Call

Archive for the ‘Termites’ Category

Why Proper Ventilation Alone Is Not Enough To Prevent Subterranean Termites From Infesting Structural Wood Within Crawl Spaces

Subterranean termites dwell in moist soil beneath the ground surface where workers forage away from their colony nesting sites. Generally, subterranean termites feed on natural sources of rotting and woody plant debris, such as dead roots, twigs, and bark. Occasionally, however, subterranean termite workers stumble upon timber-framed homes that offer enough wood to feed numerous generations of subterranean termite pests. Due to their high-moisture habitat within ground soil, subterranean termites are highly dependent on moist conditions in order to survive, and it is for this reason that the destructive insect pests favor damp and decayed structural wood over sound and dry structural wood as a food source.

Many homeowners may assume that the structural lumber components that make up their home have not become compromised by moisture saturation, but it does not take much moisture absorption to make structural wood vulnerable to subterranean termite attacks. Naturally, subterranean termites will readily feed on structural lumber that has become directly exposed to free water as a result of plumbing or rainwater leaks, but exposure to a few years of air humidity is enough to make structural wood vulnerable to subterranean termite attacks. This is especially true in Louisiana and other subtropical southeastern states where humidity levels are excessively high year round.

Of all areas within a home, the structural lumber components that become saturated with moisture most rapidly include columns, support piers, floor joists, beams, and subflooring within crawl spaces. This is because evaporating ground water becomes trapped within crawl spaces where it builds up and absorbs into structural wood. Spreading a plastic or vinyl sheet over the ground soil in crawl spaces will minimize the amount of water vapor that rises into structural lumber components. In order to maintain proper ventilation, vegetation should not obstruct crawl space openings, but ventilation alone is not sufficient to protect a home from subterranean termite infestations, as outside air is also quite humid. However, using a dehumidifier to maintain a relative humidity level between 55 and 65 percent is ideal for preventing wood in crawl spaces and other indoor areas from becoming vulnerable to subterranean termite infestations.

Have you taken measures to reduce the relative humidity in your crawl space?

 

Which Attributes Make Formosan Subterranean Termites The Most Destructive Insect Pests In The US

To say that one particular termite species is more or less “destructive” than any other termite species can be misleading. For example, one colony of invasive Formosan subterranean termites will damage wood more rapidly than one colony of native eastern subterranean termites. Despite this, experts claim that the eastern subterranean termite is the most destructive termite species in the US. This claim is true when considering that the eastern subterranean termite is the most widespread termite species in the country, and therefore, they cause the greatest amount of property destruction annually in the US. The Formosan subterranean termite’s habitat, on the other hand, does not extend far beyond the Gulf Coast states, so while Formosans may be the most “destructive” termite species, they are not the most “economically significant” termite species in the country. If Formosan subterranean termites were to become as widely distributed as eastern subterranean termites in the US, then Formosan termites would easily become the most destructive and economically significant termites in the country.

There are several factors that make Formosan subterranean termites a remarkably destructive termite species, the most significant of which is this species’ superior ability to spatially orient large colony networks and their habit of incorporating unrelated Formosan colonies into these networks in order to cover greater territory. Individual Formosan workers do not consume wood at a greater rate than eastern subterranean termite workers, but the former lives in colonies that contain between 2 and 10 million termites, while all other subterranean termite species in the US inhabit colonies that contain between 20,000 and 1 million termites. After a pair of reproductive swarmers (alates) of the Formosan species initiate a new colony, the colony gradually expands to cover an area of 50 square meters around the original nest. This species also accepts unrelated Formosans from other colonies as new nestmates, which not only expands their territory, but it also makes colonies more genetically diverse, which enhances their vigor as wood-destroying insect pests.

Do you believe that Formosan subterranean termite colonies are present on your property?

 

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?

 

 

 

Where Do Drywood Termite Infestations Usually Begin, And How Do They Access Structural Wood In Attics And Roofs

Louisiana is home to eight destructive termite pest species, four of which are subterranean species that dwell below the ground, and the other four are drywood termite species that dwell solely within single pieces of above ground wood. Unlike subterranean termites, which see foraging workers infest homes from the ground up, drywood termite colonies do not contain foraging workers. This is because drywood termites live within their own food source, making foraging unnecessary. In order for drywood termites to spread to new areas, winged termites (alates) emerge from drywood termite colonies during swarming season in order to mate and establish new colonies as king and queen.

Alates usually establish new colonies within natural wood sources, like logs and tree stumps, but occasionally, they establish new colonies within the exterior and/or interior wood of houses. Since alates are fragile and cannot bore into wood as effectively as their nymphal offspring, they often nestle into superficial cracks and crevices on the surface of wood. Shortly after alates initiate a new colony, their first born nymphal offspring bore deeper into wood in order to accommodate new colony members. For example, many drywood termite colonies are first initiated on or behind siding, or in wood beneath shingles, and nymphal offspring expand the colony by boring deeper into wood, which often brings them into the interior of homes. In other cases, drywood termite alates fly directly into houses through open windows or attic vents where they initiate a colony in structural wood or finished wood items, like furniture.

Since drywood termite colonies are located within single wood items, while subterranean termite colonies are located in the ground where foraging territory is basically infinite, drywood termite colonies are naturally much smaller than subterranean termite colonies. Generally, mature drywood termite colonies contain a few thousand individual termites, while mature subterranean termite colonies contain anywhere from 20,000 to well over 1 million individual termites. Due to their smaller colony size, drywood termites do not inflict damage to wood as rapidly as subterranean termites, but drywood termite infestations are more difficult to detect, as they can be located anywhere on, or within a home.

Have you ever noticed signs of a drywood termite infestation in your home?

How Do Pest Control Professionals Address Indoor Aerial Nests Inhabited By Formosan Subterranean Termites

Since Formosan subterranean termites are invasive in the US, and do not belong to North America’s native Reticulitermes genus of subterranean termites, it should not be surprising to learn that this destructive species has some unique nest-building habits. Like all subterranean termites, Formosan subterranean termites dwell beneath the ground where foraging workers establish infestations in structural wood. Unlike native subterranean termites, Formosans are capable of building permanent above ground nests. These nests are known as “aerial nests,” and they can sometimes be found on the roofs of homes and even atop high-rise buildings. In most cases, Formosans establish aerial nests in wall voids and beneath floorboards on the top floors of homes. Aerial nests are often located beneath bathroom, kitchen or attic floors where stray water provides the nesting termites with the moisture they need to survive when not in contact with moist ground soil. The Formosan subterranean termite’s habit of constructing aerial nests makes professional inspections lengthy and complicated in areas where this termite is invasive.

In one case, a pest control professional discovered tiny blowout holes in the corner of a customer’s living room ceiling and small amounts of dirt on the floor below. The pest control professional followed evidence that led to vinyl siding on the home’s exterior. After removing the siding and metal flashing, the full extent of the infestation was clear to see. Unfortunately, the protective silicone and flashing had deteriorated, allowing rainwater to seep behind the exterior wall. Since subterranean termites require copious amounts of moisture in order to thrive, the rainwater seepage allowed the termite infestation to advance rapidly. It was clear that the infestation had been initiated on the exterior wall,  and from there, the termites burrowed into the wall void and into the living room ceiling.

This infestation was obviously initiated by swarming alates rather than ground-dwelling workers.

Formosan alates rarely establish aerial infestations due to their need for moisture, which is readily available in soil. However, in this particular case, the water seepage had already caused structural wood behind the damaged siding to become damp enough to support a growing Formosan colony. After removing the carton nest and damaged wood, the pest control professional drilled small holes into the exterior wall in order to inject insecticide foam into the internal wall and ceiling void where the nest was located. He also drilled holes in the brick veneer to inject liquid termiticide into the masonry voids. The drilling and termiticide injection process was also performed on the home’s surrounding concrete slab and pavement driveway in order to create a chemical termite barrier. Lastly, a trench was dug around the home’s perimeter to apply an additional termiticide barrier for good measure.

Have you ever found signs of Formosan termite damage on your property?

Contact Us for a Free Consultation and get more information

Contact Us Now

Reviews

Our great reviews and why you should choose us

Reviews
Shield

J & J Exterminating, Inc.

Corporate Headquarters
105 S College Rd
Lafayette, La 70503
Phone : (337) 234-2847
Email Customer Service

J&J Exterminating, Inc.