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Termites can cause significant damage to your home.

Termites can cause significant damage to your home. These tiny pests cost homeowners billions of dollars yearly for home repair, reconstruction, and pest control services. Unfortunately, termites are tenacious and can remain unseen. If you find termites or any signs of termite infestation, you should call a professional pest control service as soon as possible.

Where do termites come from?

How do you get termites? They get you! Termites are not unlike other pests, such as ants, cockroaches, or crawling insects looking to get into your house for food, water, and shelter. They need wood, cellulose products, and water to survive.

Termites are in search of suitable habitats. According to Cornell University College of Agriculture, the Termite diet is cellulose fiber, aka wood. Being sensitive to moisture and temperature, their preferred habitat is below ground level in old wood or tree stumps or at ground level, where a structure moderates soil temperature and humidity. 

Termites can feed on above-ground wood in structures by creating mud tubes that maintain moisture and serve as bridges to these areas. New termite colonies are formed when spring-emerging queens and kings mate in a small chamber they excavate in the soil or in wood. Workers hatch first to build the colony, raise new young, and feed the king and queen, as well as soldier termites who are unable to feed themselves. 

Workers and soldiers avoid sunlight. Queens can live multiple years and continue to lay eggs. It can take a colony several years to produce new winged termites that will emerge in spring swarms (February to May) to start the cycle over again.

Their main diet is wood, and any wet or rotten wood, newspapers stored in a dark basement, house framing, or firewood draws termites into and around your home.   

Types of termites

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many brown winged termites on cement

In New York, we have subterranean termites and swarmers.  Swarmers can have black bodies, be should not be confused with black carpenter ants. Termites can also appear tan or beige in color and sometimes red.

Subterranean termites

Subterranean termites make tubes from soil particles, saliva, and feces. Subterranean termites are the primary termite pest in the northeast. Termite workers, the group that feeds on wood, have a high moisture requirement, forcing them to stay in contact with soil moisture. Therefore, termites must feed on the wood directly with the soil or create mud tubes to connect the soil to suitable wood. As a result, most problems originate in areas where the home contacts the soil: beams, pillars, or other structural supports. If these are constructed of wood, then termites can directly infest them. If they are metal, stone, or any other material, termite tubes will be needed to access the structural wood above. Tubes can be hidden inside support structures such as concrete hollow blocks and hollow metal supports.

Termite swarmers

Spring will soon be here, and the subterranean termite swarmers will emerge from their colonies to breed.

Swarmers, also known as ‘reproductives’, have two pairs of wings that lie flat over the abdomen when not used. In the springtime, after the last freeze – usually, when temperatures reach about 70 degrees – the young adult male and female swarmers emerge from their nests in large groups. The female termites release ‘mating pheromones,’ much like perfume, to entice male termites. Once the male locates an alluring female, they break off their wings, symbolizing that they are a couple. The new couple then selects a nest location, mate, and become king and queen of a new colony. The queen has been known to live for 30 or more years.

The swarmers shed their wings and are often the only visible sign of termite existence. However, finding the wings is a sure sign of an infestation.

How to tell if you have termites

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termite damage rotten wood eat nest destroy

Termites can be unseen, but telltale signs exist. According to the EPA, The first step in prevention is to be on the alert for termites. They rarely emerge from the soil, mud tubes, or food sources through which they are tunneling. Most people are only aware they have termites once they see a swarm or come across damage during construction.

Some of the ways to discover if you have termites are listed below:

  • Examine, by probing, exposed wood for hollow spots (using a flathead screwdriver or similar tool).
  • Identify termite swarms (sometimes ant swarms are mistaken as termites).

 We are often asked, “What do termites sound like?” Termites, when active, sound like a clicking or tapping sound on your walls. Ironically termite workers are blind and deaf and use sound to communicate and warn each other of an imminent threat.  When the termites eat a great deal of food, the walls or wooden area become hollow, and the sound is dull. A homeowner will most certainly be able to hear termite sounds.

Other ways to tell if you have termites include the following:

  • The presence of mud tubes or narrow tunnels located around the stone foundations of a wooden structure. The tubes assist the termites as a road inside the structure.
  • Bowing floorboards reflect the damage of the termites beneath them.
  • Drywood termites often enter at the roofline where water can soften the wood or basements and bathrooms where leaky fixtures present both a water source and rotted wood for feeding.

Can you have termites in the winter?

Termites are active all year long, even in the winter. They remain active in a nest that they have created much deeper in the ground. The warmer temperatures allow them to continue damaging your home- virtually unseen. Winter is an excellent time to treat them because their activities have slowed, and their patterns are predictable.

What to do if you find termites

If you find signs in your home, please do not attempt to treat them. A professional pest control service is best to inspect your home, inside and out, for signs of an infestation. Once the treatment is underway, the best method of termite control is prevention, first and foremost.

  • Avoid water accumulation near the home’s foundation, as these pests are attracted to moisture.
  • Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters, and splash blocks. Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation.
  • Never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the yard.
  • Additionally, be sure to seal cracks and crevices in the home’s foundation to keep termites out.
  • Always trim back trees and shrubs from your home. This will help reduce termite activity and other pests that can cause structural damage.
  • Never, ever keep firewood in or next to your home.

Most importantly, eliminate wood contact with the soil, and maintain a one-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building.

What can I do about termite damage?

Treatment for termites requires more than a topical application. Experience and knowledge of termite behavior and life cycle are critical to eradicating termites from your home.

Contact us for a free home inspection. We give you our word that our services are guaranteed to treat your pest and wildlife infestations and problems. Furthermore, we offer a 100% guarantee to redo the treatment if we do not solve your insect, pest, or wildlife problems.

Pest Control, Mold Remediation | Central New York

 

 

 

Resources: Cornell University College of Agriculture, Pestworld,

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