• Termites in House: Signs and Prevention

    9 November 2018
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    winged termites on a decay tree bark

    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.

     

    termites in the mound

     

    Termites are white, soft-bodied insects which may seem harmless due to their tiny size. But the truth of the matter is they cause an extreme 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 •

    • Shelter Tubes

    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.

     

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    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 indicates a severe infestation and immense structural damage.

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    • Subterranean Tunnels

    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.

     

    • 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.

     

    winged termites on a decay tree bark

    Termites devouring a block of wood

     

    • 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 house.

     

    • 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

    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.

     

    Termite Damage

    Termite Damage By Alton [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0

     

    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 •

     

    • Eliminate Moisture

    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.

     

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    It’s recommended to use a dehumidifier if you live in a damp climate to eliminate the moisture termites crave.

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    • 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.


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  • Flying Ants vs Flying Termites

    24 October 2018
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    a flying ant on a paper towel

    Flying Ants vs Flying Termites:

    How Do You Tell the Difference?

    Insects can be frightening, but flying insects are next level scary. Both ants and termites can develop wings, and immediately become more of a problem.

    It’s important to know the difference between flying ants and flying termites as each poses a different threat, and require different treatments.

    Both flying ants and flying termites travel in swarms searching for nests and to mate. Due to this habit, and their similarities in appearance, it’s very easy to confuse one with the other.

    This article will shed some light on the basic differences between flying ants vs flying termites. At first glance, they’re quite difficult to tell apart because of their closely linked structures.

     

    Flying Ants vs Flying Termites: Difference in Physical Appearance

    You will find the following physical characteristics in flying termites:

    • The body is usually black or dark brown in color.
    • They have wide bodies without a pinched waist.
    • Antennae are straight.
    • They possess four wings of equal length, two crystal clear wings on the front, and similar wings at the back.

    However, when it comes to flying ants, they physical appearance is slightly different:

    • Body colors vary from red to brown to black.
    • Their body shape is irregular with a pinched waist.
    • The antennae are elbowed.
    • They come with two pairs of wings which are different in size.
    • Their wings bear a slight tint of brown giving them a shiny appearance.
    a flying ant on the wood

    Flying ant by Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org

    Flying Ants vs Flying Termites: Difference in Behavior

    Flying termites mostly inhabit decaying trees because it is easier for them to feed on the wood. They can also be found in the wood debris, wooden structures, wooden floors, furniture, lumber, and stumps.

    Flying ants also inhabit wooden structures, but the major difference is that termites cause severe structural damage to the wooden structures. While ants do not feed on wood, so they don’t pose any real threat or cause serious damage. They merely just an annoyance.

     

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    The only behavioral similarity between flying ants and flying termites is their caste systems, and they both live in large colonies.

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    Flying Ants vs Flying Termites: Difference in Diet

    These two insects have altogether different eating habits. Flying ants are generally known to be omnivorous in nature. They usually will feed only on small insects, nectar, seeds, and food debris they find in and around your house.

    However, flying termites get their nourishment from cellulose which is nutrient-rich plant material. Cellulose is found in abundance in plants and trees. Even products containing cellulose such as wood, paper, and cotton serve as a favorite diet for termites.

     

    flying termites swarming

    Flying termites

    Flying Ants vs Flying Termites: Difference in Life Cycle

    The life cycle of termites passes through only three stages:

    • Egg
    • Nymph
    • Adult

    For ants, their life cycle passes through four stages:

    • Egg
    • Larva
    • Pupa
    • Adult

    When it comes to their lifespan, there is also another difference. A termite queen can live for decades, but the lifespan of adult termites is short as they live for just a couple of years.

    Meanwhile, the lifespan of worker ants is very short, and they live for a couple of months. Male ants live only to mate, and they die shortly afterward. Only the queen ant has a longer lifespan, and it is able to live for several years.

    Despite the differences in their life cycles, both flying ants and flying termites have similar reproductive cycles. Spring happens to be the swarming season when swarms of both ants and termites leave their respective colonies for mating. They also establish new colonies elsewhere at this time.

    A major difference though is that male ants die after mating, while male termites, together with their female partners, take care of the expansion of their newly established colonies.

     

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    Both flying ants and flying termites lose their wings after they finish mating.

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    Here is an easy to follow infographic to help you distinguish the difference between flying ants and flying termites should a swarm of either of them infest your home:

    Flying Ants vs Flying Termites infographic

    Flying Ants vs Flying Termites Infographic

     

    It is easy to confuse flying ants with flying termites and vice versa. However, ignoring swarmers thinking they are only harmless ants can be disastrous, if they turn out to be termites instead.

    So, the next time you see a flying swarm of insects in your house, observe them closely. Once you have identified them correctly, make sure you purchase the correct ant killer or termite killer product.

    You can also contact a professional pest control company to help you identify them, and exterminate them in an extreme infestation.***

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