Termites -2Termites form social colonies and separate the work amongst the different castes of members within a termite colony.  Termite colonies will have nymphs, worker termites (ones that look like yellow to whitish maggots), soldiers and reproductive termites (swarmers that emerge from the nest once a year).  When a termite colony is at full capacity, it can have several million termites.  Termites will search for food sources and feed primarily on wood materials from dead plants and trees and homes.

What is a termite?

Termites are small insects that eat wood for its nutrients.  When looking at wood that has been eaten, these insects look like small whitish coloring maggots.  Just as the case with most insects, termites have six legs and a three part body.  Termite workers are the most prevalent in a termite colony.    The termite’s diet is only wood and other items that contain cellulose materials.  This is why homes are a key food source for termites.   

How do I know if I have termites?

Because termites can go unnoticed for several years, detection is not that easy.  If early in the spring, several thousand termite swarmers appear inside or around your home, there is a very good possibility that you have termites infesting your home.  Termite swarmers are produced when the termite colony has reached maximum capacity and is budding off to start a new colony.  Another possible sign that you may have termites are mud tubes coming up from a slab floor or up a basement wall.  A common area to find mud tubes is in garages where the slab meets the foundational block wall.  This areas over time usually develops a crack and this is how termites find their way into a home.  Termites only need a small crack, anywhere from 1/32” to 1/64” of an inch to find their way into your home in search of a food source, i.e. wood.  Finding termites in the early stage may be difficult.  That is why it is important to have your home inspected annually for termites.   

How much damage can termites cause to my home?

Termites cause billions of dollars of damage to homes and property every year.  They infest several million homes and buildings each year.  Because of the way that termites feed, they can go unnoticed in your home for several years.  If termites go unnoticed, they can be causing damage to wood behind walls, in crawl spaces and basements.  Early detection is key to controlling and eliminating termite colonies around your home and property.  It is important to note that most homeowner’s policies do not cover damage to your home caused by termites.  Because of the lack of insurance coverage, most homeowners have to spend money out of pocket to make costly repairs to their homes because of the damage caused by termites.  Remember, termites are feeding on the wood 24 hours a day 7 days a week.    

What type of termites should I be concerned about?

In the North East, the most common termite is the Subterranean Termite.  This species of termite builds colonies in the soil just a few feet above the water table line.  Although the Subterranean Termite lives in the soil, they feed on wood sources that are located above the ground.  Worker termites eat the wood by excavating the wood that creates galleries in the wood that typically will follow the grain of the wood.  It is easier for the termites to feed with the wood grain.  The galleries that are created are lined with layers of the soil that the termites bring up from the ground.  This mud liner helps the termites travels as they eat the wood and maintains the humidity level within the wood. 

Can I prevent termites from entering my home?

There are several key items that should be removed or corrected that can attract termites when in search of food sources.  We refer to these items as conducive conditions that termites need in order to survive.  The key thing that termites need is moisture.  As a homeowner, you want to reduce high moisture conditions that may accumulate around your home’s foundation.  You want to divert water sources, drainage lines, clogged gutters that do not allow proper drainage and standing water around the foundation.  Another thing that homeowners can do is to reduce the level of humidity in basements and crawl spaces (ensure adequate and proper ventilation).  Remove old stacks and piles of wood that are near are stacked near the home.  Homeowners should also remove old dead tree stumps, rotten wood and root systems from the property.  As a general rule, you want to remove and avoid any wood to earth direct contact.  This is the easy way for foraging termites to find their way into your home, detached garage or structures.  

What is the difference between liquid termite treatments and termite bait treatments?

Termite Liquid Treatment

The use of termiticides for treating termites has be common practice for well over 50 years.  The main objective of a termite treatment with a termiticide is to create a continuous barrier around a structure so that termites cannot penetrate through the chemical barrier.  The goal is to create a total and uniform coverage around and beneath a structure that the termites cannot penetrate.  Any termite that tries to penetrate into the structure that comes into contact with the termiticide will either be repelled or killed.  This methods was the standard treatment practice until termite baits were introduced into the termite control and elimination market.    

In order to perform the application of termiticides to a structure, the foundation needs to be drilled.  Holes approximately half of an inch need to be made in hollow blocks and slabs in order to apply the materials within and below the concrete.  Performing liquid treatment requires a lot of knowledge about how structures are constructed.  The reason why construction knowledge is critical is to avoid critical areas (water pipes, gas pipes, heating vents and other items) that if drilled through, can cause severe problems. 

A typical termite treatment with the use of a termiticide may require a few hundred gallons of finished product.  This material is then pumped beneath the slabs, with the foundation concrete walls and into the soil.    

Termite Baits

The use of termite baits is a different approach to treating termites.  Termite baits are designed to kill off the termite colony.  These systems are designed to provide the termites that are foraging for food with a cellulose food source into their feeding sites.  Once this new food source is introduced and accepted, a termite insecticide is introduced that as the termites feed will kill off the colony. 

The key factor for a successful termite baiting program is the ability of the termites that are foraging for new food sources.  The foraging process will allow the termites to become exposed to the toxic bait that will ultimately kill off the termite colony. 

It is important to note that for termites to feed and find the termite bait stations will depend upon a variety of factors.  Factors such as the time of year, the temperatures, moisture levels and how heavy the termite foraging pressure is around a home (how may termite colonies are around the home).  Worker termites that are foraging for food sources will typically increase during the latter winter months and early in the spring.  Another important factor is the level of moisture and ground temperature.  

When installing termite stations around a home, they are spaced out, flush mounted and opened for inspections with a specialized bait station tool. They cellulose and (active bait if needed) are not accessible to pets or children. 

So where liquid termite treatments are a repellant type of treatment, with termite baits, when the termites feed on the bait and take it back to the colony and share it, the termite colony is eliminated. 

Termite monitoring stations will detect termites that are foraging for food sources and that may invade your home.  Termite monitoring and bait stations will protect your home and property from termites and provide continuous monitoring for new termites that are foraging around your home.  The stations are checked for any new activity every few months to detect early signs of termite activity.