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Archive for the ‘Termites’ Category

Why DIY Termite Treatments Don’t Compare To Professional Termite Treatments

Annual termite control costs and structural damages exceed five billion dollars per year in the US, and a significant portion of this damage is inflicted upon structures located in Louisiana. No state in the US sees more Formosan subterranean termite damage than Louisiana, and this is largely why the state sees such a high amount of termite destruction. Although this extremely destructive species has established an invasive population in several Gulf Coast states, as well as California, the Formosan subterranean termite quickly managed to gain a foothold in New Orleans where it continues to damage structures in the city, and the rest of the state, to this day.

In addition to the Formosan subterranean termite, several other termite species damage structures in the state as well, notably the eastern subterranean termite. Due to dense termite populations that overlap in many areas of Louisiana, it is tremendously important for residents of the state to have regular termite inspections conducted on their property. Unsurprisingly, do-it-yourself termite inspections will not suffice to ensure that a home in Louisiana is free of termites, but this does not mean that residents won’t know if the insects find their way into a home.

Subterranean termites are responsible for nearly all termite infestations within homes and buildings in Louisiana, and they often construct mud tubes that are commonly spotted along the foundation of infested homes. If a homeowner should find these formations, then a pest controller should be contacted as soon as possible. Pest control professionals carry out thorough internal and external termite inspections on homes in the state, and they possess the training and equipment necessary to pinpoint infested areas of structural wood. Pest controllers often find tiny mud-dots on wall-plaster and “swarming-castles” in door frames and window sills that almost always go unnoticed by homeowners. Subterranean termites also eat into structural lumber at points where the lumber pieces connect, making infestations very difficult to notice without the proper tools. Heavily infested wood can sometimes be pinpointed when homeowners stumble upon wood that has been hollowed out. Wood that has been hollowed by termites normally comes to a homeowner’s attention after the affected wood is tapped or walked over.

Have you ever found an area of structural lumber that had sustained termite damage?

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?

Wood Construction In Basements Make Homes Particularly Vulnerable To Subterranean Termite Infestations

Detecting and eliminating termites within basements is often quite difficult for pest control professionals, especially in basements that contain untreated structural wood, and hollow-block walls. In older basement homes important structural wood components may be located beneath the ground surface where they can be easily accessed by subterranean termites. These important structural wood components include girders, joists and sills, and they often become decayed due to soil moisture, making these wood components even more appetizing to subterranean termites.

Hollow-concrete blocks are commonly used to build basement and foundation walls, and each block contains two or three voids that subterranean termite workers can exploit to reach structural wood. Pest control professionals cannot visually inspect voids in hollow-block walls for the presence of subterranean termite workers, and brick masonry walls are also problematic during inspections, as workers can travel through the dirt sandwiched between two brick walls.

Poured-concrete walls are common in newly constructed homes, and many people incorrectly believe that poured-concrete walls are impenetrable to subterranean termite workers. This belief stems from the fact that poured concrete walls do not contain voids or masonry cracks that provide workers with access to structural wood. However, poured-concrete walls develop cracks overtime due to settling, and workers can easily travel through these cracks. Poured-concrete walls also allow workers to travel through expansion joints, gaps around utility cables, and through dirt voids in cases where two concrete walls are adjacent to one another.

Finished basements may not be as susceptible to subterranean termite infestations as rubble and dirt floor basements, but finished basements are particularly hard to adequately inspect for termites. For example, drywall, paneling and other wall coverings prevent pest control professionals from visually inspecting foundation walls, sill plates, headers and other substructural wood components. In some cases, pest control professionals remove drop-ceiling tiles from finished basements in order to visually inspect structural wood elements in the ceiling where subterranean termite damage is likely to occur.

Have you ever had a termite inspection carried out in your basement?



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?


The Most To Least Destructive Drywood Termite Species In Louisiana

Kalotermes approximatus is a very common termite pest species found in the southeastern US. This native species is commonly known as the “dark southern drywood termite,” and as the “dark southeastern drywood termite.” The dark southern drywood termite is most abundant along the Gulf Coast and its distribution extends from Texas to North Carolina, but this species is particularly destructive in Houston, New Orleans, Mobile and Miami. The dark southern drywood termite is often compared to the light southern drywood termite (I. snyderi) in terms of pest behavior, but the latter is largely recognized as being a more common pest of homes than the former. According to a 2002 scientific survey of termite colonies throughout residential areas of Louisiana, the light southern drywood termite is a more common pest of homes than the dark southern drywood termite, but the latter infests homes throughout the entire state, while the former is largely limited to homes in the southern half of the state. The two most economically significant drywood termite pest species in Louisiana are light southern drywood termites and invasive powderpost termites (C. brevis).

The western drywood termite (I. minor) is native to the southwest US where it is the most destructive drywood termite species in the region. This species was introduced into Louisiana around two to three decades ago, and since then, the western drywood termite has been responsible for a growing number of structural infestations in the state. The researchers who carried out the above mentioned 2002 termite survey in Louisiana were surprised to find that western drywood termite colonies outnumbered those of the native dark southern drywood termite. Seasonal mating swarms of western drywood termites emerge during the day from April to June in Louisiana, but swarms often emerge within infested structures during the winter season. The dark southern drywood termite swarms during the spring and early summer, and to a lesser extent during the fall. Powderpost and light southern drywood termites are known for swarming as early as spring and as late as fall.

Has a swarm of drywood termites ever emerged within your home, or on your property?




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