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Eastern Subterranean Termite Control and Methods

Feb 20

Eastern Subterranean Termite Control Introduction

Eastern subterranean termites wreak havoc on structural buildings. The life cycle of termites is discussed in this article, as well as structural and chemical termite control measures.

Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar), an eastern subterranean termite, is found throughout Pennsylvania and is known to cause structural damage to wood. It is usually the result of years of infestation when this damage becomes visible (Figure 1). As a result, termite damage is not a sudden onslaught that would lead a structure to collapse in a matter of days. Termite problems normally occur some years after construction, usually ten years or more. Many houses in Pennsylvania are unlikely to ever be infested with termites because they are either built to prevent termite infestations or are located in areas where termite risk is minimal. Infestation risk can be decreased or controlled by avoiding certain flaws or errors in design, site grading, and maintenance, or by using soil pesticides or baits.

Termites feed on roots, tree stumps, fallen tree limbs and branches on the ground, and other organic matter. They're useful when they help break down wood and other cellulose-based products into molecules that can be utilised by other living species. Termites occasionally attack living plants, such as shrub and tree roots. They feed cellulose-based materials such as structural wood, wood fittings, paper, books, cotton, and kindred products in buildings.

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites are specialized castes of social insects that reside in underground colonies and perform specific colony activities. Workers, soldiers, and reproductives are the three main castes in the termite colony (kings, queens, and secondaries). Unless a termite tube or infested wood is ripped open, the creamy-white workers are rarely visible. The workers are the ones who feed the wood and create damage. Individual workers are thought to last up to five years. Soldiers have elongated yellowish heads with large jaws and are about a quarter-inch in size, similar to adult workers. Soldiers are in short supply compared to their linked workers, therefore they must rely on the workers to feed them. The soldiers will use their jaws to defend the colony once it is invaded or a hole is produced in a tube or piece of infested wood. Secondaries are reproductive females that occur in mature colonies when conditions are suitable. The kings and queens are dark-brown or black in color and range in length from 3/8 to 1/2 inch. They have two pairs of equal-length translucent wings that break off immediately after swarming. The shed wings are frequently the only indication that termites have infested a building. Swarms of winged termites emerge in Pennsylvania between February and June.

Termite's Cycle of Life

Swarms of the reproductive caste may be seen in afflicted buildings in late winter or early spring. Because the other castes do not want to expose themselves to light, the black, winged termites are the most commonly seen. Winged termites are drawn to light and swarm around doors and windows when they first enter a structure. The termites rip off their wings and search for a mate after crawling or fluttering around for a brief time. Each pair tries to find damp wood in contact with the soil in order to start a new colony, but only a few are successful. The winged forms cause no damage to the house, despite the fact that they can be a nuisance.

Termites and Termite Damage

Swarming termites or their wings alone are a solid sign that termites are active in a structure. Winged termites are frequently mistaken for winged ants. Except for carpenter ants, most types of ants in the house are only annoyances that do not cause damage to wood. As a result, it's critical to understand the distinctions between winged termites and winged ants. Looking at their waists is the easiest method to tell the two groups apart. An ant's waist is thin and wasp-like, whereas a termite's waist is broad. Ants' antennae or feelers are formed like an L, but termites' are straight. Furthermore, termite wings are of equal length and nearly twice as long as the termite body, but ant wings are roughly equal in length and the fore and hind wings are asymmetrical in length.

The runways or passages in termite-infested wood are coated with an earth-like material that is bonded to the wood. If the wood has been contaminated for a long time, it may be hollowed out with passages and look to be rotten. Many of the hidden worker termites may emerge when a screwdriver or similar tool is used to probe such wood.

Termite tubes are another indicator of termites in the home (Figure 6). Termites build these earth-colored tubes for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is to provide a safe pathway from the earth to the wood they feed. Furthermore, the winged termites may use these tubes as swarming exits. These tubes can be found on cellar walls, wooden posts, wall studs, mudsills, and door and window trim, among other places. Termites are particularly attracted to wood embedded in the earth or in concrete cellar floors.

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Where to Find Termite Damages

Termite infestations are most common in Pennsylvania's basements and cellars, as well as the structural timbers immediately above the cellar walls, such as mudsills, studs, joists, subflooring, and floors. Termite infestation is most susceptible in wooden posts, steps, door frames, and trim embedded in an earth or concrete floor. Termites can destroy wood siding, window frames, steps, and other materials that are covered in earth or lay on the ground. Termites can damage the flooring and structure in the walls if the termite infestation is severe; this is especially true in houses built on concrete slabs. Termites like regions near furnaces, chimneys, hot water heaters, and hot water pipes because they give warmth throughout the winter.

A thorough inspection of the building might reveal the extent of damage to structural timbers and woodwork. Although you are free to inspect the building yourself, we recommend that you hire a professional pest control company to do so. Individuals with skill spotting termite infestations that many laypeople would normally overlook work for licensed pest control companies.

All suspicious woodwork should be tested for soundness and visually inspected for signs of mud tunnels. Probing the wood with an awl, ice pick, screwdriver, or other similar object is common. Control strategies can be planned after the location and extent of the infestation have been determined.

Termite Control

To begin, seek estimates from at least three qualified pest control companies. It's common noting that pest control companies frequently offer a variety of control methods and warranties. A trustworthy firm may be recommended by the Better Business Bureau, neighbors, friends, and coworkers. Members of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the Pennsylvania Pest Management Association (PPMA) have access to specific training and information, and they are more likely to be professional.

Termite Baits

Termite baits have become increasingly popular in recent years. This is a nice addition to the liquid barrier treatments arsenal, and it will help in the fight against termite infestations. Baiting is the process of establishing termite feeding by using an attractant (wood stakes, cardboard, or other cellulose-based material). The active ingredient (insecticide) is either introduced after the feeding has begun or included in the initial baiting. Termites eating the treated material will bring the toxicant back to the colony, where it will have a negative impact on the colony, possibly resulting in the colony's extinction.

Baits are especially important when treating structures with wells or springs near the foundation, drainage tiles surrounding the foundation, air ducts under or embedded in the slab, or conditions where a perennially high water table renders conventional soil treatment ineffective. Despite evidence that they may be useful as a stand-alone treatment, many of the parameters that influence baiting efficacy remain unknown. Licensed, professional pest control companies should be contracted to conduct a baiting service, just as they should be hired to apply termiticides to the soil. Baiting may be recommended in conjunction with a partial (or total) soil treatment. Termite baits are not tested for efficacy by the USDA-FS.

Warranties on Termite Treatments

The majority of professional pest control companies offer termite treatment warranties. Warranty renewals should be thoroughly reviewed for conditions, limitations, and yearly expenses. Other wood-destroying organisms such as wood-boring beetles, carpenter ants, and other termite species are not covered by warranties for subterranean termite control (e.g., drywood termites). Buildings with structural renovations that have disturbed the soil near to the foundation or extensions to the original structure that have not been treated will also have their liability limited.

The repair of products damaged by termites after treatment attempts is probably the most challenging component of warranty coverage. Termite companies understandably do not want to be held liable for losses that occurred prior to their treatment. Even a thorough inspection of the property, however, may not reveal all existing damage. As a result, it's important to have a comprehensive inspection done prior to treatment, as well as an accurate and precise documentation of all current and previous termite activity. Obtain a damage replacement clause with your warranty whenever possible.

Finally, you should figure out how much it will cost to renew your termite warranty each year in order to determine your house in good shape. It is common for companies to charge an annual fee equal to 10% of the original treatment cost to extend the warranty. Obviously, you have paid for another treatment after 10 years, but with the present high treatment failure rates (20-30% in some locations) for subterranean termites, it may be advisable to have warranties in place for an extended period of time. To determine if control efforts were successful, it is recommended that warranties be kept for at least one to two years.