Have you met the “silent destroyer”? If not, do not wish that you would. When you speak of the silent destroyer you are referring to insects that are popularly known as termites.
Termites are insects that are a constant nuisance to home and commercial areas. It is a eusocial insect that is accepted as part of the cockroach order of the Isoptera, just like cockroaches, having these termites in your house is anything but inviting.
The Good and the bad
In a large scale, termites play a huge role in the ecosystem by breaking down dead wood and cellulose materials. These tasks help balance nature. However, when these insects attack your homes, that’s a different ballgame that we do not want them to play.
Most of the time, a lot of swarmers or winged termites emerge from their homes. This is the time they go out, spread and start to found new colonies. The reason for this behavior is because of the warmer temperature as well as increase in rainfall.
Getting to Know the Termites
Every year, termites have attacked homes and cause huge billion structural damages to residences annually. These pests have been with us since time in memorial, as old as the time dinosaurs existed and their colonies are known for their non-stop eating 24/7 and love to shed their wings where they finally find a place where they start build their nest.
Termites are a group of insects that clandestinely lives, hides and thrives in a home or a yard. They are detritivores who love to feed on dead plants, wood, cellulose-based plants. Their mouth can tear through pieces of wood. This is the alarming ability that causes a lot of concern when it comes to the house.
Termites maybe small, however the term “small but terrible” greatly applies to them. The fact the can chew wood, these can cause structural damages in the house’s foundation. The termites feeding habits allow it to eat and gnaw books, furnitures and even walls of you of your house.
Types of Termites
There are many types of termites. The first type is the subterranean termite who lives in mounds of soil underneath the ground. Similarly to an ant they often dig elaborate underground mud tunnels in order to access the food that they get above-ground.
The other type is the drywood termite who are living inside the wood that they eat. Oftentimes, they are found in household furnitures and walls.
There’s also the Drywood Termites that also eat wood and wallpaper, but in addition to that they also include, plastics and plant-made fabrics in their diet. Then there’s also the formosan termite that has the same diet as the Drywood termite. But as they eat dead trees, they are simultaneously helping nature to assist it in giving way to a new plant life.
Before you determine how to get rid of them you must first know what do termites look like? If you have seen pictures of termites you would see that they look like almost ants that is why people often call them white ants. But termites and ants are definitely not related.
If you look at termite pictures more closely you will see that these insects have two parts – mainly its head and its bottom part while ants, on the other hand, have 3 parts.
People often dismiss them as simply ants that they go ignored. Yes ant and termites may look alike in many ways, there are still other differences.
Ants have a very distinctive waste while termites do not have that shape, in fact they are more tube like in nature.
Flying termites’ wings are equal in length, while the flying ants’ four wings have two different sizes.
Finally, what makes these two species different is that the ants’ antennae can bend while termites antennae are simply straight.
The caste and their responsibilities
Despite their physical differences, ants and termites have similar abilities and habits like they produce generations of overlapping species, they love taking care of their young as a group, and like ants, bees and wasps, termites have their respective caste system that allows them to divide the different tasks of their colony.
By nature, termites are socially gifted insects that this caste system is so organized that it has individual characteristics. The first group in the caste is known as the Royalty. In each colony of termites, has king and queen termites that play a vital role in the exponential growth of their respective colonies in which they join in a mating swarm of reproductive. When you talk about a swarms of termites, it includes both male and female reproductive species that has wings and are dark in color.
The second caste in the colony belongs to the soldier termites that ensure that the colony is protected at all cost. Because of their responsibility they are created with huge mandibles for defense and ensure the safety of the colony from its predators like ants and the soldiers’ mandibles help these type of caste to feed themselves. Heroically, these soldier termites would die for their colony by staying outside of their home if ever there is a breach in it.
The last type in the termite caste system is the worker, they are task to feed the colony and repair whatever damage that occurred when predators have breached their home.
Determining termite infestation
How will you know if you have termite infestation? There are many signs of termites damage that will help you determine if your home has termite infestation is if you are aware that there a swarming termites that are flying about in your home or if these said flying termites come out from the soil that is surrounding your house.
Check the sound of your wooden fixtures and walls, if they sound hollow when you tap them, then chances are there termites in your home.
If you have seen some termite pictures, these insects love to discard their wings from swarmers or crawl in walls and wooden crevices. And similarly to silverfish bugs, you would see termite droppings from where they usually go. With these clues, your house has a possibility that is is already invaded by termites.
Treating Termites by Yourself
There are several diy termite treatment you can do. Here are some ways on how to kill termites:
1. Do a cardboard trap by wetting some flat strips of cardboard. Since they like cellulose, chances are these termites will be attracted to that cardboard trap that you have made as it is a perfect termite bait.
As soon as these insects are drawn into these spot traps that you created, bring it to the place where you can safely burn it. You can do this lot of times but a fair warning, it may not totally eradicate your termite problems but it will be able to help you get rid of a lot of them.
2. Since termites feasts also on wooden furniture, one way of killing them is to place the infested wooden piece for 2-3 days under the sun. These wood-eating insects thrive in dark places, by exposing their home to the sunlight’s heat and light perse these termites can be killed by the said exposure.
3. Another way of eliminating these insects is placing parts of the wooden piece of furniture in a huge freezer where they can fit. These parts are best left for 2-3 days. This guarantees the termites’ death.
4. Buy termites control products as termite-baiting control products or alternatively use the liquid termite-killing product. Place and use these baiting items and spray them in infected areas.
There are several approved treatments that can be used to eliminate these pests among them are termite baits, wood treatments, materials that have termiticides in it and liquid soil applied termiticides.
But if you decide to use termite control products do this with caution as termiticides if improperly used may cause contamination in your home. Ask experts what to choose and be aware of the different active ingredients it has.
For added safety, check the label directions in the products, see if it passes the current safety regulations of your country when it comes to protecting both your health and your surrounding.
Most termiticides tend to be very high on toxic that is imperative that you read the label directions on it for extra precaution.
5. If you’re not sure if your house is infested or if you want to determine how much damage they have done and want to end it all, you might like to consider having an expert opinion by having a termite inspection from the exterminators.
Get some information about termite inspection cost and services from competing firms. Check their company record and what others say about them. Draft and let them sign an agreement wherein that you need complete termite extinction for the next two years and have them give you a sort of warranty, that they will periodically check and clear you homes from new termite infestations without cost.
6. When it comes to non-chemical treatment you may use a physical barrier, steelmesh, nematodes and fungi in places where you see termite infestation.
Prevention is the key
There are several ways to prevent your house from having these termites.
1. Make sure that your house is dry. Just like silverfish bugs they too like habitats that are damp and moist. They do not drown in water, in fact they need it to survive. Check and fix all leaks as much as possible for this is one way to acquire more water and invite termites to thrive in that damp area.
2. Sweep away all unnecessary water you see around the house, as well as empty wet gutters with debris, water, leaves and other things that may be a way to make termites breed freely.
3. As much as you can, try to remove food sources like wood from these termites. If you cannot avoid having wood in your home, try to at least cover them and make sure they stay dry.
4. Just like any other pests in your home, try to seal spaces and cracks in your house. It is an initial step to prevent these nuisances from infesting your property. Gaps around the house include pipes, doorways, electrical wiring and the likes.
5. Aside from having experts check your houses do your own inspection like making sure these cellulose materials, wood and water flows are all directed away from your house’s foundation. Speaking of your house’s foundation make sure it is exposed around the house. Ensure also that your basement is relatively dry.
6. Ensure that wood found in your home is not directly in contact with soil. Make sure that they are at least 6 inches above it.
7. Try to lessen the use of wood mulch when it comes to your house’s foundation
8. Since poor ventilation is one way that provide termites both crawling space and needed water supply for its survival, it is better that 75% of your vicinity’s soil surface is covered with vapor barrier made polyethylene sheeting.
9. When you use the vapor barrier in the ventilation, try to have at least a square foot of vent opening for every 300 – 500 square feet of the termites’ known crawl area.
10. Improve and increase the cross ventilation and make sure you remove all vegetation covering in these vents.
11. Always check if there are cracks and joints that may have termite infestation.
12. Never build flower planters against your homes.
13. Place trellises and make sure your houseplants do not have contact with the main house.
14. Ensure that plants both in and just outside your house are trimmed and do not reach the exterior of your homes.
15. For mulches that are in direct contact with your house’s siding, kindly remove them as soon as possible.
16. Do not install any Polystyrene foam board insulation that is below its grade.
Aside from causing household property damage annually, these termites are like silverfish bugs that can cause more irreparable damage especially if it starts chewing your beloved books and paper documents. These termites are so destructive that do not cause damage in houses and building but they also hurt the trees and other plants as they are now known as the woody plants’ secondary invader.
So if you need to eradicate those termites, try to use the different method presented but also keep in mind to always be careful.
Termite Control Basics
How to Choose the Right Method and Person for the Job
Having your house infested by termites is definitely something that you need to address immediately. However, in choosing the right method and deciding the right person to get rid them entirely, remains a question mark.
Before deciding what to do and who’s who? You have to be oriented first on information about your “enemy” that you want to exterminate.
What are termites? Well, termites are basically winged (and sometimes wingless creatures) that love to chew on wood and cellulose. Wings? Yes, wings. Do termites fly? The answer is yes. In fact, they shed them once they have a new and better place to live in build their nest. Most people only think of termites as wood dwellers, but they are wrong, these insects can fly that even makes them more of a menace.
To give you a ball park of the damage that these pests usually costs they annually damaged around $ 5 billion worth of building structures. A scarier trivia is that if you combine all the weight of human beings against the weight of all these termites, these weigh more than us. That’s how many these pests are.
Termites are often dismissed because of how they look. Generally, termites are mistaken as ants. Well they look like ants in appearance, but unfortunately they cause more damage than you think because they have stronger mandibles. They also differ from ants by having a straight than bended antennae, and that their wings are all equal in looks.
These pests have existed in the world since the dinosaurs were around. While they do help the ecosystem in one way or the other, we still cannot remove the fact that more often than not, they are more of a nuisance than of a help.
Every year these pests damage property that costs billions of dollars and are often hurting wooden plants because of their non-stop,24/7 hour chewing of food.
Scary right? You should. To learn more about termite protection we must first learn the different types of termites that we need to look into so that we would know how to address it.
The subterranean termites are termites that have three adult castes namely the reproductives, the workers, and soldiers. Their colonies may reach up to 2 million members. Technically, l they are 1 / 8 “ to 1” in size, has a creamy brown color, have 6 legs, mostly winged termites that are narrow, elongated and oval in shape. These termites love to feasts on fabric created from plants, plastics, wallpaper and wood.
One of the most noticeable characteristic of these type of termites is that they create their own mud tunnels that are mixed with fecal matter and saliva. These tunnels are the various entry points for these types of termites to be able to get food above ground. These types of termites often need to have a contact with the soil to live.
Primarily these types of termites are the most destructive types compared to the others. They tend to eat lots of wood and create structural damage in your homes as they tend to weaken a building’s foundations, pipes, insulations even filtration systems. They also injure plants and trees
Because of the huge termite damage it has caused, it is best that these pests are treated immediately. On the onset what you can do is not leave any wood scrap in your vicinity because these termites may snack on them. If you have a pool at home, make sure you do not provide termites the enjoyment of having the pool’s water near your home foundation.
Just like subterranean termites, drywood termites can also enter houses in swarms wherein a lot of colonies would go out in droves to procreate, get a new king and queen and find a new home. They often do this during springtime.
The colonies of these types of termites reaches up to 2, 500 in number. Unlike Subterranean termites that have three castes – the worker, the reproductive and the soldiers – the drywood termite does not have a worker. In their colony, the “false workers” or younger types of termites are the one who does the work there.
Typically, these termites are long and narrow, oval-shaped, light brown termites that are 3/8 to 1 inch long. They love to eat the same food as the subterranean termites. Unlike the subterranean termites who create their own colonies above-ground, the dry wood termite live in dry wood as its name suggests as well are not as dependent to water and soil as much as the subterranean termites.
These termites easily create their nests and tunnels within structural building. This eventually weaken and damage the buildings’ wooden support beams that eventually makes the building lean or collapse.
To prevent this from happening, ensure that different types of food are kept away from your residence. Check and then seal all cracks and crevices that termites may consider entering too.
The Formosan termites have same colony caste systems like the subterranean termites. These termites are the largest and most dangerous termites of them all and that there could be around tens of thousands members in one colony.
The Formosan termites are long, narrow, oval and yellowish brown insects that practically eat almost the same things as the subterranean and drywood termites, the difference are they also eat dead trees. Unlike the other two earlier types, the Formosan helps Mother nature by providing a new space for a new plant. However it does not change the fact that it can damage a building or your house.
To avoid the onslaught of these termites in your homes and building, drain away all water from your home while at the same time, ensure that you do not have any damp wood near your house.
The Dampwood termites
The last type of termites is the Dampwood termites. Usually these types of termite is bigger than the others. Like the Dampwood, the Drywood Termites do not have workers in their colonies and have only the young false workers who work them.
The Dampwood termites are 1 /2 to 5 / 8 in size and have a long and oval shaped body and are brownish in color. Most of these types of termites like to eat moist wood. And like their name suggest, they like to live in damp wood. A very good example of this is in a house where that has a leaking plumbing which allows the wood to continuously be wet.
Of all the other termites, Dampwood is the most harmless of them all. Not only does it not carry diseases, but they do not destroy major building structures as there is not enough water there.
Despite of its less infamous characteristics, we still do not want to have dampwood termites in our house. To avoid them it is best that we make all water drains and pipes fixed and never keep damp wood in your home.
Where’s the Termite?
So how will you know if there are termites in your house, well termites are usually the culprit when it comes to damage structures. Often times, these insects are usually maintaining their contact with the ground where their nest is placed. While these are creatures who love the dark they are not like silverfishbugs that who do not go out in day, usually you can spot these creatures when they start to look for food and search for new home.
One of the easiest ways to spot termites is by seeing the winged termite adults getting out from a building. This usually happens during spring and fall. Most of the time termites love to fly out of a house or buildings’ window and other sources that have light.
Another way of spotting termite infestation is when you see wide earthen tubes that have emerged from the ground that are over foundations and wooden supports.
At home, when you find out that we have termite infestation, do not panic. A termite colony does not grow instantly but what makes this scary if there is an established colony that would invade the new colony. What we can do is nip the problem in the bud and that is by providing them termiticides or baits.
There are two ways of termites treatment. First one is the liquids and the second one is the bait. The baits are rather easy and can be done by yourself while the liquid termiticides can be complicated but it can be used to provide a long-lasting way to have a chemical barrier to help your house be free of termites.
All of these registered repellent and non-repellent are great but you must be careful in using them. Be sure you read their labels and have an expert opinion before administering it. Aside from the termiticides, we also have what we call baiting. Usually when you speak of baiting these are stuffs like cardboard, a piece of paper that is often combined with lethal substance to kill termites.
There are many anti-termite treatments that you can do however most DIY methods may not totally eradicate swarming termites. To ensure you get rid of these nuisance pests are best that you hire an expert termite exterminator.
These pest control experts can customize the way you can fight off these nuisance insects. From termite fumigation, to using termite bond, termite sprays these known exterminators can save you time from repeating the anti-termite treatment that you keep doing but it will keep you safe from some toxic materials some of these terminate products give.
So how do you choose the right company to exterminate those termite swarmers? Well check first if they are a licensed company. Are they part of a regulating termite control group in your city or county. The reason for this is that, a membership in a local or government pest control association would enhance the credibility and reliability of the said company. It also means that this group has the proper training and technical knowledge to help you eradicate your termite problem, and do their job properly.
Also check if there are references and recommendations for this company. Like all things this is important.
Try to check 2 to 4 companies before deciding who to choose. Ask for some estimates and inspection of your place so that if you would know if you really have a termite problem. Once you got the different quotes, try to compare each of their services.
Remember a lot of companies provide different treatment methods as well warranties to ensure that these termites will not return. Check of these companies will treat affected areas just in case the termite problem returns.
Termites and termite control services and treatment can be quite confusing as there are a lot of ways to deal with termites. But just to make sure you are doing the right thing, it is highly recommended that you ask the experts regarding this.
Do not panic when choosing the write terminator company, take your time. While termites may damage structural buildings, additional havoc and checking the totality of the damage that have been cause may take some time.
Avoid companies that pressure you regarding contract signing and those who try to woo you using special offers or their scare tactics. Remember, in exterminating termites it is best that you hire an experienced technician than hire a fly-by-night so so expert.
We can also do our part in stopping or preventing our place from these termite infestations. The first thing you can do is keep all wood out whether it be damp or dry away from the house. Make sure that the house is not to humid as humidity strongly promotes such infestations. Seal all places that you think these pests can crawl back into. Regarding your plumbing make sure they do not have leaks and make sure that neither poor grading or not so proper watering would allow your house’s soil foundations wet wherein termites can thrive.