Knowing the tell-tale signs that indicate termites are in your home is one of the best protective measures against these wood destroying insects.
- Termites cause more damage to buildings annually than all fires, storms, earthquakes and other acts of nature combined. Termites have one celled organisms in their digestive tracts that help them digest the cellulose in dead wood and other organic materials into humus. As their name implies subterranean termites live below the ground.
- Termites are social insects. They have a division of labor into different groups called castes. Workers or nymphs are responsible for the colony work i.e. nest building, food gathering and feeding of the soldiers and reproductives. The soldiers only job is to defend the colony. Primary reproductive (swarmers) are the winged colony members that emerge from the colony during certain seasons and resemble small black winged ants. Supplemental reproductives remain in the colony (don’t swarm) and resemble and form from nymphs.
- Termite workers gather food from wood in or on the ground or structures built near the ground. These workers have soft, translucent white bodies. They build mud (shelter) tubes to keep themselves from drying out or being exposed to enemies (like ants)as they explore above the ground for food sources.
- Moisture is critical to all termite castes except the swarmers which have a hard, black exoskeleton (on the exterior).
- Termites have a negative response to light which helps them stay concealed and preserve their body water.
- Because of the termite “secretive” existence their presence is often not detected until the brief emergence of hundreds to thousands of swarmers, in the spring/fall or when similar conditions of warm weather and rain occur.
- Swarmers go on brief flights, shed their wings, mate, enter the ground and form new colonies.
- Each colony is self-supporting and independent
- Supplemental reproductives may become isolated from the main colony and establish a new colony without ever leaving the ground.
- Swarmers come from mature colonies that have an established worker caste.
- Termites maintain a warm, humid environment in the colony so that they can also “grow” micro-organisms (especially fungi) which are a source of protein and vitamins that supplement their wood diet
- Decayed wood or wood with a high moisture content is preferred over sound wood. Termites working in wood facilitate decay by increasing the moisture content.
- The workers digest some of the nutrients they derive from their foraging, but the rest is brought back to the colony and fed to the other castes.
- A mature termite colony contains about 60,000 to one million workers
- Termite workers forage continuously and randomly for new food sources throughout their territory. Depending upon the amount of food and environmental factors, the foraging territory may cover up to ½ acre.
- Workers may forage 260 linear feet from one area to another. They leave a pheromone trail to recruit other workers to food sources
- Because termite activity is so hard to detect, it is advisable that the homeowner or property manager retain a licensed professional to provide a thorough inspection.
- These personnel will also be able to determine any other types of wood destroying insects or existing conditions that are conducive to termites.
- To decrease the potential for termites the lay person can make sure that there are no water leaks in a building and that rainwater runoff is deflected away from the structure.
- Ground cover and foliage should be trimmed away from the building.
- Wood debris and other cellulose materials should not be stored against or under the structure.
- There should be no wood to ground contacts from the building
- PCA can provide WDIR reports for real estate transactions, full and partial treatments and on-going inspection services on a regular basis
- Contact PCA so that a state certified wood destroy insect technician can inspect and if necessary develop a plan of action to eradicate termites from your home or facility.