TERMITES – THE SILENT DESTROYER OF HOUSEHOLDS

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Hello Everyone. This is Sindhu here, and I am going to share my Experience about this tiny creature – Termites. When I was in my 5th Grade, one of my friends advised me to munch on small black ants to get big round eyes. It sounds disgusting to me and I said to myself that its a myth. We lived in an Urban area and every day I noticed many cockroaches, Ants, and lizards roaming around the kitchen floor especially in the Midnight. Sometimes, It looks funny to me when my mom runs after the cockroaches with a broomstick and drawing with chalks to prevent the ants on the walls. I faced the same issues when I stayed in a dormitory. Some pest control sprays worked and some may not. Once, when I went to my Grandma’s home in a village, she asked me to pick up the firewoods for cooking. when I picked it up, I asked my grandma about the Mud like pipes all around the wooden piece and some white insects moving in and out of it. she replied that those tiny insects called Termites eat wood and builds a nest on it. So she asked me to scrap all the mud tunnels using a stick and bring it.

Years went on and I migrated to the USA with Family, bought a New Home, and almost got settled. One year later, when I was doing some spring cleaning of the entire house, I noticed small blisters on my wooden floor. I gave a quick thought about what it should be, as its a newly bought home. When I researched the causes, I was little shocked to know about the termite’s colony and checked for any other signs of termites at the nook and corner of my home and I can see Frass – termites fecal matter. Initially thought, to resolve this issue with DIY -Home control measures but as it spreads faster from floors to walls and ceilings, I finally called an Extermination Expert.we are clueless about the damage it costs to our building structure. Nearly spent thousands of dollars and regretted buying a new home without being aware of this termite infestation. I heard a myth saying, “If Termites are at our home, then the head of the family member will get some health issues”..and well from my experience,” If termites are at our home, then the head of the family member will get a lot of financial issues”. Here are some of the Information that I would like to share about this termite – a small silent destroyer which causes property damage and even risks our lives if unnoticed.

Each and every creature in this world has its own purpose for living. In the Forests, Termites are called as “ Green Machines” as it plays a significant role in balancing our Ecosystem. It feeds on dead and decaying plants and acts as Decomposers enriching the soil with nutrients. Its tunnel or Mud tubes help to aerate the soil improving soil fertility. When the Land development displaces termites, they try to occupy and destroy buildings.

General Features of Termites :

  • Termites are Eusocial Insects – Living in a cooperative group with one female ( Queen ), many males and non-reproductive insects taking care of young ones.
  • They are a group of Cellulose – eating insects ( wood, leaf litter, soil, animal dung ) and eat up other materials like paper, drywall.
  • Termites never sleep and they are able to feed on wood or cellulose materials 24 hours a day and all year long.
  • Termites vary in color from white to brown to black, depending on the species and the life stages of the particular termite.
  • It was mistakenly called “white ants” but it is closely related to Cockroaches.
  • There are more than 2,750 species that are widely distributed and colonizing most landmasses except Antarctica.
  • There are more than 2,750 species that are widely distributed and colonizing most landmasses except Antarctica.
  • The king termite is 1-2 cm long and the Queen termite may grow up to 11 cm long, called “ Egg-laying machines” and may produce as many as 40,000 eggs a day for many years.
  • In termites, the hormones and pheromones (chemical signal ) play a major role in communication, control molting, metamorphosis ( Life cycle ), and caste differentiation.
  • The primitive termite colonies may contain 100-1,000 individuals whereas the modern termite families have colonies of 1,000-10,00,000 individuals.
  •  Termites have a soft cuticle and they make nests where it is warm, damp, and dark. Termites are almost blind but use its antenna and olfactory senses to detect food.
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Types of Termites :

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Knowing its types will help us to take appropriate pest control treatments. There are three common types of termites namely,

  1. Drywood termites: These type of termites live, feed and nest in undecayed wood which has low moisture content and are found in Hardwood forests. It infests Drywood types of furniture like cupboards, doors, windows, chairs, Tables, and doesn’t require contact with the soil. It builds its nest on the roof materials like the attic and wooden wall support structures In United States, It is found in a narrow strip from Virginia to south Florida and has few members like 10,000 in the colonies compared to subterranean termites.
  2. Dampwood Termites: These types of termites live, feed, and nest on the water damaged – wood (with high moisture content) or the woods which directly rests on the ground. It infests stumps, lumber, tree branches, logs, roof leaks, or the cracked drainpipes that are in direct contact with the ground.
  3. Subterranean termites: These types of termites feed on softwood, books, paper products, cellulose, and plant-based products. It lives and nests in the underground colonies or in moist areas above the ground and contains from 100-1000 members. They construct distinct ‘Mud Tubes’ to access the food sources. They also enter through the cracks in concrete walls, foundations made of hollow blocks, and its the most destructive one costing billions of dollars for repairing the structural damage and widely found in the US.
  4. Formosan termites: These types of termites are also called as super-termites because of the larger size of its colonies and its rapid consumption of wood. It feeds on wood, paper, cardboard, foam insulation boards, plaster, asphalt and thin lead, and copper sheeting. It infests Structures, High-rise condominiums, boats, etc. It lives and nests in tunnels under the ground, with a mature colony containing millions of termites. Though it has its origin in southern China, it has spread worldwide to Japan, Taiwan, Hawaii, South Africa, localized in the southern United States, and causes major damages to the structures, resulting in more repairing costs.
  5. Conehead termites: It gots its name from the cone-shaped head of the termite soldiers which constitutes around 20-30% of the colony members. It feeds on almost anything containing cellulose like trees, shrubs, roots, structural lumber, fence posts, rails, paper products, types of furniture, etc. and nests on ‘Mud Tunnels’ but its wider and more extensive compared to subterranean termites. It is an invasive species from the Caribbean and Panama to Florida in 2001 and now in the southern parts of the state.
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What attracts termites to your home?

Termites are attracted to its food, Moist Environment, or Moves Accidentally.

  • Wood contains Cellulose (Pine, Oak) with high moisture content – Firewood, Lumber, wooden structure.
  • Excess Foliage – Rotten trees, Decayed leaves, Stumps.
  • Tree Limbs in contact with the Roof – Termites make use of this pathway directly from the ground to the roof of your home.
  • Mulches (A layer covering the soil to protect its moisture content )- Grass Clippings, wood Chips, field hay, pine straw, etc.
  • Gutters ( Rainwater pipes installed on the roof ) – The leaves and twigs clog the gutters and that moisture softens the roof helping termites to invade in.
  • Humid Interiors – Leaky pipes, poor airflow inside the house, improper drainages, clogged outlets create Moisture issues.
  • Cracks in Buildings – Hairline cracks are common in Buildings, especially using plaster material.
  • Many termites are accidentally transported from their native habitats through wooden articles like shipping crates, types of furniture, boat timbers, lumber, etc.

Natural Prevention :

  •  To avoid Invasion of termites, stack wood 20 feet away from your home and keep it at least 5
    inches off the ground.
  • Clear up the Excess foliage from your yard/ Garden, especially during the fall season.
  • Regular tree trimming helps to get rid of terminates infesting the Roof.
  • We can reduce the termite invasion by keeping the mulches at least 15 inches from the foundation or Pillar of your home.
  • Clearing up the dirt in the gutters regularly can reduce the terminate getting along the roof of the building.
  • Proper maintenance inside the Home, by fixing the leaking pipes or clearing the clogged outlets will help to reduce the chance of termite invasion.
  • Fixing the cracks with Latex paints or by any other method prevents the termites from entering in.

Alarming Signs of Termite Infestation :

  • Visible Mud Tubes: If you notice the mud tubes or tunnels where subterranean termites travel from the soil to their food source, especially near to your home’s foundation structure, Call for a Pest Control Expert to destroy its colonies.
  • Frass: Frass is the termite droppings and looks like a sawdust or wood shavings, which is found anywhere in the home built with woods. If you see any such frass, call for a professional termite inspection in your home.
  • Flying Termites: whenever you notice the flying termites/ Alates in your home, its an
    indication that the termites established a colony nearby and coming out of their nests to mate. Contact the right pest control professionals for a thorough inspection of your home.
  • Alates Wings: The flying termites discard or shed their wings after it makes a new colony.so If you notice the wings of termites near window sills or anywhere in your yard, call for the professional inspection from pest control experts.
  • Blisters on the floor: If you observe any small holes or blisters on the wooden floor, doors or types of furniture, call for a pest control inspection to know what type of pest makes it, how far is the damage to the building and what are the control measures.
  • Hollowed wood: Termites consume wood from inside out which creates a vacuum space. So if you tap the wooden floor and it sounds hollow, take the help of pest control professionals to exactly know the cause of it.
  • Fallen trees: If you notice any of your backyard trees for small holes or termites droppings on its trunks, take a closer look around the base of the tree. The termite might have destroyed the inner trunk making it weak, dead, and fallen. This is very dangerous if the trees fall on the roof of the building.so call for help right away to ensure the safety of the building.
  • Uneven/ Bubbling Painted surface: This indicates the moisture build-up and it may be due to water damage or termites. Clearly identify the cause of it and seek help if there is any termite infestation on the walls.
  • Outdoor Damage: Observe all the moist and shady spots outside of your home where the wooden structure touches the soil, for any evidence of termite activity. If you see the wooden structure with rough troughs like attacked by a carving knife, then it might be a termite infestation spot. Careful inspection from pest control experts will help to resolve this issue. Once we spot the termites infesting our home, we can try some of the DIY – Home pest control measures like,
  1. Natural sunlight / UV Lamps
  2. Spraying Orange oil
  3. Using wet cardboard boxes as bait
  4. Nematodes – parasitic worms which feed on termites
  5. Vinegar
  6. Sodium borate / Borax powder / Bora-Care
  7. Perimeter trench barrier
  8. Diatomaceous Earth ( DE ) – a fine powder from fossilized algae-like plants
  9. Boric acid
  10. Botanical Insecticides
  11. Botanical Insecticides
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However, always its better to call an expert for a professional inspection on termites at your home. They will help to resolve the infestation issue permanently and you can seek to advise for further maintenance. There are three standard Termite control methods followed by Professionals. They are, Soil treatment – The soil is treated with liquid Termiticide. Wood treatment – Surface sprays, injected sprays and foams, borate treated wood, etc.

termites
termites

Bait treatment – Installing the bait stations around the perimeter of the house to destroy the complete termite colonies. Its often difficult for most of the homeowners to detect them, especially the subterranean termites as it builds its colony deep underground and no visible signs of infestation.If left unnoticed for weeks or months together, it leads to more property damage. According to USDA
The report, approximately 600,000 houses are affected with termite infestation each year in the US and a homeowner who finds termite infestation spends nearly $3000 for fixing the property
damage.

 

The rise in Annual Global Temperatures are expected to accelerate Termite Prolfessional and the Termite bait systems market is projected to grow at a CAGR (COMPOUND ANNUAL GROWTH RATE ) of 5.6% from 2018 to 2023. So, by Proper Maintenance and Routine Inspection annually, we finally overcome this termite issue at our home. Be aware of Termites and save your dream and Memorable home from this silent destroyer.

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