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Termites in House: Warning Signs and Prevention
A termite infestation is a nightmare for any property owner. But there are warning signs and precautions you can take to avoid an infestation. If you think you have a termite problem, contact a termite control professional right away.
Termites are white, soft-bodied insects which may seem harmless due to their tiny size. But the truth of the matter is they cause a massive amount of damage because of their wood-eating nature. They cause up to $5 billion worth of damages per year in the U.S alone. This staggering figure alone should make you take termites very seriously.
A major problem with termites is that it’s not easy to spot them because they live in dark, damp, and warm areas of the house. By the time you notice them they’ve already damaged the wooden structure of your house.
Therefore, instead of waiting to find termites crawling around in the open, be vigilant about the signs of a termite infestation. This will save you a large amount of structural loss in the long run.
Here are some of the warning signs you should be aware of to protect your house from these pests.
• Warning Signs of a Termite Infestation •
These are brown clay-like tubes which can be seen on walls near structures infested with termites. The tubes provide them with the dark and humid conditions essential for their survival, and protection from predators. Also, these tubes provide them with pathways to forage for food. The size of the tubes indicates the level of infestation.
If the shelter tube is around 10mm wide assume that the infestation is still at an early stage. Whereas larger tubes up to 50mm wide indicate a severe infestation and immense structural damage.
Subterranean termites live underground in the soil, and you might find them swarming in your garden. But it is difficult to spot them because they build underground tunnels for transporting and foraging food. These tunnels are deep down in the soil as deep as 20cm, while their radius can reach up to 50 meters.
This is a mud-like substance produced by species of termites working on wood such as subterranean and drywood termites. It can mostly be seen near foundation walls and joints.
Blowholes in Trees
Termite colonies living in tree roots and trunks sometimes cut a slit on the tree trunk. They use this to escape when they are attacked by a predator. In response to the slits, trees produce callus, then worker termites seal these holes after finishing the fight with predators. These slit marks and sealed holes can be seen on tree trunks.
Hollow Sounding Wood
Termites consume wood from the inside weakening the wooden structure and making it difficult to notice any damage. However, when a structure damaged by termites is tapped, it produces a hollow sound.
Tap the walls and walk around on wooden floors to see if there’s a hollowness. This a sure-fire way to find termites in the house. Squeaky floors or floors that are sagging can also be signs of infestation. If you suspect an infestation, tap on the floor.
Presence of Wings
Swarmers are reproductive termites which take flight in search of a mate, and to establish new colonies. They shed their wings after mating, so look out for their discarded wings in your home. Especially in the Spring season, you are very likely to find them.
Termite droppings are tiny pellets which look like black dot marks and are a dark powder-like substance. You’ll spot these droppings near a wooden structure that termites have infected.
Considering the amount of damage termites can cause, it’s better to take preventative measures to make your house unfavorable for these wood eaters. Here are some easy yet effective steps you can take to keep termites away from your home.
• How to Prevent a Termite Infestation •
Moisture is the lifeline of termites, so to help keep thirsty termites away from your home you have to eradicate moisture as much as possible. Take care of drainage, fix any water leakage, and get rid of stagnant water.
It’s recommended to use a dehumidifier if you live in a damp climate to eliminate the moisture termites crave.
Build a Barrier
A waterproof barrier around a house’s foundation works effectively to keep termites away. Foundations in modern homes are usually covered with waterproof sheeting to protect it from water seepage. Consequentially this will keep termites away from your home.
This sort of barrier can be built around an old home’s foundation. Even though this may be expensive, this one-time investment will preserve your home from future damages.
Cut Down on Wood
This one should be fairly obvious. After all, termites are wood-eaters, so there is no secret they invade your house in search of wood to munch on. Try to cut down on wood in your home by replacing your wooden furniture with other materials like metal or plastic if you’re trying to keep termites away.
Treat Your Wood
Of course, you can’t eliminate all wood from your home. Instead, you can properly treat the wooden structures in your home to protect them from termites.
There are a large variety of termite repellent sprays available on the market. Simply spray them on the wooden surface, and it will not only kill the existing termites but will also thwart future infestations.
More Related Articles About Termites:
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Life Span of Termites
Termites are one of the most destructive pests you can encounter. Understanding the life cycle of termites will inform you as to why they are so troublesome.
Termites are dangerous wood-eating pests, and their infestation is a real threat to wooden foundations. Their ability to eat away the entire structure of a house or building is a testament to how destructive they are.
It is estimated that termites cause property damage of $5 Billion every year!
These decomposers have been munching on wood for centuries with more than 2500 termite species in existence. Each has unique characteristics, appearance, behavior, and habitat. But despite their distinct features, the life cycle of termites is similar in all species.
The life cycle of termites starts when swarming winged reproductive males, and females make a mating flight. They leave the established colonies in large groups.
Female swarmers then release perfume like ‘mating pheromone’ chemicals. This lures the male swarmers, and once they find an attractive female, they shed their wings together. Shedding wings is an indication they are a couple now, and then they procreate.
They land in a new place to establish a new colony there. They finish mating there and then fertilize the female termite. Those respective male and female termites will become the king and queen of the newly established colony.
The fertilized queen lays eggs that eventually hatch into larvae which are pale-white in color.
A termite queen can lay up to 30,000 eggs every single day!
Once the larvae hatch out of their eggs, they start molting. Molting is a growth process for termites in which they shed their exoskeletons to develop into worker and soldier termites. The termite which is going through the molting process is known as a nymph.
Initially, a soft exoskeleton is developed under the existing hard exoskeleton. Once they reach maturity, the outer skeleton splits, and the inner skeleton hardens.
Eggs hatch into larvae after 30 days. The termite king is responsible for feeding the immature termites. Larvae will molt several times over time.
Environmental factors and pheromone cues by the king and queen determine which caste larvae will assume after growing. The termites’ castes which larvae can develop into include workers, soldiers, and alates (reproductive termites).
Molting is required to achieve maturity, and enter the caste system of termites. Usually, larvae molt up to 3 times to reach full maturity. Afterward, larvae pick up castes and develop structures according to their caste. There are three possible castes larvae can be placed in to. Each has specific functions to perform for the survival of the colony.
Workers are an essential component of any termite colony. Their roles include:
- repairing nests
- feeding other castes
- grooming other castes
- maintaining the colony
- constructing tunnels and chambers
- forage food for other castes
Most of the termites that you’ll see eating are generally are worker termites. They are sterile and don’t grow any further. Also, they are blind, lack wings, and have a lifespan of 1 – 2 years.
These termites are yellow-brown. They have large mandibles and enlarged red heads. Their primary purpose is to defend the colonies from any intruders. Even though they are warriors, they are unable to eat on their own.
Soldiers are dependent on workers to feed them. Just like the worker stage, the soldier stage is as far as soldiers will go in the caste system. They are also sterile and don’t live longer than 2 years.
Reproductive Termites (alates)
Reproductive termites are dark in color and possess functioning eyes with two pairs of wings which aid them during their mating flight. Those larvae who assume the role of reproductive alates (kings and queens) leave their colony during colonizing flight. They search for a suitable site for nesting, mate there, reproduce, and then become the king and queen of their colonies.
Termite Queens have a long lifespan and can live up to decades in favorable climate conditions.
In the life cycle of termites, there is no hard and fast rule for assuming the respective caste role. If the colony demands it, termites from one caste can develop into another caste. For example; a worker termite can become a soldier or alate if required.
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9 Warning Signs If You Have Termites in the House
Termites can be quite sneaky because most people don’t even notice the signs of termites infestation till quite a substantial amount of damage is already done.
If you look at their tiny white bodies, you would never be able to guess what a menace they can be. We’re talking about termites. These wood-feeding insects cause damages worth $5 billion in America every year. Here we’ll show you how to tell if you have termites.
While dry wood termites feed on wood that is dry, the subterranean termites live underground and can cause a lot of damage. At Control Exterminating, we specialize in dealing with all kinds of termite infestation in NYC. The first step to controlling a termite infestation is to be able to identify the signs of termites infestation early.
Here are 9 signs to tell if you have termites in the house:
#1. Termite shelter tubes
These structures are clay like and are brown in color. These tubes protect termites from predators and also provide them with the dark and humid environment to store their food. These tubes are between 10 mm to 50 mm in width. We must look out for these tubes as they are a tell-tale sign of termites.
#2. Subterranean tunnels
The subterranean termites make subterranean tunnels where they store their food. These tunnels can be almost 20 meters deep in the earth.
#3. Blowholes in trees
Both the species make blowholes in trees. The subterranean termites make the more visible holes. When the alates (winged termites) want to come out of the trunk to form a new colony, they cut longitudinal slits in the tree trunk. After the exit is complete, the worker termites seal this hole.
#4. Termite droppings
If you find termite feces (also known as frass) in your home, it is a sure sign of infestation. These look like tiny wood colored pellets.
#5. Earthen packing
This is a mud-like substance produced by termites working on wood. It can mostly be seen near foundation walls and joints. Both the species of termites can cause damage to foundations.
#6. Termite noise
Termites often hollow out wood, leaving only a thin upper layer intact. In places of heavy infestation, an audible tapping noise can be heard. This sound comes when the soldier termites tap their mandibles and heads on wood to signal the rest of the colony.
“If you find termite feces (also known as frass) in your home, it is a sure sign of infestation. These look like tiny wood colored pellets.”
#7. Termite wings
If you see termite with wings around your home, you definitely have an infestation in your home. While subterranean termites swarm during the spring season, this is not the case with dry wood termites. Call a termite control NYC service provider if you see a swarm or discarded wings in your home.
#8. Sagging floors
Termites are known to cause extensive damage to wooden floors without showing any signs on the surface. They can completely hollow out wood and make it weak. Squeaky floors or floors that are sagging can also be signs of infestation. If you suspect an infestation, tap on the floor. If you notice a hollow sound, contact Control Exterminating without wasting any more time.
#9. Tree Nests
Some termites also make their nests inside tree trunks or in the hollow area of the roots. Initially, these nests are not detectable, but after some time you will notice a large pile of mud near the root of the tree.
“Termites are known to cause extensive damage to wooden floors without showing any signs on the surface. They can completely hollow out wood and make it weak.”
Quickly Getting Your Termite Problem Under Control!
If you are investing in a home or any other type of property you may have to have the home inspected and if termites are present, you might have to rethink the purchase. They are active at night and can go undetected for years.
Termites eat wood and have also been known to chew on wiring. In both instances, this can be a costly thing to repair. If they are eating on your wood flooring, it will weaken the floor, making it impossible to walk on without harming yourself. If they begin chewing on your wiring, this can cause an electrical fire.
Both instances can be extremely dangerous and costly. These are some of the most compelling reasons for getting the problem under control quickly. The longer they are allowed to exist, the worse the problem will become.
Finding a reliable and efficient pest control service in Manhattan, NY, Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island is possible when you rely on a reputable service like Control Exterminating. We respond quickly to every type of service requests to ensure your termite problem doesn’t get any worse.***
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Termites: Pests or Saviors of the Environment?
What are the first thoughts that come to your mind when you see termites? Is it pests or vermin? Well, think again. According to the researchers at Princeton University termites are saviors, as termites role in the environment is quite significant.
So, while termites may be a menace if they infest your house, termites role in the world’s ecosystem is significantly important. In fact, only a few of the 3000 known termite species can be considered pests. Be it deserts of Africa, tropical rainforests, temperate woodlands or even your neighborhood garden; they play a crucial role in maintaining the ecosystem.
Why Are Termites Important to the Environment
- Termites help prevent desertification of land
Rain is able to seep through the holes dug into the ground by the termites rather than just evaporate. In fact, termite mounds allow the plants around them to thrive on a small percentage of rain that would typically be needed for any vegetation to survive. This allows the plants surrounding termite mounds to germinate and flourish after a withering drought.
Even termite feces are good for the soil. Its stickiness helps prevent soil erosion. The bacteria in the gut of termites help extract nitrogen from the air and provide this excellent fertilizer to the soil. This tiny vermin mix organic and inorganic matter to help the soil retain its nutrients.
- Termites improve the quality of the soil
Termites play a significant role in our forests as well. They extract the cellulose present in the wood for food and provide a number of essential substances to improve the soil quality in the forest. Thanks to the symbiotic bacteria and protozoa present in their bodies, termites can eat wood, dung, lichen and even dirt. So, not only do they prevent overcrowding of trees in the forest, but they also provide the correct environment for new life to flourish. The tunnels created by them create waterways that help new plants to grow.
- Nourishment for other animals
Termites are also an essential part of the food chain. Birds, chimpanzees and even ants are known to feed on termites. Being high in protein and fats, they are a good source of nutrition.
Termites are important for the environment but are still a problem in the home. This does not mean that we allow termites to take over our homes, and therefore termite removal remains essential. After all the sandy soil and high moisture levels make our homes the perfect environment for these pests – making pest control NYC very crucial.
Of course, not, there are some proactive steps that we can take to prevent termite infestation in our homes.
- It is essential to remove any old rotting stumps and roots in your yard.
- Always store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house.
- Also, try and eliminate wood-to-ground contact of your foundation. Damp wood can be one of the biggest cause of termite infestation in our homes.
- Keep a constant check on your wooden floors and doors for infestation.
Termites have a role in the environment, not in your house.
However, if in spite of all these efforts, these pesky pests do infest your home you need to control your termite infestation. This should be done in an environmentally friendly manner, using treatments that are effective and non-hazardous to your family and pets.
In NYC Control Exterminating is the one-stop answer to all your pest control worries. Not only do they eradicate termites from your home in the most efficient manner, but they also do it in the most environmentally friendly way.
However, the next time you see a termite mound on your playground, don’t call the pest control immediately. If these tiny vermin are not destroying any public property, you may let them be. After all these tiny termites are actually working hard to maintain the ecosystem of your area.
For more termite facts, check out this article on how to tell if you have termites.***