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In all honesty, you don’t have to know a whole lot about termites to know they can be extremely destructive pests. You’ve likely heard plenty of horror stories about these pesky little insects gnawing through wooden structures. While you’ve probably heard plenty of these stories, it is highly unlikely that you know everything you need to know about these pesky pests. As a matter of fact, it would be hard for us to say that we know everything we need to know about termites. As a professional pest management provider, we are learning exciting and innovative things about these borers every day. This information only helps us in our battle against this insect and we are more than willing to pass on what we know.
Even if you don’t intend to tackle the termite infestation yourself, you still need to know how to determine you have a problem as well as how to proceed. These are all things we are more than willing to help you accomplish. There’s a lot to learn so it’s best to go ahead and get started.
What Exactly Is A Termite?
Most people think they know what a termite is and they might have a good idea, but did you know that it is the cellulose in the wood that actually attracts these pests. It’s not the actual wood, rather the cellulose. They are insects that prefer to live in dark, dank locations like the foundation of your property. If left unchecked, these pests can do an immense amount of damage. The termite is a small, pale soft-bodied insect that resides in colonies constructed of several different caste systems. They typically build their colonies underground, but some species will take up residence in wooden structures.
Think of the caste systems of the colony as the hierarchy. It’s how everyone knows their role within the colony. Just as an example, the worker termite is responsible worker-like roles within the colony, whereas the soldier termite will be responsible for the safeguarding of the colony. Things can, of course, get a little more complex than this, but this is just a quick example.
How Do You Know If You Have Termites?
Regardless of what you know about termites or what you learn, it will be detecting them that will be the most important. The first step in prevention or elimination is to always be on the lookout. Despite what you might believe, these pesky pests rarely emerge from the soil, mud tubes, or their food source where they are likely tunneling. This is one of the major reasons that most people don’t know they even have a problem until things have gotten terribly out of hand. Most people don’t see the infestation until they spot swarmers or inadvertently come across the damage that’s already been done.
Either way, either of these scenarios is not good. As difficult as it might be, the key is to detect the problem as early as possible. It would be best to detect it before it becomes a problem. Some of the ways you can do just this are by constantly examining and probing exposed wood. Be on the constant lookout for hollow spots. You can always give the wooden structure a little rap with the knuckles and listen for hollow sounds. Learning to properly identify termite swarmers is a good idea as well. While they do appear similar to the flying ant, some distinct characteristics make them different.
Ants have front wings that are longer than the rear wings
Their antenna is bent at a ninety-degree angle
Termite’s front and rear wings are equal in size
The termite antenna is straight and may have a slight droop or sag to it
Maintain A Termite Prevention Plan
As important as it is to learn to detect termites early, it’s just as important to maintain a termite prevention strategy. This is something we are always and more than glad to assist with. However, there are things you can do by yourself. In fact, our office suggests you getting involved because there is only so much, we can do from our end. Termite elimination and detection take cooperation from both sides of the fence. Here are some things you can do.
Immediately after construction, keep the soil around the foundation dry by utilizing proper gardening and draining techniques (Maintaining gutters and downspouts will be key here)
Reduce or eliminate all openings in the structure in which termite could get in (cracks and crevices around the foundation and utility openings
Fix any water leaks you have immediately
Keep all your vents free from blockages, including plants and shrub
Trees or shrubs should never be plated too close to the foundation. Ones that are should be removed immediately. The trick is to keep them out of contact with wooden parts of the home
Firewood should be properly stored, sufficiently enough away from the home. Usually, 20 feet from the building and 3 to 5 inches off the ground (do not pile it right next to the house, even if you plan on using it immediately)
Inspect periodically to make sure termite colonies have not been established in wooden structures
Divert rainwater and runoff from guttering system away from the home
Never leave unscreened windows and doors unattended when open
Types Of Termite Treatments
Once termites are on the property, you will have to eliminate them to proceed further. Putting a preventive plan in place at this time won’t do any good. You’ll first need to remove the infestation and then put a preventive plan in place. This being said, there are a variety of ways to go about eliminating termites from the property. Non-chemical treatments are usually put in place during the very early construction stages. These usually consist of physical barriers, constructed of steel mesh and sand. Biological control agents like nematodes and fungi have also proven effective, although they are extremely rare and have only been tested in controlled laboratory settings.
Chemical pesticides termites are available and can be sprayed around the property. Doing so will usually require the evacuation of residents from the property for several hours. These types of treatments might also require more than one application. The most common type of treatment available and the one we utilize more than others are the conventional barrier treatments. These are treatments that are applied to the soil and should only be conducted by trained, licensed professionals.
Improperly conducted barrier treatments like this could cause immediate contamination of the home and surrounding drinking water wells. They also will fail to offer the adequate protection needed. Therefore, it is always best to confer with a specialist when considering these treatments. Termite baits are another widely used treatment available today. These systems have been introduced to reduce the use of pesticides and insecticides because of their potential environmental and human danger. We usually combine these systems with cellulose baits that do contain a slow-acting insecticide.