. They have hard mouthparts and a round, hard head. Workers range from 1/8” to ¼” and are wingless.
• Reproductives are dark-brown or black. These termites have wings and grow to be between 3/8” - ¼”,
Termites prefer matter that contains cellulose such as paper, insulation, wood, cardboard, etc. They also consume plant roots, mulch, and stumps. Microbes in the termite’s stomach produce the enzymes responsible for digestion, allowing them to easily consume these materials.
Eastern subterranean termites construct underground nests that contain passageways known as tubes. These tubes are essential for their livelihood as they enable them to maneuver and also provide protection. Termites also build outdoor nests inside of stumps and other locations that contain rotting or compromised wood.
PROBLEMS WITH TERMITES
More than $5 billion in damages to homes across the United States are due to termite infestations. Many homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover the destruction caused by termites.
Generally, the affects of a termite infestation are not discovered until the damage is great, as it is produced from the inside out. Termites can cause the destruction of beams, walls, cabinets, documents, furniture, etc.
Living in colonies, termites are social creatures and each carries out a particular role. Workers, for example, use most of their time to search for food, and can canvas a full half acre of land.
Soldiers defend the colony against ants, which are the termites’ main enemy. Pheromones and vibrations that are colony-specific are used to signal soldiers to the presence of ants.
When a new colony is ready to be established, the king and queen will take to the air and swarm around the home. It is possible for there to be thousands of termites in one swarm.
Termites, themselves, do not carry disease. However, as a result of chewing wood often found in dark and damp areas, termites may be capable of releasing mold spores into the air. Illnesses stemming from mold include asthma, hives, eye infections, problems with memory, along with various fungal and skin diseases.
SIGNS OF A TERMITE INFESTATION
• The existence of mud tubes around the foundation of the building is a sign that termites have settled a colony.
• Termites carry their own scent, and when a termite infestation is suspected, it will be accompanied by a mildew odor.
• Wood that sounds hollow can be an indication of a termite infestation. Since termites “chew” from the inside out, the wood will still look normal on the outside.
• Look for tiny holes in drywall where termites can exit and enter.
• The presence of a swarm outside the home is not only obvious because it can be thousands of termites swarming at once; it is also a good indicator of an infestation.
• Ill-fitting floor tiles are a possible indication of the presence of termites.
• Peeling paint should be inspected for signs of mud tubes and tiny exit and entry holes.
• Any sagging or bending drywall should be investigated for the presence of termites.
Annual termite control inspections performed by a trusted local exterminator are the most successful method for preventing termites. During the rest of the year, home and business owners can avert an infestation by following these tips:
• Plumbing and other service lines entering the home or office building should be tightly sealed.
• All standing water on the property should be eliminated. Termites are attracted to rotting plant material and moisture, so also ensure that downspouts, splash blocks, and gutters are all in good working order.
• Any leaks in the basement or in other areas of the home should be handled immediately.
• Make sure that all vents are free of debris, that is, they are not blocked by dead leaves, plants, or dirt.
• Never store firewood against the foundation of the building.
• Use as little mulch around the home as possible.
• Wood siding should not be adjacent to the ground. There should be a six inch gap between the soil and the siding.
• Keep a good working humidifier running in the basement to prevent moisture buildup.
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 Warwick area homes and businesses with all of their termite prevention and eradication needs.