Across Pennsylvania, termites are a devastating pest. This is because the state's climate is well-suited to the termite's requirements. Plus, infestations are too frequently allowed to flourish in the dark, which means that they grow and spread to adjoining properties and structures.
Although there are hundreds of diverse termite species, it is the Eastern subterranean termite that most commonly infests homes and businesses in Levittown. Property owners cannot be too cautious when it comes to protecting themselves from an infestation. Regular inspections are recommended to catch new infestations before extensive damage has been done and to prevent such infestations from occurring.
As their name suggests, subterranean termites rarely are seen above the ground. Experienced pest control professionals are nonetheless able to spot the signs of an infestation so that treatments to stop the problem may be undertaken without delay.
The role that an individual termite plays within the colony may be deduced from the pest's appearance. Rarely seen worker termites are tiny at just one-quarter of an inch long. Their cream-colored bodies also make them distinctive.
Similarly, soldier termites spend most of their lives underground. Though they may be cream-colored like the workers are, soldiers are equipped with larger jaws so that they may defend the colony. They also may be distinguished by their brownish heads.
Swarmers, or alates, are equipped with two pairs of wings, unlike the other wingless members of the colony. Growing to as much as one-half of an inch, swarmers are capable of reproduction. In the spring, these dark brown or black termites fly up to mate and establish new colonies.
Termites are infamous for their habit of eating wood, but this is not the only component of their diet. In fact, the termite's only nutritional requirement is cellulose, a material that is a basic building-block of all plants. Accordingly, any item that contains cellulose may become a suitable termite food source.
Cellulose is common in many building components such as structural joists, floor and wall frames, siding, sheetrock, shingles, window and door frames and carpets. Smaller items that are found within buildings also may contain cellulose. Books, clothing, towels, sheets, furniture and a variety of other household goods all may be partially consumed by termites.
Termites rarely nest within human habitations, though this may occur. Instead, they prefer underground nests that are excavated in soil. These nests ideally are located close to a food source. Termite biology dictates that they not unnecessarily expose themselves to outside elements, as this causes their bodies to dry out. Living underground helps them to maintain the optimal amount of moisture. When termites need to travel between the nest and a food source, they typically do so via mud tunnels that the workers have constructed for this purpose.
PROBLEMS WITH TERMITES
Each year, property owners across Levittown are forced to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to repair the damage that results from a termite infestation. This damage can be particularly widespread and destructive because subterranean termites tend to operate in dark, out-of-the-way places where people rarely go. Basements, crawlspaces, attics and the places beneath floors or behind walls are particularly vulnerable.
Frequently, termite damage is not noticed by the average homeowner until it has become catastrophic. Buckling floors, sagging walls and stains that look like water damage but are not all are common signs of a long-standing infestation.
It may be possible to effect repairs while the property continues to be occupied, though this does represent significant inconvenience. Even worse are the situations in which the structure is so extensively damaged that it is no longer safe to occupy. This means that the occupants must find somewhere else to live or work until the damage is repaired.
The best way to avoid such extreme circumstances is to have the property regularly inspected for the signs of termite activity.
Most of the termite life cycle is all-but invisible to the average person as it takes place underground. The notable exception to this rule occurs in the spring, typically March through May, when the swarmers emerge.
These winged, reproductive members of the colony fly up in great numbers, sometimes adjacent to or even inside a structure. They mate, shed their wings and establish new colonies, often quite close to the original colony. With the potential for a well-established colony to produce hundreds of swarmers in a single year, it is clear that these infestations quickly can get out-of-hand.
Subterranean termites are not associated with the transmission of illnesses to people. Nonetheless, an infestation of these pests still may have a detrimental effect on human health.
If a person inadvertently disturbs a termite nest, then they may be subject to the bite or sting of soldier termites. Such attacks may result in a painful wound that swells, itches and burns, though it typically is not dangerous.
Termite infestations may be a major concern for people who have asthma or allergies. This is because termite nest-building and food-foraging activities release tiny particles of soil and wood into the air. Occasionally, these particles are picked up in heating, air-conditioning and ventilation systems, contaminating indoor air quality. The result is increased symptoms for people with respiratory conditions.
Further, termite waste products, known as frass, may cause an allergic reaction if they come into contact with human skin. Termites also are known to exacerbate mold problems within buildings. This is because they prefer the warm, damp environments in which mold also thrives. As termites travel from place to place, they spread mold, allowing it to establish itself in new locations. People may suspect that they have a mold problem if they are troubled by symptoms such as burning eyes, sore throat, cough and headache.
SIGNS OF A TERMITE INFESTATION
Indications of a termite problem include:
• Mud tunnels close to or on foundations
• Buckling floors, walls or ceilings
• Swarms of black, flying insects in the spring
• Piles of shed wings after a swarm
• Increases in asthma and allergy symptoms
• Frass and sawdust piles around the property
• Paint bubbling up on surfaces
To help prevent termite issues the following tips can be taken:
• Establish yard debris piles and woodpiles 20 feet away from structures
• Do not allow wood to touch the soil
• Replace damaged or rotting wood
• Identify and repair all holes and cracks in foundations and walls
• Fix water leaks as soon as they are discovered
• Treat, paint, stain or seal all wood on the property
• Refrain from using hollow-block foundations
When left untreated or when improperly treated, a termite infestation can be financially and emotionally devastating. This is why regular termite inspections are the key to homeowners protecting themselves.
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 Levittown area homes and businesses with all of their termite inspection, eradication and prevention needs.