HOW TO GET RID OF TERMITES
Among other household pests, termite damage costs the most. In the United States alone, approximately $5 billion is spent on termite control and repair in homes. Not to mention the damage it causes to crops which amount to $30 billion. A termite infestation is like a brain tumor, it can go undetected for years. This is why it is called the silent destroyer. Once discovered, there is already extensive damage. Fortunately, there are several techniques to prevent and put an end to termite infestations. Read on and learn more about termites and how to get rid of them.
What are termites?
Termites are social insects from the family of Isoptera. They are often mistaken as ants because of their size. However, termites have two pairs of wings that are equal in length and their antennae are straight. Plus, termites have softer bodies that range from white to light brown. Believe it or not, their species are more closely related to cockroaches. And they are known to live since the Jurassic and the Triassic era.
These creatures are one of the most successful species that roam the earth. They colonize every landmass except Antarctica. One colony comprise millions of termites. Hence, it’s no surprise that they can skeletonize a house within a few months.
Termites mate during swarming. Winged termites leave their established colonies to procreate. When the king finds his queen, they shed their wings and form a new colony. The queen lays pale white eggs that will hatch into nymphs. The nymphs then molt into soldiers, workers, and reproductives or alates.
Termites differ in physical appearance depending on their roles. The soldiers are yellowish-brown with big heads and large mandibles which they use in fighting off enemies. The alates have a darker brown color and are born with two pairs of wings. The worker termites are responsible for constructing tunnels and feeding the other termites.
The queen has the longest life in the colony. She can live for over a decade, during which she can lay almost 165 million eggs. The soldier and worker termites can only live up to two years. For some species, the king can live as long as the queen. But for other species, the king dies after mating.
Types of Termites
Dampwood termites build their nests inside damp and decaying wood. Homes with plumbing problems are more susceptible to infestation of damp wood termites.
Subterranean Termites or ground termites live underground. Their tunnels can reach a distance of 150 feet. A single colony can have 1 million ground termites. As a result, they are responsible for almost 95% of all reported termite damage in homes in the US.
Drywood Termites live inside trees and wood aboveground. They got their name because they prefer to feed and live in dry wood. Unlike the other types of termites, the dry wood termites get moisture from the air.
Formosan termites originated from China. They spread through the United States by infesting wooden railroad stakes. These termites cause the most damage outdoors. They infested almost 30% of trees in North Carolina, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Georgia.
Damage Caused by Termites
Termites are ecologically beneficial outdoors by aerating and providing nutrients to the soil. However, they can be disastrous to the structural integrity of homes and buildings. Termites feed primarily on wood. But they can also gnaw on other materials like plaster and metal siding. In great numbers, they can make homes unlivable. Believe it or not, safety officers dissuade people from living in termite-infested houses because it weakens its integrity. It makes the foundations unreliable from holding off a storm.
Signs of Termite Activity
Seeing how notorious these creatures are in destroying homes and establishments, you need to know the signs of termites to keep them away or eliminate them.
Because termites like to stay hidden, an infestation is hard to detect. They only come out willingly to mate. Most species of termites swarm during night-time while others mate during daylight. You may notice discarded wings near a lamp post. Sometimes, you can see small, crawling insects on your patio. Those are the fertilized females looking for a stable place to build another colony. Make sure to eliminate these or else they will establish a nest inside your house and start a colony.
It is important to note that it takes 3 years for a termite colony to mature and produce swarmers. So, if the first sign you see is a termite swarm, you are looking at least 3 years’ worth of termite damage. If you spot swarmers at home, it means that there is a nearby colony. You have to do everything you can to locate it and do the necessary methods to eliminate them.
Hollow or Papery Wood
The dry wood termites eat the wood from the inside out. A door frame or wall may seem fine from the outside but inside it is full of intricate tunnels and chambers. Often, termites refrain from eating a thin layer of wood or paint to shield them from prying eyes. But once you apply even the slightest pressure on an infested wall or floor, a gaping hole instantly appears.
Also known as galleries, termites’ tunnels are concealed inside the wood but you can sometimes see holes where the termites enter and exit. If you see holes on wood near you, call for an expert for pest control to prevent potential infestation.
Subterranean termites use droppings to reinforce their underground tunnels. But the dry wood termites dispose of their feces by pushing them out of their nests. These create black marks around the area of the infestation.
Soldier termites bang their large heads repeatedly against the side of the tunnels to send a warning to the colony. This may come off as a clicking sound. If you hear unusual sounds at night coming from your walls, that could be termites chewing on wood and signaling others to go to their direction.
Preventing Termites from Home
The best approach to keeping your home safe from these surreptitious creatures is prevention. If you want to keep pests from entering your home, create a fortress out of concrete materials. They are not as attracted to cement as they are to wood. If you’re your home is made of concrete materials, it is unlikely for you to experience termite infestations.
You can also prevent infestation by allowing ventilation. Termites are attracted to moisture. With proper air circulation, it makes your home unattractive to them. Also, regularly check pipes and downspouts. Make sure that there are no leaks or else, it contributes to the moisture level in your environment.
If you live in a wooden house, you can keep termites away by adding a concrete extension to cover the perimeter of your home. This gives the distance between the soil and the wood to keep termites from creating tunnels that lead to your house exterior.
Biocontrol is a popular method of keeping pests away using other organisms. This is an effective method of eliminating termites. Nematodes are parasitic worms that love to feed on termites.
Another method is using baits. One simple termite bait is wet cardboard. Termites are attracted to any cellulose-based object. Place the cardboard near the colony and wait for the termites to take the bait. Once they are happily munching on the cardboard, set it on fire. Do this repeatedly and combine with other techniques to ensure that you got them all.
Another non-chemical treatment involves mixtures made from ordinary solutions found in the house. Here are some formulas for efficient natural termite repellants:
- Mix half a cup of vinegar with lemon juice. The acid will instantly kill termites upon contact.
- Mix sodium borate or borax powder with water and spray it on the termite nest.
- Orange oil derived from orange peels causes termites to dissolve making it an effective termite killer.
Pesticides for termites are called termiticides. These chemicals are highly toxic and must be handled with extreme care. When using termiticides make sure to follow the instructions on the label. But you may also opt to contact a pest control professional. They have the right equipment and expertise to apply termiticides in the safest manner possible.
If you’re looking for professionals that can offer the best methods for termite control, visit Go-Forth Pest Control. This company offers state-of-the-art strategies for pest control. The experts use safe methods for elimination that ensures the safety of the environment and all the living things around it. The best part is, they offer their services at an affordable price. If you are experiencing budget constraints, it is not a reason to neglect the safety of your family from pests. For the best way to keep termites away, visit this local Triangle exterminator for more information.