Termites can cause thousands in undetected, non-insurable damage.
Too many people make the mistake of thinking about termites only when they are buying or selling property. While the presence of termite damage is a valid concern during real estate transactions, it is wise to be vigilant against termites at all times.
Subterranean termites, which is the species that is most common in Bensalem, largely spend their lives underground and out of sight. This adaptation enables them to escape the notice of people either until an accidental encounter occurs or the damage caused by the termites becomes so severe that it is noticeable even in the occupied parts of the structure.
The best prevention against a termite infestation is to schedule routine property inspections that are conducted by a licensed pest control exterminator. Such inspections look for vulnerabilities in the structure that may admit termite activity while also looking for the signs of a new termite colony. Accordingly, these issues can be addressed before significant damage occurs.
If an infestation already is underway, the inspection will uncover this, making it possible to treat the problem before it becomes severe.
Termite colonies consist of three castes. Members of each caste have an appearance that suits their role. The rarely seen but numerous worker termites are only one-quarter of an inch long. With cream-colored bodies, they are almost never seen above the ground's surface.
Soldier termites are slightly larger, but they have the same cream-colored bodies. Their brownish heads and oversized jaws further distinguish them from workers. Soldiers use these jaws to defend the colony from predators.
Winged alates, which also are called swarmers, are the reproductive members of the colony. They are differentiated from other colony members not only by their wings but also by their brown or black coloration and their length, which may be up to one-half of an inch. These are the colony members that mate and establish new colonies.
Most people understand that termites eat wood. However, their dietary preferences are more varied than that because the substance that they require is cellulose. Cellulose is found in all plants and trees, which means that anything that contains some kind of plant product is vulnerable to the termite's appetite.
Consequently, termites not only eat things like support joists, wooden building frames, siding and sheetrock but also books, clothing, towels, sheets and furniture.
Termites rarely nest within the structures from which they gain sustenance. Instead, they nest underground within the soil. Loose soil is best because it is easier to excavate, and termites also seek appropriately humid conditions. Ideally, the nest is located close to a food source, which may include a rotting stump, fallen tree, woodpile, fence or other manmade structure. It is imperative that the termites choose a location that is relatively close to a food source because they cannot tolerate exposure to the elements. Accordingly, they must construct mud tunnels that take them from the nest to the food source.
PROBLEMS WITH TERMITES
Subterranean termites spend the vast majority of their lives under the surface of the soil or in places that people rarely go like basements and crawlspaces. This behavior enables them to forage for food, largely undetected, perhaps for years.
A successful termite colony may have multiple thousands of members. When one colony becomes too large, it splits into satellite colonies. Each colony produces reproductive members, and the population in each multiplies. This means that the nearest available source of food, which may be a home or office, soon is riddled with damage.
Frequently, termite damage appears similar to water damage. This may mean that floors and ceilings appear swollen or that walls or pieces of wood are buckling. It also is not unusual to see maze-like patterns in furniture or on pieces of exposed wood.
When it is extensive, termite damage is costly to repair. Some households are forced to spend thousands of dollars addressing multiple issues. Even when the damage is more contained, the repairs and their associated expenses are a headache. Moreover, if the infestation has been allowed to continue for years, the infested building may be structurally unsound.
Subterranean termites lead an underground lifestyle. This means that they can escape peoples' notice easily. In fact, termites may be present on a property for two or more years before any obvious signs are seen.
Between approximately March and May, the alates of a well-established colony instinctively swarm. This behavior is impossible to ignore as hundreds or perhaps thousands of mating pairs take to the air. Swarms that take place adjacent to or inside a manmade structure indicate an ongoing infestation that would be wise to address.
After mating, the alates shed their wings, leaving behind piles of evidence of their presence. They go off to establish new colonies, frequently not far from their original colony.
Otherwise, termite behavior goes largely undetected by people. Most of their lifecycle is spent underground, and they construct tunnels of mud, feces and saliva if their work would take them out into the elements. It is behavior such as this that can make termite activity difficult to identify to all but the most well-trained eyes.
In general, subterranean termites do not transmit illnesses to people through things like bites and stings. Still, it is not unusual for termite infestations to have an adverse effect on human health.
Termite bites do occur, though usually only when a person inadvertently disturbs a nest. Rarely dangerous, these wounds may itch, swell and burn but typically resolve themselves.
People whose homes have a termite infestation are far more likely to experience an increase in asthma, allergies and other respiratory problems. This is thanks to the tiny dust and dirt particles that termites release as they tunnel into cellulose-containing items. These particles are picked up by heating, cooling and ventilation systems where they detract from indoor air quality.
Additionally, some people have an adverse reaction to termite waste products. Known as frass, these waste products may cause an adverse reaction when they come into contact with skin.
Mold problems also may be exacerbated by termites, as these pests are attracted to the warm, damp conditions in which mold thrives. As termites move between a food source and the nest, they mold problems travel with them.
SIGNS OF A TERMITE INFESTATION
Evidence of a termite presence include the following signs:
• Damage that looks like water stains • Swollen floors or ceilings • Buckling walls • Swarms of black, flying insects • Mud tunnels on foundations • Increased severity of respiratory symptoms
To help avoid termite issues the following precautions should be taken:
• Locate and remove all damaged or rotting wood • Eliminate holes and cracks in building exteriors • Keep woodpiles and yard debris piles 20 feet away from structures • Prevent wood from touching soil • Treat, paint or stain all wood on the property • Replace hollow-block foundations
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 Bensalem area homes and businesses with all of their termite eradication and prevention needs.