If you’re reading this article, its probably because you are dealing with Termites! Termites are an invasive critter here in Houston that create millions of dollars of damage. Sometimes, Termites damage your home, for years, without you noticing. But Houston is no stranger to Termites, overall we rank number 8 in the United States for Termite populations. Unfortunately, its not a question of “Am I going to have a problem with Termites, it is… WHEN am I going to have a problem with Termites. And if you are like most homeowners, you want to protect your home from Termites long before you ever have a problem with them! In this article, we explore what we do here at CPL Pest Control to protect your home from Termites and ensure your home stays Termite FREE!
What Kinds of Termites Do We Have Here In Houston?
Here in the Houston area, we experience three different types of Termites. Formosan, Subterranean, and Drywood. Some areas of Houston are more attractive to certain types of Termites that make local regions hot beds for Termites. For example, The Heights is Drywood Termite Capital! It seems as if every home in The Heights has a problem with Drywood Termites. Also, it seems as if Montgomery County experiences the most Formosan Termite activity. What drives a Termite to your home or region has to do with climate, wind direction, water table, and so many other features. But lets begin with a discussion of each Termite below and how we treat each specific Termite.
Subterranean termites are some of the most destructive insect pests of wood in the world. They cause billions of dollars in damage each year and can severely damage a family’s most valuable possession—their home.
Subterranean termites feed on the cellulose found in wood and grasses. In nature, subterranean termites are beneficial because they break down the cellulose in wood into usable nutrients and recycle the carbon in wood to produce humus, which enriches the soil. Therefore, termites are extremely important in the ecosystem. Problems occur when termites attack the wooden elements of homes and other structures. The presence of termites is often not apparent because their activity is hidden behind wallboards, siding, or wood trim. Homeowners here in Houston should watch for subterranean termites and take precautions against infestations. To minimize termite damage, it is helpful to be able to identify them, know something about their life cycle, be able to recognize signs of infestation, and know about preventive and control measures.
Subterranean Termites are in an Order of insects called Isoptera, which literally means “equal wings.” Their two sets of wings are the same size and shape, which is unusual among insects. Only the adult reproductives, known as “swarmers,” have wings . The female primary reproductives are queens and the males are 2 kings. Swarmers are about 3/8 inch long and are usually active in the early spring. Both the queens and kings go through the swarming process as they leave old colonies to form new ones.
Swarmers (alates) are identified by the general size and color of the body, the translucent (clear) wings, the patterns of the veins in the wings, and the time of year when swarming occurs. When sending swarmers for identification, they must be put in a vial with 70% alcohol to keep them from dehydrating and to keep the wings intact.
The other termite caste used to identify a species is the soldier caste. Soldiers have enlarged heads with protruding mouthparts (mandibles) that are used to defend the colony from invaders . There are approximately equal numbers of female and male soldiers in a colony, but they are not thought to be involved in reproduction. The shape of the head and the size and configuration of the teeth on the mandibles are important for species identification. The immature castes of native subterranean termites include the larvae, workers and nymphs. They are generally not used in identification because it is difficult to differentiate the various termite species at these stages of the life cycle. Depending on the age and development, these individuals will vary from 1/16 to 1/4 inch in length.
Termites often swarm at about the same time as some species of ants, and the two types of insects are sometimes confused. Most ant species are not wood destroying insects, so it is necessary to distinguish them from each other.
How Do We Treat Subterranean Termites And Formosan Termites?
Here at CPL Pest Control we deliver the best in the Termite industry at eliminating Termites. We want to make sure your home stays free from Termites! So below, we will discuss what we do to treat your home for Subterranean Termites.
- Pre Treat Soil Treatment – The best type of Subterranean Termite protection is a treatment that is known as a “Pre Treat Soil Treatment” This involves treating the soil before the foundation is poured at your home to prevent Termites in the future. In doing so, we eliminate the risk of Termites in the future because the entire home is sitting on a protected barrier. Subterranean Termites travel from the ground up. Thus, a chemical barrier protects your home by preventing Termites from crawling up through splint joints as your home foundation begins to settle. Termites need the width of a dime to squeeze through and get to a food source.
- Liquid Barrier Treatment – After Subterranean Termites have been discovered in your home or place of business it is very important that the problem be eliminated! We believe in the Liquid Barrier Treatment to prevent Termite Activity in the future. Essentially, what we do is place a barrier around your home eliminating the possibility of Termites from crossing it. What we do is, Trench where Soil is the Adjacent feature to the home and Drill into the concrete where cement is the adjacent feature. This allows for us to Inject the ground with Termiticide. By injecting the ground with termiticide we place this liquid barrier around the home. The Termiticide then bonds with the soil and any termite that attempts to cross it, is eliminated. We use the best product on the market to treat for Termites. A product by the name of Termidor. Termidor is leading the industry in Termite Prevention treatments. By using the best product in the industry and attacking with the best possible treatment solution, we are able to offer a 5 Year Guarantee to this treatment. Check out the video below that explains how we eliminate Termites!
Dry Wood Termites:
Drywood termites are found throughout Texas, with the highest concentrations along the Gulf Coast. Subterranean termites live in the soil, while drywood termites live in sound, dry wood above ground level. They need no contact with soil because the wood they digest provides moisture needed to survive.
Like ants and bees, termites are social insects that form colonies. A pair of reproductive termites, called a female or “queen” and a male or “king” mate and start a new colony or nest in a suitable wood habitat. In structures drywood termites prefer to nest under wooden roof shingles, eaves or siding. The pair mates and the queen begins to lay eggs. When the newly hatched termites are large enough to consume wood, they form a wingless worker caste that forages, tends to the nest and feeds the other termites. It is the workers that damage wood. When workers mature, they can become either soldiers or reproductives. The soldier caste protects and defends the colony from outside invaders such as ants and other termites. In late August and early September, reproductives develop wings and swarm from the nest. Within a few minutes after swarming, the male and female termites pair up, shed their wings and begin to search for a suitable nest site. Ants often swarm at the same time of year as termites do.
There are three common species of drywood termites in Texas. They can be identified by looking for particular characteristics on either reproductives (swarmers) or soldier termites. Reproductives of the most common species, Incisitermes snyderi, are 7 ⁄16 inch long; light yellow with clear, uniformly transparent uncolored wings; and they swarm at night. Reproductives of the second species, Cryptotermes brevis, are similar to Incistitermes snyderi. The third species, Incisitermes minor, is slightly longer (9 ⁄16 inch); and reproductives have dark bodies and yellow, brown or colorless wings; and they swarm in the daytime.. Soldiers of both Incisitermes species are about 5 ⁄16 inches long and have dark yellow-brown heads armed with strong mandibles projecting to the front.
Signs of infestation
Usually, the first sign of a drywood termite infestation is the presence of winged reproductives swarming from small openings (kick holes) in the surface of wood. These termites lose their wings quickly after swarming, but the wings are important for proper identification of drywood termites. If swarmers are found inside a structure, then the colony is almost certainly in the structural timbers of the building. If termites are found outdoors, they may have come either from within the structure or from nearby timber or brush.
A drywood termite infestation can be confirmed by inspecting the structural wood in the building. These termites consume both the soft springwood and the harder summerwood of timbers, giving their galleries a smooth sculptured appearance. The galleries also contain fecal pellets. These characteristics can help distinguish drywood termite damage from that caused by other kinds of termites. For example, subterranean termites usually consume only the springwood, leaving alternating layers of damaged and undamaged wood. The galleries of the subterranean termite also contain soil. Formosan termites consume summerwood, as do drywood termites, but their galleries contain no fecal pellets. Before buying antique and other used furniture, inspect it for signs of termite infestation or damage. Look for holes or accumulations of drywood termite pellets under the furniture, in drawers or on interior horizontal surfaces.
How Do We Treat For Dry Wood Termites?
There are many localized treatment methods available that include both chemical and nonchemical options. For liquid and dust insecticides to be effective, termites must make contact with them or ingest them. Localized treatments should be applied only by licensed applicators. Home-use products are not effective. Depending on the material used for localized treatments, laboratory and field studies have shown considerable variation in their effectiveness in controlling drywood termites. Research indicates that if you correctly locate the colony and get the chemical or nonchemical treatment directly onto the termites, the effectiveness of control will be high. Botanical-based products (e.g., orange oil and neem oil) have been tried, but recent lab and field tests from two universities question the efficacy of at least d-limonene.
There are four nonchemical options for drywood termite control with localized or spot application, including heat, which is used for both spot and whole-structure treatments. The advantages and disadvantages discussed for heat as a whole-structure treatment also apply to spot treatments.
Microwave devices are also available for control. Microwaves kill termites by causing fluids inside their cells to boil, which destroys cell membranes; in short, the termites are cooked inside the wood. There are few firms now offering microwave treatments. One advantage of microwaves is their relative portability; another is that they leave no chemical residue. When using microwaves, however, detection accuracy is critical to success. Microwaves may damage the surface or interior of wooden boards, depending on the power of the device; the wattage or power of microwaves may vary from several hundred to more than 10,000 watts. Lab studies revealed no relationship between increasing microwave wattage and drywood termite mortality. As with heat treatments, it may be difficult to use microwaves to heat areas with potential heat sinks to high enough temperatures for effective control.
High voltage electricity, or electrocution, is another nonchemical option. The device used emits high voltage (90,000 volts) but a low current (less than 0.5 amps). Death to drywood termites occurs by electric shock, although delayed mortality may also occur from the destruction of intestinal protozoa. The advantage of electrocution is that the equipment is portable. The limitations include detection accuracy and possible reduced efficacy from the interfering actions of common building materials (e.g., metal, concrete, and glass). If drill holes are used to enhance the flow of the current into wood, some damage occurs to wall coverings, walls, and structural wood members.
Wood replacement is another remedial treatment option. However, similar to other localized treatments, its effectiveness is highly dependent on detection accuracy, as well as the extent and location of the infestation. Furthermore, if the infested wood is load-bearing either an architect, engineer, and/or general contractor should be consulted; and building permits may be necessary, adding expense. Lastly, the use of insect pathogens and parasites directed at drywood termite control has been limited, and most attempts have been reported as failures.
Long-term Preventive Treatments
There are several approaches to preventing drywood termites from attacking uninfested wood. Methods include chemical treatments, pressure-treated wood, barriers, and resistant wood species. Wood preservatives and pressure-treated wood (i.e., chemically treated wood that is green and sometimes brown in color) are commonly used for structural pest prevention in Texas. However, efficacy can be less than expected due to differences in wood destroying pest susceptibility, concentration and penetration of active ingredients in wood, the degree of drilled holes and carpentry cuts in lumber used for installation leading to breaches in chemical barrier, and leaching of chemical from exterior applications due to rain.
Currently, dozens of chemical products are registered in federal and state databases for long-lasting prevention against drywood termite infestations. Drawbacks with some chemical preventive treatments may include damage from drill holes, unsightly appearance from applying dusts, and potential hazards of some products to applicators.
If you’re having problems with Termites give us a call today! If you’re not sure what types of Termites you are dealing with, give us a call! If you want to protect your home from Termites give us a call! Call today and get your FREE Consultation and Quote! Call 281-683-6737, as always, ask for Chris!
If you made it this far…. THANKS FOR READING!