Termites 101: Getting to know the Pests in your Home
Lets talk termites. When it comes to these insects the average person doesn’t seem to know much about them. People tend to know that they can cause severe damage to the foundation of a home but that is where their knowledge seems to stop. And while yes, they can cause thousands of dollars in damage, there is still much more to learn about these tiny insects and just how harmful they can be.
At Sigma Pest we refer to these pests as the silent destroyers. While one alone may not be all that menacing, an entire colony of termites can cause serious structural damage to a home in a very short amount of time. They get the name “silent destroyer,” from their ability to chew through flooring, wood, and even wallpaper without detection.
Termite populations are always in search of a new structure to invade. When they first emerge from the ground they send explorers, also known as swarmers, in search of habitats that will be perfectly hospitable to their species. These habitats are usually homes or buildings that have sustained damage from heavy amounts of rain or snow that are undetected by home owners.
The swarmers that go out in search of their ideal dwelling look very similar in appearance to a flying ant, which makes it very common to dismiss their presence within your home. This is a HUGE mistake. Once swarmers determine that your home is now their perfect home, their colony will soon begin to follow.
With about 2,000 known termite species in the world it is easy to fall down the rabbit hole of termite FAQ’s. However out of those 2,000 species, there are only five that pose a threat to homes in the United States
What Termite is Your Type:
While the end result of a termite infestation is always the same, it is important to know just what type of termite you are dealing with.
Subterranean termites can be found in every state within the U.S. except for Alaska. This type of termite lives in underground colonies or in moist secluded areas above ground. They build distinctive tunnels, also known as mud tubes, to reach their food source and stay protected from open air.
The Subterranean variety are known to cause the most damage out of any of the termite species, because all they do is eat wood 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their saw-tooth like jaws help them bite of small fragments of wood one piece of a time causing critical structure damage and sometimes even building collapse.
The Formosan species, also referred to as the “super termite,” originated in China, and are the most aggressive and cunning species of termites. Operating with three distinct caste levels, this species organizes themselves into large underground colonies where they work to build intricate mud nests within the walls of a structure.
Because of their aggressive nature, once a structure is infested with Formosan termites it is very difficult to control their spread. While not as common as Subterranean termites (remember these can be found anywhere except Alaska,) Formosan termites are limited to a much smaller region consisting of, Virginia, Hawaii, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, North Carolina, California, and South Carolina.
As you can probably infer from the name, the Dampwood infest wood that has a high moisture content. Unlike Formosan termites that have a three level caste system, Dampwood termites have no worker caste. This means that the nymph (the beginning stage of development where the insect has no wings), take care of the kings and queens within the colony and feed the solider caste.
Because this type of termite is not likely to infest a structure itself, it is important to focus on the areas around your home or buildings to prevent the possibility of them finding their way into your home. These termites are drawn to high levels of moisture so it is important to eliminate possible sources of excess water. Commonplaces to find this species are leaky faucets, water pipes, and AC units. Once these areas are infested it won’t be long before they make your way into your home.
It is also extremely important to divert rain water away from your home work to properly ventilate attics, basements, and crawl spaces to avoid attracting Dampwood termites into your home.
Unlike the three other types of termites we’ve talked about, Drywood termites infest dry wood versus areas with high moisture. This species creates their nests in roof materials and within wooden wall supports, and can even infest dead wood that can be found around your home. They can also be found in attic framings and can be transported from place to place through an invested piece of furniture or a picture frame.
Although Drywood termites to not require as near as much water to thrive, they can be found in wood near a water source, for example a water or leaky pipe. These termites can be found mostly in the southern United States, ranging from Virginia all the way to the Gulf Coast.
Conehead termites, were first introduced to the United States in 2001. This invasive species is native to the Caribbean and were originally called tree termites, but were renamed to avoid the misconception that this species of termites is only found in trees.
Unlike most termites, conehead termites do not rely on underground tunneling to travel from place to place. Instead, these termites forage on the ground like ants which allows them to spread quickly. Similarly to Formosan termites, conehead termites are extremely aggressive and are known for causing widespread damage to property in a short period of time.
Termites are an extremely destructive pest that cannot be eradicated with do-it-yourself measures. These pests, cause more than $5 billion in property damage each year within the United States. And the damage that termites cause is a cost that is not typically covered by homeowner’s insurance.
In order to proactively prevent these devastating pests, you should schedule annual professional termite inspections for your home. If you suspect a termite infestation on your property, we are here to help! At Sigma Pest we use integrated pest management which gives us a holistic approach to all your pest control needs. We will send one of our skilled pest professionals to determine the extent of the problem and develop an appropriate treatment plan customized to your home. Give us a call today!