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Archive for the ‘Termites’ Category

How Homeowners Can Discourage Termite Activity On Their Property

Louisiana is home to eight major termite pest species, and the entire state is located within a geographic region where termite pest activity is exceptionally high. The high-rate of termite infestations in Louisiana is due to the abundance and diversity of termite species in the state, as well as the fact that the invasive Formosan subterranean termite is now widespread throughout the entirety of Louisiana. This highly destructive termite species can only be found in California and the southeastern Gulf Coast states. The annual cost of damage inflicted by these termites in the US is around one billion dollars, and half of this annual cost can be attributed to Formosan subterranean termite property damage in Louisiana. All homeowners in Louisiana should have their property inspected for termite infestations at least twice per year, but there are many easy ways in which homeowners can help to keep their home protected from these excessively destructive insect pests.

The manner in which homes are constructed has a major influence on their vulnerability to termite infestations. Modern housing codes require that homes be built with structural features that make termite infestations less likely to occur, but many of the homes in Louisiana pre-date these housing codes. This is why having a termiticide barrier applied to the soil surrounding homes is a particularly important method of preventing termite infestations in Louisiana. Many older homes contain cosmetic or structural wood sources that make contact with the ground soil, which provides subterranean termites with a direct pathway into a home’s timber-frame. Any wood sources like this should be removed, and a space of six inches should always exist between wood and the ground surface. Also, firewood should be stacked at least five feet away from a house, and never stacked against a house.

Ideally, decks and patios should be made of pressure-treated wood that repels termite pests, but under no circumstances should any part of a wood patio, including the steps, make contact with the ground soil; instead, concrete blocks should be used to elevate the base of decks at least 6 inches above the ground surface. Subterranean termites only infest wood sources that are high in moisture content, so making sure that a home is free of plumbing and rainwater leaks is a must, and lawn-irrigation should be kept to a minimum. Clogged gutters can cause rainwater to drain into the wall-voids in homes where structural wood can become compromised by moisture and made attractive to termite pests. Making sure that rainwater drains away from foundations and not into foundations is tremendously important, as all structural wood sources within a home can become damp overtime by water slowly evaporating from wet foundations. Around 90 percent of all termite infestations in homes start after subterranean termite workers access a source of structural or cosmetic wood that makes contact with the ground surface, so removing all natural and finished wood sources that make contact with soil in yards, including dead roots and tree stumps, will go a long way toward preventing a termite infestation from occurring in a home.

Have you ever found termite damaged wood siding on your home?

How Did The Invasive West Indian Powderpost Termite Wind Up In Louisiana?

Cryptotermes brevis is the most widely distributed invasive termite species in the world, as this species has been introduced into more non-native regions around the world than any other invasive termite species, including the highly destructive Formosan subterranean termite. C. brevis is commonly known as the “West Indian powderpost termite,” or the “West Indian drywood termite,” and it has established an invasive population in the Gulf Coast states. This invasive drywood termite species generally inhabits only the southernmost areas of the Gulf Coast states, but in Louisiana, West Indian powderpost termites have been found infesting structures located farther north than Shreveport. According to a three year study that mapped out termite infestations by throughout Louisiana, the western drywood termite and the West Indian powderpost termite are the two most economically significant and destructive drywood termite species out of the four that can be found in the state. The West Indian drywood termite commonly infests structural wood and furniture, and their seasonal mating flights occur during late June and July at around dusk.

There is no telling how long the West Indian drywood termite species has been inhabiting Louisiana, but many experts believe that the species was first introduced into the US at a port in Florida. Specimens were found in Jamaica back in 1853, but experts do not believe that the species is native to the Carribean, and the true origin of this species remains unknown. The most common theory is that this species arrived in the New World on wooden ships back in the 17th century, but this has not been confirmed. The West Indian powderpost termite infests wood almost solely within human dwellings. In fact, only two records exist of this species being found in wood in the natural habitat. This species feeds on the sapwood and heartwood of both softwoods and hardwoods, and, unlike many termite species, they prefer sound dry wood with a low-moisture content. This is why West Indian powderpost termite colonies are often found infesting structural wood in new homes. These termites can establish multiple colony nesting sites within a structure, making whole-structure fumigation the most reliable method of eradicating infestations. The total annual cost of controlling West Indian powderpost termites in the US amounts to 120 million dollars, and these termites are particularly common in New Orleans.

Have you, or anyone you know, ever experienced a drywood termite infestation?

The Most Common Access Points Where Winged Termites Enter Homes

Subterranean termites are the termites that most people are familiar with, as these destructive insects are the most widespread and destructive group of wood-eating pests in the United States. Experts say that 80 percent of all annual termite control and damage repair costs can be attributed to subterranean termites. Unlike drywood and dampwood termites, subterranean termites can be found in every US states except for Alaska, and Louisiana is home to five subterranean termite species. Subterranean termites infest homes from the ground up, as they dwell within soil where they encounter wood scraps, plant matter, dead trees, tree stumps, and sometimes, houses. Cosmetic and/or structural wood that makes contact with the ground-soil provides subterranean termites with convenient access to an endless source of appetizing wood within a home.

Today, housing codes require that new houses be built in a manner that provides subterranean termites with the fewest entry points into a home as possible. Numerous other anti-termite housing design specifications have become law, which has certainly helped to reduce the annual number of subterranean termite infestations. However, drywood termites in the south and southwest US invade homes as winged termite swarmers (alates), and not from the ground up like worker termites in subterranean colonies. Louisiana is home to four drywood termite species, and pest control professionals in the state are often asked where on a home do winged termite alates usually gain access indoors.

Unlike most subterranean termites species, drywood termites infest both softwood and hardwood, and they can make initial contact with a home in a variety of places. The most common entry points that drywood termite alates use to enter homes include attic vents, beneath roof eaves, door frames, window frames, the ends of rafters, exposed beams, fascia boards, trim wood, bottom boards of wood siding, foundation beams and floor joists. The chemicals and/or electronic equipment, like microwaves and heat-conductors, used to treat drywood termite infestations can only be legally used by pest control professionals, so DIY control efforts do not end well.

Have you ever spotted a termite swarm near your home?

Is The Formosan Subterranean Termite The Only Non-Native Termite Species In Louisiana?

Around 50 termite species have been documented in the United States, but few of these species are categorized as pests to structures. Unsurprisingly, the most widely distributed termite species in the US is also the most destructive. This species is commonly known as the “eastern subterranean termite,” and it can be found in all states east of the Mississippi River, as well as in several states west of the Mississippi. Eastern subterranean termites are abundant in Louisiana where they used to be the most economically damaging termite species in the state until the invasive Formosan subterranean termite species took its place around 30 years ago. It is well known that Formosan subterranean termites are non-native insects in the US that likely arrived at a Texas port from ships that departed Southeast Asia immediately after World War Two. Today, Formosan termites are by far the most destructive wood-infesting insects in Louisiana where they inflict hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage each year. Residents of the state need no introduction to Formosan subterranean termites, but few residents are aware that Formosans are not the only non-native termite species that frequently infest homes in Louisiana.

Formosan subterranean termites were first discovered in the US back in the 1950s when colonies were recovered from the ground soil and within dead trees near a Houston shipping port. During the next three decades, very few homes were documented as becoming infested with Formosan termites in the country, which led experts to believe that the species had been unable to survive within a foreign environment. However, the unprecedented destruction caused by Formosan termites in New Orleans within just a few short years during the 1980s proved that these non-native insect pests had established an invasive habitat in North America for the first time. While Formosan subterranean termites are certainly destructive in Louisiana, the state is home to eight other termite species that infest homes frequently in the state. Just like Formosan termites, the non-native west Indian powderpost termite species was inadvertently transported into the US via maritime trade routes sometime before 1919. This drywood termite species can be found in the southeastern US, and they cause much destruction throughout Louisiana.

The west Indian powderpost termite, while certainly exotic, is not strictly categorized as an “invasive” species in Louisiana. Generally, in order for a non-native insect species to be considered invasive, a species has to cause some degree of ecological harm within a new and foreign habitat. For example, red-imported fire ants are invasive in the southeast US because they are not native to the region, and they displace native insect populations and destroy native plants that are essential for maintaining ecosystem balance. Formosan subterranean termites are invasive in the subtropical Gulf Coast region of the US because they cannot be eradicated from areas where colonies have already been established, and they displace native termite species, such as the eastern subterranean termite. Two other termite species in the state, midwestern subterranean termites and western drywood termites, are not technically native to Louisiana’s ecosystem, but they are native to nearby states. Since these two species do not have a negative effect on Louisiana’s natural environment, they are considered merely “non-endemic” species in Louisiana as opposed to invasive species.

Have you ever encountered a termite swarm more than once within a week?

There Are Two Types Of Formosan Subterranean Termite Infestations Within Structures

There Are Two Types Of Formosan Subterranean Termite Infestations Within Structures, And Every Louisiana Homeowner Needs To Know How These Two Types Differ

Louisiana is home to both subterranean and drywood termite species, but the former is responsible for most infestations within houses and buildings in the state. The most destructive subterranean termite in the state is, of course, the invasive Formosan subterranean termite. There are many valid reasons for categorizing Formosans as “subterranean” termites, and the species’ common name literally contains the word “subterranean.” However, the Formosan subterranean termite exhibits certain foraging and nesting behaviors that are not consistent with the behaviors that characterize subterranean termites. Considering the tremendous degree of destruction that Formosan subterranean termites inflict upon structures in Louisiana, it is important for all residents to understand how Formosan subterranean termite infestations can differ radically from infestations established by all other subterranean termite species.

Subterranean termites maintain an underground habitat where foraging workers sometimes stumble upon timber-framed homes, and the destructive pests always invade homes from the ground soil. To avoid deadly contact with dry outside air, subterranean termites construct mud tubes in order to consistently travel between the structural wood that they consume and their ground nests where they acquire water from soil. The presence of vertically situated mud tubes on a home’s foundation is usually the first sign of a subterranean termite infestation, but the Formosan subterranean termite is the only subterranean species in the US that can establish isolated indoor carton nests that are not connected to the ground soil.

These carton nests are spongy in texture and are made from a mixture of water, soil and fecal matter that hardens as it dries. These nests are usually located on roofs, in attics, within wall voids and beneath floorboards on the upper levels of a structure, which is why they are usually referred to as “aerial nests.” Since isolated aerial nests are not connected to the moist ground soil where subterranean termites acquire water, these nests are always located in areas of a home where water can be acquired. These indoor water sources come from rainfall, pipe leaks, air conditioner vents or some other source. Formosan subterranean termites can enter the upper levels of a home by traveling along tree branches that make contact with a house’s exterior walls or roof. One study found that 25 percent of all Formosan subterranean termite infestations in single family homes are aerial infestations, and another study found that aerial infestations account for half of all Formosan subterranean termite infestations found in highrise buildings.

Have you ever found an active on inactive aerial Formosan subterranean termite nest within your home?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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