What Are Termites?
Termites are small, burrowing insects that eat wood – especially damp wood. Termites are social creatures – just like we are – that live with a specific social order to take care of the colony that they live in.
Termites have a social hierarchy. There are basically five levels of termites: the worker, the soldier, the reproductives, the king, and the queen. Each distinctive level has its own duties when it comes to the colony.
Why Worry about Termites?
Termites cause billions of dollars in damage each year. They primarily feed on wood, but also damage paper, books, insulation, and even swimming pool liners and filtration systems.
Termites can injure living trees and shrubs, but more often are a secondary invader of woody plants already in decline.
While buildings may become infested at any time, termites are of particular importance when buying or selling a home since a termite inspection/infestation report is normally a condition of sale.
Besides the monetary impact, thousands of winged termites emerging inside one’s home are an emotionally trying experience — not to mention the thought of termites silently feasting on one’s largest investment.
How Will I Know If My Home Is Infested?
Spring typically is when large numbers of winged termites, known as “swarmers,” emerge inside homes. Swarmers emerging indoors are incapable of eating wood and are best removed with a vacuum.
Discovering winged termites indoors almost always indicates an infestation warranting treatment.
Are There Other Signs of Termite Presence?
Yes, termites can be seen emerging from the base of a foundation wall or adjoining porches and patios. Other signs of infestation are earthen tubes extending over foundation walls, support piers, sill plates, floor joists, etc. The mud tubes are typically about the diameter of a pencil, but sometimes can be thicker.
If I See No Signs of Termites, Is My Property Safe?
Often there will be no visible indication that the home is infested. Infestations can go undetected for years, hidden behind walls, floor coverings, insulation, and other obstructions. Termite feeding and damage can even progress undetected in wood that is exposed because the outer surface is usually left intact.
Confirmation of infestation often requires the keen eye of an experienced termite inspector. However, even the most experienced inspector can overlook infestation or damage which is hidden.
Can I Treat My Property Myself?
Ridding a home of termites requires special skills. A knowledge of building construction is needed to identify the critical areas where termites are likely to enter.
Many of these potential points of entry are hidden and difficult to access. Termite control also utilizes specialized equipment such as masonry drills, pumps, large-capacity tanks, and soil treatment rods.
A typical treatment may involve hundreds of gallons of a liquid pesticide, known as a termiticide, injected into the ground alongside the foundation, beneath concrete slabs, and within foundation walls.
In short, termite treatment is a job for professionals.
How Can I Prevent Termite Infestation?
Regular treatment by a professional pest control expert is your best line of defense against termite infestation.