Did you know that Texas has one of the highest termite incident rates in the United States? There’s a lot of great things about our state; unfortunately, being home to so many termites is an accolade we’d much rather do without. Termites are one of the most destructive pests in the world, and, each year, they cause upwards of $5 billion dollars of damage nationally. Although there are hundreds of species of termites, they all share the common trait of feeding off cellulose found in wood, grass, and many other pulpy substances. Unfortunately for us, most of our homes are built out of termite food sources, and most of that food is hidden out of view behind our walls. In this article, we’ll give a bit of background (ok, a lot of background) on the termite, how to spot them, what to do when you find termites on your property, and explain how to prevent termites from making a meal out of your home–which is something that may be more likely than you thought. According to the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Agency, an unprotected home in Texas has about a 70 percent probability of suffering termite damage within 25 years. We don’t like those odds. Here at 855Bugs, we have the kind of experience and expertise needed to prevent termites from setting up shop in your home, as well as the ability to help eradicate them when they do.
All (and probably more than) You Need To Know About Termites
Termite Mud Tunnel
Termites are part of the Isoptera Order of insects, literally meaning “equal wings.” There are three distinct types of termites in Texas, and they can be categorized as drywood, dampwood, and subterranean termites. The main differences are in colony locations, size, and feeding habits. Drywood termites don’t need as much moisture as their damp and subterranean counterparts and can colonize directly in non-decayed wood (like the wood in our houses). Their colonies are usually smaller, but they can still inflict a great deal of damage. Unlike subterranean termites, these critters will eat wood with lower moisture content and will do so across the grain of the wood–this translates to greater likelihoods of structural compromise. Dampwood termites are mainly found in the southwest regions of the state and are the largest of the bunch. They typically don’t have contact with the soil, preferring damp rotted wood to colonize in. As the name implies, subterranean termites typically colonize underground and can grow in much larger numbers than their dry and damp cousins. These are the culprits responsible for the mud tunnels you may find around a home’s foundation. If you something around your property like those in the photo below, please give 855Bugs a call and schedule your free inspection, as time is of the essence when it comes to termite infestations.
All termites go through various stages in their life cycle, starting as an egg, becoming small larvae, and then branching off to various roles within the termite colony. Although only one stage of termites (the “swarmers”) have wings, both sets are of the same size and shape, which is a rarity in the insect world. The winged swarmers are the only termites with functional vision and are responsible for choosing new locations and developing new colonies. These swarmers watch the weather, generally waiting until the day after rain, preferably with overcast skies and little wind. These swarming termites erupt from their current abode in search of light, then take flight to find mates before shedding their wings and picking out a piece of prime real estate to start a new colony. If you see this activity on your property, it’s a good time to schedule a free inspection with 855Bugs. Once established, these reproductive termites are referred to as queens and kings and they start to build their home. Once a queen sheds her wings, she slowly begins to grow in size, which allows her to lay more and more eggs each year. The king keeps eggs moist and protected and helps feed the newly hatched larvae. Termite queens can live upwards of thirty years, and a mature colony with a million plus termites can easily produce thousands of swarmers.
Besides the reproductive swarmers, there are termite workers and soldiers. The worker is the termite most responsible for damaging wood. The nonreproductive worker forages for cellulose, and subterranean workers dig tunnels and build mud tubes that serve as highways for the colony between their home and various food sources. The worker is also responsible for feeding larvae and another kind of termite within the colony, the soldier. Soldiers exist to defend the colony from other termites and ants, cannot feed on their own, and are easy to distinguish from other termites with their large head and mandibles. Soldiers make up a small portion of the colony, and, when their numbers grow too large, the workers will kill and eat them to free up resources needed elsewhere in the colony.
Termite workers can develop into soldiers, they can begin to grow wing buds to begin the process of becoming reproductive, and can even molt into the primary reproductive swarmers that develop wings and eyes in order to start new colonies. The reproductive nymphs can also regress back to worker form as needed for the wellbeing of the colony. Termite reproduction is classified into three categories, with primary reproductives like swarmers, who can leave the colony and start new colonies, secondary reproductives with wing buds like nymphs (who can molt into primary reproductives), and tertiary reproductives with no wings or wing buds who can supplement egg production when needed.
How to Prevent, Spot, and Eliminate Termites
Like many pests, the best offense against termites is a good defense. For termites, it’s highly important that you store wood away from your home, preferably off the ground, while doing your best to keep it from getting waterlogged. The more you can prevent wood from coming into contact with the soil the better, and, if wood has to meet soil, it’s best if that wood is treated. Dead trees should be cut down, and piles of brush, trash, or other materials should be eliminated as quickly as possible. It’s also recommended that you keep shrubbery from overgrowing around the perimeter of your home, and, as a general pest prevention point, ensure you have no areas of standing water or continual moisture. Some of the most common points of moisture can be found around air conditioning units due to condensation, gutter spouts, and around faucets that may have slow leaks or stay damp due to daily use. It’s also important to inspect the exterior of your home for cracks, holes, or any crevices that small insects or animals can use to infiltrate your living space. These should be sealed and repaired as quickly as possible.
As much as these best practices will help to prevent termites and other pests from entering your home, often times it is not enough. The only way to ensure that termites and other pests will not make it into your home is to create a chemical barrier through which they cannot pass. That’s where the pros at 855Bugs come in. We have preventative treatments for existing homes, as well as pre-construction treatments that will keep a new home termite free for years to come.
We also have methods to take care of existing infestations and welcome you to give us a call to schedule a free inspection. If you are wondering about whether or not you have termites, we can assist with that as well. Termites can be difficult to detect during most parts of the year. Their swarming season depends on the weather but is generally between late February and September across Texas. Swarming termites leave evidence of infestation by seeking sources of light, and, if you see a winged termite in your window sill, there’s a good chance you have termites in your home or in very close proximity to it. You may see small tubes of mud along your foundation or exterior siding.
There’s no bones about it! It can be hard to know whether the termites you see in your yard have made their way into your home. Our technicians know what to look for and will do so thoroughly. The stakes are high when it comes to termite prevention, and we want to help you protect your home. Contact us today with any questions, whether it’s about termites, our Don’t Bug Me Plan, or pest control in general. We’d be happy to come take a look during our FREE INSPECTION and provide you with some peace of mind.
Get in touch now: 855-284-7266