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Archive for the ‘Termites’ Category

What Should Homeowners Do Upon Discovering Termite Damaged Structural Wood Where No Active Termites Seem To Be Present?

Given the high number of termite pest species inhabiting Louisiana, including the highly destructive invasive Formosan subterranean termite, it is not uncommon for residents to find termite damaged structural wood within their home. Finding termite damage in homes built before the mid 20th century is common, and these older homes are abundant in New Orleans and other cities in the state. Most older homes were built in a manner that allows subterranean termite pests easy access structural wood. For example, many older homes were built with untreated lumber that is vulnerable to termite attacks, and most older homes contain structural wood sources that make contact with the soil, allowing subterranean termites direct access to a home’s structural and cosmetic wood sources.

Termite infestations often become particularly heavy in homes that contain lumber that makes contact with the ground soil, as subterranean termites do not need to build mud tubes in order to bypass a home’s stone foundation in these cases, and the presence of mud tubes often serve as the only clear sign that a home is infested with the wood-eating pests. Sometimes during remodeling projects, homeowners locate termite damaged structural wood that appears to have been abandoned by termites. In these cases, it is not always clear whether a home still has a termite infestation. However, when finding structural wood that has sustained termite damage, it is important to have an inspection carried out, even if no live termites are present.

When termite damaged wood is found in a home where no termites seem to be active, the case may be that the home was previously infested, but has since become abandoned by termites, or the previous owners may have had termite treatments carried out within the home. It is also possible that the home could still be infested in other areas. Even when termites seem absent from damaged structural wood, a few signs may indicate that the insects are still active in the area. For example, if the infested wood is particularly moist or damp, the wood is likely to still be infested. The presence of moisture on structural wood can sometimes be seen with the naked eye, but in cases where wood is painted, surface bubbles on the paint and/or stains on wallpaper often indicate an active infestation. If mud tubes can be found on damaged structural wood the tubes should be removed before checking the wood a couple weeks later to see if the mud tubes have been rebuilt. If mud tubes have been rebuilt, then an active infestation still exists.

Have you ever found termite damaged wood in your home?

 

Are The Mud Tubes Built By Subterranean Termites Always Found On The Foundation Of Infested Homes

Subterranean termites are cryptic creatures, as they dwell entirely beneath the ground or within seemingly sound wood sources. Obviously, this makes subterranean termites difficult to detect within homes when compared to detecting the indoor presence of most other types of insect pests. Many homeowners report termite infestations to pest control companies without ever seeing a single termite specimen within or near their home. This is not surprising considering that subterranean termites rapidly parish when exposed to normal climatic conditions. Instead of relying on termite sightings, the presence of mud tubes along a home’s foundation strongly indicates a past or present infestation. This is well known to many homeowners, but what is not as well known is that subterranean termites construct multiple types of mud tubes in addition to the working mud tubes found on the foundation of homes.

A minority of termite infestations are discovered when swarming termites (alates) emerge within a home, but most alates only swarm from indoor colonies a few times during a short time span lasting one to two months per year. The presence of mud tubes, or shelter tubes, as they are also known, is the most common first sign of a subterranean termite infestation within a home. The mud tubes that many homeowners are aware of are called “working tubes.” These are the mud tubes that subterranean termites construct in order to allow them easy access between the ground soil and structural wood. It is not uncommon to find isolated mud tubes that do not make contact with structural wood. These mud tubes are commonly known as either “exploratory” or “migratory” mud tubes, and they are sometimes found in yards. “Drop tubes” connect structural wood to the ground soil, but these mud tubes only allow for one-way traffic. Lastly, “swarm tubes” are constructed in order to allow winged alates to emerge from indoor colonies. Swarm tubes can be found protruding from structural wood where a termite colony dwells, and swarm tubes have also been found emerging from cracks in concrete slabs. Finding termite mud tubes within or around a home does not necessarily mean that an infestation is active, as mud tubes can remain within inaccessible indoor areas after termites have either vacated or have been eradicated from a property. However, in most cases, contacting a pest control professional when finding mud tubes within or around a home turns out to be a wise economic choice.

Have you ever found termite mud tubes within your home?

 

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The Mysterious And Memorable Collapse Of A Historically Significant Structure In New Orleans Was Likely Caused By Termites

Every New Orleans resident knows that termites are tremendously destructive insects within the city and the rest of the state. Destructive termites have always been an issue within the city’s old buildings, but once the invasive Formosan subterranean termite emerged in urban areas of New Orleans, the destruction caused by termites became impossible to miss in the city. For example, during October of 2014, a structure that was more than 200 years old came crashing to the ground right in the middle of a busy intersection within the historic French Quarter. While the cause of the collapse has never been determined with certainty, experts insist that a long lasting and extensive termite infestation in the building played a major part.

The now non-existent building was located on Royale St, and it had been built back in 1801. A day after the incident, the head of the Vieux Carre Commission stated that the building collapsed due to several factors, including rot, water damage, soft bricks, and most of all, termites. Termites are particularly abundant within buildings that are both old and water-damaged, as old buildings were not constructed to be resistant to termite infestations and the destructive insects only establish infestations within buildings that contain high-moisture levels and preferably damp wood. By locating water damaged structural wood, subterranean termites can survive solely within the compromised wood without having to return to the ground soil for water. The building was three stories tall and the first portion to fall was the balcony and part of the facade. Despite efforts to keep the rest of the building standing in order to conduct a controlled demolition, the rest of the facade, as well as the entire roof, came tumbling down the next day. No injuries were reported, but the debris was so abundant that it took weeks to clear the surrounding area. The building’s owner could not be reached.

Were you aware that termite damage could cause infested, or formerly infested buildings to collapse?

Is There Any Way To Prevent Drywood Termites From Infesting Homes?

A total of six subterranean termite species have been found in the state of Louisiana, and all of these species inflict structural damage within the state. One subterranean species, R. tibialis, was collected from Lake Charles a few years ago, and since then, the species has likely spread to other areas of the state. Pest control strategies aim to prevent infestations from occurring, and this is certainly the case when it comes to termite pests, as termiticide and physical barriers effectively prevent subterranean termites from secretly tunneling into properties. However, preventing drywood termite infestations in structures is not so easy, as drywood termites do not dwell within soil; instead, drywood termites infest houses while swarming, which allows the pests to infest wood located everywhere from a home’s shingles to the base of a home’s timber frame. Unless a house is located under a dome, no type of soil barrier can prevent swarming drywood termites (alates) from making contact with a house. This does not mean that homeowners do not have any options when it comes to preventative control methods for drywood termites, as structural wood can be treated with repellent chemicals, and pressure-treated wood can repel termites for a period of time.

Four drywood termite pest species have been documented in Louisiana. These species include southeastern drywood termites, west Indian powderpost termites, western drywood termites, and the dark southern drywood termite. Wood preservatives and pressure-treated woods are sometimes used to build homes in Louisiana, but some drywood termites are more repelled by treated woods than others. The amount of repellent chemicals applied to wood and how deeply these chemicals absorb into wood influences the wood’s susceptibility to termite damage. Rainfall can also cause wood preservative chemicals to run off over time, making the wood vulnerable to termite attacks. Several field studies have been done concerning how well drywood termites are repelled by numerous different wood treatments. However, this testing is still in its infancy, and not all drywood termite species in Louisiana have been subjected to these field tests.

Does your home contain chemically treated or pressure treated wood?

 

How Are Western Drywood Termites Eradicated From Infested Homes?

The western drywood termite is a non-endemic species in Louisiana that is native to the southwestern United States. Most of the structural damage inflicted by this termite species in Louisiana occurs within New Olreans, but the western drywood termite has spread to several cities all over the state. Reproductive alates of this species swarm during the daylight hours during May and June, and occasionally in September and October. This is the most economically significant drywood termite species in the United States, and they frequently infest structural lumber, furniture and dead trees in all states where the species is found. Drywood termite infestations can only be treated by professionals, as the only effective drywood termite control methods that exist either require a license to handle specialized insecticides or extensive technical knowledge needed to operate extermination devices.

Drywood termites are very rarely seen, as colonies are located deep within natural and manufactured wood sources. Drywood termite infestations are typically more difficult to detect than subterranean termite infestations. This is because drywood termites infest structures while swarming, allowing swarmers (alates) to infest any exterior wood source on a home or building, while subterranean termites only enter homes from the ground soil where they usually leave behind mud tubes that indicate their presence in a home. Therefore, while subterranean termite infestations are usually limited to structural wood sources near a home’s foundation, drywood termite infestations can exist anywhere within a home. Drywood termite infestation often become evident when alates emerge from indoor wood sources, but drywood termite colonies often increase in size for years before swarming alates are produced. Homeowners and pest control professionals sometimes locate drywood termite feces (frass) near structural wood sources, but the presence of frass does not necessarily mean that a drywood termite infestation is currently active within a home. Walls and ceilings must be disassembled often in order to fully treat drywood termite infestations.

All drywood termite infestations are either “whole structure” or “localized” infestations. Whole structure infestations are treated by tenting and fumigation an entire structure, or by heating all structural wood within a home to a temperature of 120 degrees or more. Localized drywood termite treatments are only used in cases when pest control professionals are certain that they have located all infested areas of a home. Heat treatments, the use of microwave devices, and electric currents are sometimes used to spot-treat drywood termite infestations. The most common localized drywood termite treatments entail the drilling of holes into infested structural woods in order to inject insecticide dusts, foams and liquids, but these methods are not always effective.

Were you aware that multiple drywood termite species are active within Louisiana?

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