Termite infestations are an unfortunate, but widespread nuisance that on average, affects more than 600,000 homes each year across the Unites States. The construction of residential homes in America commonly uses wood as a primary building material and because the termite’s primary source of food is wood, the private residences of everyday Americans are at high risk of termite infestations. The city of Houston rates “Very High” under the Termite Infestation Probability Zones Map, or TIP Zone map, making the Houston community especially vulnerable to termite infestation. This means that knowing the available options when it comes to termite treatment should be considered a higher priority for Houstonians than it might be for other Americans who live in different zones within the United States.
One key reason that finding fast and effective termite treatment is so critical for you and your family is because the termite never sleeps or even stops to take a break from eating the wood which surrounds your home. As soon as a termite colony makes itself comfortable in your home, these pests are continually gnawing away at the wood in and around your home’s structure for twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. This is also why it is possible for a termite infestation to create such large amounts of damage to your residence in such a short period of time. Considering that each termite colony has the potential to contain over one million termites, it is paramount that you and your family quickly decide on a quality termite treatment that will send these pests packing before they’re able to cause any further destruction to your home’s wooden structure.
To fully understand a termite infestation in your home and to recognize when termite treatment is necessary, it is first important to understand what a termite is, the different types of termites and how these pesky pests manage to infiltrate your home.
What are termites and how do I identify them?
The termite is a small, ant-like insect usually measuring between 1/4 and 1/2 of an inch long. These troublesome critters have soft bodies with straight antennae and can range in color from white to light brown depending on the type of termite. Termite season can begin at various points of the year, but will generally start in the warmer and wetter months. However, the beginning of termite season largely depends on the area in which you live and the type of termite present in that area. In Texas, termite season usually begins in early Spring, making this an ideal time of year to get your home inspected for termites so that you may detect the presence of these pests as early as possible. Early termite detection allows you to invest in effective termite treatment that will save your home and family from an overwhelming infestation and the high cost of damage repairs.
What are the different types of termites?
Termite colonies operate on a caste system where there are three different classes of termites, with each type carrying out different roles in contributing to the colony or nest. These three types of termites are called soldiers, workers and winged swarming termites. Worker termites are those that are responsible for constructing and maintaining the nest where the termites live. This type of termite also collects food for the colony, including the wood in your home, and builds the mud tubes which the worker termites use to travel between wood sources and the colony.
The soldier termite’s main purpose is to protect and defend the termite nest by plugging any broken walls, mud tubes and/or locations where the nest might have become compromised.
Once a termite colony reaches a certain capacity and is ready to expand, winged swarming termites, or alates, will take flight from their current nest in search of a nearby location to establish a new colony. It is at this time that winged swarming termites will find a mate with which they will start their new colony. Mating for the termite begins the business of building and starting a new colony.
Based on the location of their colony, termites are generally classified into three different groups — subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. However, no matter the type of termite, successful termite treatment is always vital when any type of infestation occurs.
As the most common type of termite within the United States, the subterranean termite exists in all states except Alaska and is the most destructive termite species in America. As such, subterranean termite treatment is the most frequently requested type of termite treatment in the USA. These termites establish colonies in the soil below ground or in secluded moist environments above ground to protect themselves from the open air. To access their preferred above ground food sources from their colony below ground, the subterranean termite will build unique “mud tubes”, also know as “galleries” or “tunnels”. Some colonies can contain more than one egg-laying female, allowing the number of termites in the subterranean nest to multiply at alarming rates. Subterranean termites can often infest homes for years undetected, making the response to early detection and the use of quick and reliable termite treatment, like that provided by Natran, a necessity for the structural integrity of your home.
There are different identifying features that you can use to distinguish subterranean termites from other types of termites. In a subterranean termite colony, the winged swarmers, or alates, will generally appear to be dark-brown or black in color with two pairs of wings that are equal in length. The worker termites in these particular colonies do not have wings, are approximately 1/4 of an inch or less and cream colored. Subterranean soldier termites have large mandibles, a creamy-white body with a brown head and are wingless.
Dampwood termites are attracted to wood that has faced water damage or that sits directly on the ground. You might find a dampwood termite infestation in a tree stump, a fallen log or an area in your home that has been affected by water, such as a leaky roof or a cracked drain pipe. As damp wood termites infest your residence, they will eat away at the wooden support beams, weakening the structure of your home.
Dampwood termite colonies are among the smallest of all termite colonies, however, these insects are the largest in size compared to other types of termites. Each colony contains nymphs, soldiers and winged swarmers. Nymphs can be over half an inch in length and are light in color to the point of near transparency. Like nymphs, dampwood soldier termites can grow to half an inch long, but have dark brown mandibles that extend from their flat brown heads. Dampwood swarmers are dark brown with wings and can reach up to an inch in length.
Drywood termites build their colonies inside of dry wood structures that can be present above ground level including fences and utility posts, door and window frames and furniture. This type of termite does not need soil or a moist environment for their colony to thrive. Drywood termite colonies are small, generally containing under 1,000 termites making them less destructive than their subterranean relatives. However, it is still imperative that you seeks termite treatment as quickly as possible to rid your home of drywood termites.
Drywood termites have short legs, a thick waist, straight antennae and range anywhere from 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch long. Particular identifying features of a drywood termite depends on its place in the colony’s caste system. Worker drywood termites are cream colored and can appear to look white against wood, soldier drywood termites vary in color from cream to brown and have mandibles with teeth, while winged swarmer drywood termites are brown or black in color with wings that are equal in length.
With the different types of termites defined and some information on how to identify them, it’s important to now learn 5 major signs that your home has been infested by the most common type of termite, the subterranean termite, so that you know whether or not it’s time for termite treatment.
5 Signs of a Subterranean Termite Infestation
1. Mud tunnels or tubes
One of the most major signs that you are in need of termite treatment in your home is the presence of mud tunnels or tubes. These tubes provide shelter for the termites as they travel between their nest and your home. At approximately the width of a drinking straw, these tubes have a flat muddy appearance and may be present beneath your floors, on pipes throughout your home, along cracks or around your baseboards and plumbing.
2. Wood That Sounds Hollow
Termites will often dine on the wood in your home starting from the inside of the wood source, hollowing out the middle of the wood and leaving only a thin veneer behind. If you notice that the wood in or around your home sounds empty when you knock on it, this may be due to a termite infestation and indicates that it’s time for you and your family to look into termite treatment.
3. Flying termites, or “swarmers”
Once it’s time to begin a new colony, reproductive male and female termites, or swarmers, will leave their current colonies to procreate. It is during this process that you may see swarms of what look like flying ants near your home. Like most insects, these swarmers are especially attracted to light sources. The presence of these swarms means that a termite colony might be nearby and that these critters are looking to begin a new one in close proximity the the existing colony. It is important to note that even if you do not spot live termites near your residence, you could still be dealing with an infestation that would require termite treatment.
4. Piles of wings
During the swarming process, the two swarmers will land and prepare to establish their new colony. At this time, the swarmers will shed their wings, leaving them behind. Finding these discarded wings around your home, whether just a few wings or entire piles, means that you may be dealing with an active termite colony somewhere near your residence and that termite treatment could be necessary.
5. Wall Damage
Another sign of a subterranean termite infestation in your home is the presence of wall damage. Wall damage caused by termites often looks like water damage and can present itself in the form of discolored drywall, bubbling or peeling paint or bulging walls. This damage can also lead to dysfunctional doors and windows as the wood in your home begins to weaken and warp or bend. These signs of damage may be less obvious to the eye and if you’re noticing these signs, this might mean that the termite infestation has been present in your home for quite some time and that your family should seek termite treatment as soon as possible.
How do I know when it is time for termite treatment?
If you have identified these five signs in and/or around your home and yard, it is likely time for you and your family to seek subterranean termite treatment. Natran Green Pest Control’s goal is to implement preventive systems within your yard and home to lessen the threat of a termite infestation. In the case of an existing termite infestations, Natran Green Pest Control’s termite treatment uses baiting control for subterranean termites without subjecting your home, your family, your yard or our planet to harsh chemicals, unless completely unavoidable. This method of termite treatment will eventually eradicate the underground termite colony, completely eliminating the infesting insects.
Termite infestations disrupt the comfort and stability we expect to find in our homes, and fortunately Natran is here to help. After Natran Green Pest Control has utilized its smart, responsible and sustainable termite treatment, you, your family and your pets will be able to return to a comfortable and undisturbed life within your termite free home.