All About Termites – Termites are hardy creatures. They have been around for about 250 million years. They probably aren’t going anywhere soon. However, you can get rid of them if they are causing your wooden structures damage.
Table of Contents
- Some Basic Facts about the Different Types of Termites
- A Quick Guide to the Signs of Termites
- Termite Droppings In Your House
- Helpful Tips For Termite Prevention
- Termite Prevention In Your Home
- Pest Control Options
Some Basic Facts about the Different Types of Termites
Although they might all look alike, and they certainly seem to do about the same amount of damage, there are actually different types of termites. Basically, there are three major types of termites that live and survive in the United States. Understanding what they are and how they live can help you when it comes to getting rid of them.
1. Drywood Termites
The most common types of termites in the United States are the drywood termites. These like to live above the soil. You can typically find them in wooden structures like furniture, trees, and houses.
Once they have gotten situated and taken up home, they can cause damage to the wooden structures that they live in by eating at the wood and weakening it.
Unfortunately, you might not notice the damage for several years. Sometimes, too much damage has already been done to the structure by then and it might be difficult to repair it.
2. Formosan Termites
Formosan termites are fairly new to the United States. They originated from Eastern Asia and therefore prefer subterranean climates. You can mostly find them in the southern states, where they like to cause damage to forests.
They were first brought over from Asia in military supplies after World War II. For the past decade, workers have been trying hard to control the termite population in the southern states so that forests do not suffer as much damage.
3. Ground Termites
Lastly, ground termites like to actually live inside the soil. They then make tunnels up to the surface of the ground so that they can eat on nearby pieces of wood. Sometimes, the colony can reach to about 130 feet in order to get wood pieces.
Ground termites are one of the most aggressive types of termites. They can eat up to 15 pounds of food a week. Most of the damage done to wood in the United States is done by the ground termites, or so pest control experts say.
All of the different types of termites live in social communities that are very structured. These social units, or colonies, usually have soldiers, kings and queens, and workers. The worker termites take care of the young termites and see to the general maintenance of their living quarters.
The soldiers, on the other hand, are responsible for defending the colony from threats. The king and queen are both needed in order to start the colony. They scope out the new surroundings and help produce the workers and soldiers.
Even though the various types of termites can cause a lot of damage, they are also needed for the earth’s ecological system. Termites break down dead wood and dying trees and provide nourishment for different insects and small animals. They also assist in ventilating the soil so that the soil is able to regenerate itself and so that foliage is able to grow on it in the future.
A Quick Guide to the Signs of Termites
It is important to learn what the signs of termites are because termite infestation is a common problem. These insects can infest a home and destroy the house’s structure before you even realize that you might have a termite problem. For this reason it is important that you rid your home of termites at the first sign that they are in residence.
Termites do have an important natural role in the scheme of things but they are an ugly bug that can do a lot of damage to your home and other wooden structures. One of the main roles that these insects play is that they help to recycle rotted wood into the environment.
When looking for signs of termites in your house you have to know that there are a couple of different types of termites. One type is known as dry wood termites, and then there is the subterranean type.
The subterranean type of termite is prevalent all of the US; you will most notice these insects during the spring and fall when they are swarming. These termites look a lot like flying ants, and can be found in hard to reach places, especially under cement.
This species of termite prefer moist areas where they create their own safe environment with mud tunnels that lead to wood so they can eat.
The two main signs of termites for this species will be the flying swarms and the mud tunnels; the best places to look for these mud tunnels are in crawl spaces and basements, under porches and decks. Look for signs of termites anywhere where it moist.
The dry wood termites are seen in dry desert regions such as Southern California. This is a larger species of termite and they can be found in the wooden structure of houses, barns, dead trees, etc. The dry wood termite has a red colored head, darker body and grayish wings.
Signs of termites of this type will leave little rounded piles of grainy like wood around places like windowsills, doors, and anywhere there is woodwork. This is the insect fecal matter containing wood they have been eating.
You may also see the insects wings after they have shed them, and during the season when they are flying you may see them around ground areas where there are fallen dead trees, and around windowsills. The termites are getting ready to feast on the wood in your home, if they have not already been doing this.
If you detect signs of termites of either species, you will want to contact a professional exterminator to check for termite damage.
Although there are some, do it yourself treatments, getting rid of termites should be done by a professional that knows how to best get rid of these bugs, if you let them continue eating the wood in your home you will end up with some serious damage. If you do try and exterminate the termites on your own, make sure you follow instructions for safety, plus do a follow up
In some regions of the United States it is almost a necessity to have regular treatments for termites by pest control experts, such as in the southern regions, as well as the dry southwestern regions. If you see any signs of termites you can be sure that there are many more termites than what you are seeing, and there may even be a great deal of damage.
Although termites are a problem, they can be controlled but it is necessary to be vigilant and catch them before they can damage your property.
Termite Droppings In Your House
Termite droppings in your house are something you would probably rather not come across. On the positive side, termite droppings may be the only visible sign that you have a possible infestation. On the negative sign, a trail of droppings may be an indication that serious damage by the little insects has already been done.
Since termite droppings resemble bits of sand or sawdust, it’s unlikely you’ll spot then outside the house. A trail of termite droppings on open ground will blend in with the dirt and soon either be disturbed or washed away. Inside the home, a trail of droppings on the floor is much easier to detect.
Plenty Of Termites To Leave A Poop Trail -Termites congregate in swarms, at times there can be thousands in a swarm. A colony of termites is similar in many respects to an ant colony in which there will be a queen, soldiers, and workers. There is also a king, whose job is to fertilize the eggs the queen lays.
A queen termite can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day. If a reasonable percentage of the eggs hatch, there’s a good chance that the emerging termites will eventually be of a sufficient number to leave behind a visible trail of termite droppings. Termite droppings have a name – frass.
Termite droppings are sometimes the only indication that a house is infested until a ceiling starts to sag or some structure gives way. Sometimes, small piles of sawdust will be an indication as well.
Termites spend almost all of the daylight hours roaming in underground tunnels, or in tunnels they have made in wood and timbers. They may venture out in the dark in search of water or vegetation. Being blind, the darkness is of little problem to them.
1. Keep Clean
Keeping the house and yard shipshape is a good way to prevent a termite infestation. Like many insects, junk, clutter, excessive vegetation, and crack and chinks in the outside of a building, can be an open invitation for termites to take up residence.
Once a colony, even a small one, becomes established, the only recourse may be to hire a professional exterminator. When dealing with termites, it’s best not to cut corners financially, as a failed effort to nip the problem in the bud may turn out to be huge expense later.
2. Keep Dry
Homes in some parts of the country are more prone to termite infestation than homes in other locations as climate, especially humidity, can play a significant role. Termites are especially fond of damp wood, and a damp area in a house or building is usually most susceptible to a colony of termites setting up housekeeping.
Sealing damp basements and repairing leaks in roofs or those caused by faulty plumbing, can go a long ways towards keeping termites at bay.
Keeping mulch and vegetation away from foundations, and checking the outside of your house for small cracks, large enough for a termite, can also be beneficial.
Termites will usually not travel long distances over open ground in the daylight in search of shelter, though during the summertime one can often see them flying about in swarms at dusk, often pairing off to mate, and seeking a crack or crevice in a building for the purpose of setting up housekeeping.
If you have a fireplace, don’t sore the firewood close to the house, or close to an outbuilding. Firewood can be stored inside a building if the area is dry.
Termite droppings are not considered harmful to humans in any way. The droppings are in fact a rich source of magnesium, a mineral important to our health.
If one has a deficiency in magnesium, a spoonful of termite droppings would probably be beneficial, though most of us would opt for taking magnesium supplements instead.
Helpful Tips For Termite Prevention
It is important to keep up with termite prevention whether you live in a new home or it is one that you have been dwelling in your whole life. A colony of these pests can do a significant amount of damage to your home, nibbling away at the beams that are holding your house together.
Termites are a huge factor of home destruction and cause over $1 billion per year in damages. A single termite colony can contain 350,000 up to 1 million workers. The queen termite has the ability to lay several thousand eggs a day and she can live up to 50 years. This is why termite prevention is so crucial.
Conditions Termites Love
Before looking at your options for termite prevention, you may want to understand what attracts them to your home in the first place.
Termites are subterranean which simply put, means the ground is where they choose to build their colonies. They create tunnel systems to a depth of three feet below the surface. They will feel on any material in your home that has cellulose in it and wood contains a lot of it. Even if only a beam is touching the ground, they will find it. Lastly, they love water; this includes leaky faucets.
Termite Prevention In Your Home
Termite prevention can quite honestly, save your home. Fixing any water leaks in your house is important. Eliminating any water sources takes away a requirement they need to survive. If you have any brush around your house you need to clear it away. Also, if you have firewood or building wood laying around, it should not be stored by your home. If you have no choice, then keep it up on metal slabs of some sort.
Mulch is a touchy subject in termite prevention. Of course you want to mulch your flower beds around your home but mulch provides a water and food source to hungry termites. Rubber mulch is a good recommended alternative to use around your home and it looks like wood. It may be a bit more expensive but so is termite damage.
If you have any old stumps or dead trees in your yard they need to be removed. Termites are attracted to them as they decay. When they are done feeding on the tree, they will start feeding on your home.
Termite prevention to the exterior of your home includes keeping gutters clean of debris and sealing and cracks in the foundation. It is important to make sure that everywhere in your home is well ventilated, including your attic. This prevents moisture build up.
Pest Control Options
If you have followed termite prevention procedures and these pests sill start munching on your home you can try and use either liquid termiticide or subterranean bait.
1. The Liquid Termiticide
The liquid termiticide will be applied around your home and under the foundation. There are some options on the market that act as a repellant that are helpful in new construction job sites as well as those that poison nerves and kill the exposed termites.
2. The Subterranean Bait
The subterranean bait works to eliminate the termite colony from its source. Bait is set around your home and these units get checked once a week. If there are termites found then a toxic bait is put in the place of the original bait. This poison acts slow and allows them to carry it back to the colony and spread it to other termites before dying.
A key element in termite prevention is having your home inspected once a year. Early detection can save a lot of damage from occurring to your home at a later time.