Truth About Termites
More than 600,000 U.S. homes suffer from termite damage
totaling over $5 billion annually, compared to $2 billion spent
on the costs due to fire damage.
More than 2 million structures require termite treatment each
year. Homeowners insurance can help recover losses from fires,
floods andearthquakes, but it is almost impossible to get insurance
Finding out your home has termites scares most homeowners. You
typically can’t see them, you can’t hear them, and frequently only a
trained inspector can find signs of infestation. Treatment by the
homeowner for the control of termites is virtually impossible.
Specialized equipment is essential and the experts have the
knowledge necessary for the effective control.
A trained termite control specialist can provide protection from termite infestation.
Termites are found in almost every state as well as Mexico and parts of Canada.
They eat wood and many also destroy paper products such as books, cardboard boxes,
furniture, family heirlooms, and various other items. Even building with steel framing and
masonry walls are targets because of the wooden doors and window frames, wooden
support beams, cabinets or shelving. To learn more about how we can help your situation,
call a trained professional today at 804-358-2995.
Know your Enemy
There are more than 2,000 species of termites, 70 of those that invade wooden structures regularly enough to be considered pests. The most damaging are roughly 20 species we call “subterranean” termites, because of their living and foraging habits. Two of these, the Eastern Subterranean Termites and Western Subterranean Termites, are by far the most common, widest distributed and most damaging in the U.S.
Eastern and Subterranean termites feed on cellulose, a complex chemical in plant cell walls and are very important in the natural decomposition of fallen trees, leaves and other plant products. Subterranean termites build their colonies in the soil, trees, poles or even houses, and they rely mainly on soil for moisture unless there is a moisture source in the structure such as condensation, leaking pipes etc.
Subterranean termite colonies are considered large (60,000 to 1.5 million termites), and are made up of several “castles”, each with distinct functions and behaviors. These include reproductive’s (the queen, king and winged swarmers), soldiers, and workers. Worker termites are small (0.1-.025 in. long) creamy-white insects. Soldiers are larger (.02-.04 in. long) and about 1/20th as numerous as workers and have a large, dark head with long, strong, sharp pointed jaws that they use to attach intruders. Property owners seldom see the worker or soldier termites, but in the spring or fall, depending on the species, they may see swarming “winged reproductives.” This form of termite can easily be confused with a winged ant unless you look closely.
“Swarming” Spreads Termites”
After a termite colony reaches a certain population level, usually more than 10,000 for northern temperate subterranean termites, winged (alate) reproductive “swarmers” are produced and leave the colony in a “swarm.” A swam is a mixed group of roughly half male and female reproductives, which leave the nest together in a short period of time. Usually triggered by rain the Spring, warming temperatures and lengthening days, swarms commonly occur around dusk or dawn.
After landing, a female breaks off her own wings, raises her abdomen and emits a pheromone which attracts males of her species. If a suitable male finds her, they touch each other, and he breaks off his own wings. The pair then “run in tandem” for a short time before searching out a suitable piece of week in which to begin a nest. Their first brood soon takes over the colony maintenance and food gathering, and the queen reverts to only producing eggs. The pair are mated for life and the queen can produce roughly 1,000 eggs per day by her fourth year of life. If either the king or queen dies, other members of the colony can change into reproductives and replace the lost member of the pair.
Do Not Enter
Subterranean termites live mainly in the ground. They search for wood farther and farther from the center of their colony as their numbers grow. Foragers may make underground tunnels or above-ground “shelter tubes” of mud, feces and debris that are used to search for new food sources and to connect their feeding sites to the soil. They can enter a building without direct wood contact with the soil through such tubes. Termites can enter buildings through cracks, expansion joints, foam insulation below ground, hollow bricks, concrete blocks, or through spaces around plumbing as narrow as 1/32nd of an inch. Any building, whether constructed with a slab, basement or crawl space foundation, can be infested by termites.
Hurricanes Affect On Termites
The hurricanes of 2005 have had various impacts on termites and the damage they caused structures in the effected areas. These effects and their significance may vary from house to house, depending on exact local situations and termite species involved.
Although a few termite populations may have been drowned if they were completely under water (especially brackish water) for several days or weeks, most of them are likely to have had many survivors. Those survivors can now thrive on the widespread, wet or very moist, and more exposed (mostly untreated) wood that is readily available throughout most hurricane-effected areas.
Interior structural wood of many buildings may have become soaked, and could take a long time to dry, making a much greater amount of wood available for termites to quickly and easily infest. A lot of repairs have been done with whatever wood was available, and most of that was not pretreated to prevent or reduce wood destroying insect (WDI) infestations. Buildings, which were physically moved even a short distance from their former foundations or slabs are now sitting above or contacting untreated soil (including untreated backfill), which may make them much easier for termites to infest.
Termite infestations which had been under treatment by baits before the hurricanes may now be released from such treatments. Some baits may have been washed away, or the termites and infested wood have been relocated away from remaining baits, while some baits may have not been services for the past couple of months.
Tell Tale Signs of Termites
Possible signs of a termite infestation may include:
• Pencil-sized diameter, or larger, mud tubes running across bare concrete or masonry between the soil and
any wooden part of your building.
• Thin, small, papery wings, all the same size and shape, 3/8 – ½ in. long, on your windowsill, counter top
or floor (especially if it is late Spring and there has been recent rain).
• Thin, “bubbled” or distorted areas of paint on wooden surfaces which feel cool to the touch.
• Any wooden building parts (especially if they are support structures) that begin to “sag” unexpectedly.
Some Termite Trivia
• The total weight of all the termites on Earth is estimated to be much greater than the total weight of all
humans on Earth.
• Several species of “higher” termites (e.g., Macrotermes bellicosus) raise their own fungi, inside their nest,
as a food source.
• Termites communicate mainly via chemicals called pheromones, but the majority of species also strike
their heads against the sides of their nests, tunnel walls or even their own thorax. Variations in
frequency and pattern of such “tapping” seem to constitute “messages” which seem to be understood by
(at least elicit responses by) other colony members.
• One species of termites in Australia, Amitermes meridionalis Frogg, build large flat mounds up to 4m. tall,
called “compass mounds” which are always oriented with narrow ends pointed North-and-South and
the large flat sides facing East-and-West.
• Termites can eat holes in vinyl pool liners, and even penetrate PVC pipes where those have been joined by
Our services include, but are not limited to:
- Long-Term Termite Control
- Prevention Treatments
- Senior Discounts
- Termite Baiting
- Termite Certificates & Reports
- Termite Inspections
- Wall Injections
- Warranties & Guarantees