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Archive for the ‘Termites’ Category

What Homeowners Need To Know About Formosan Termite Swarms

All termite species produce swarmers that take flight from existing termite colonies in order to establish new colonies. Termite swarmers are more accurately referred to as “alates,” and their sole purpose is to sustain the species. Alates do not bite, sting or eat wood, but alates of drywood termite colonies initiate infestations in cracks and crevices on the surface of wood. After a male alate and female alate mate, their nymphal offspring proceed to excavate wood, at which point the male and female alates move into the excavated cavity where they serve as queen and king of a new drywood termite colony. Subterranean termite alates do not initiate new colonies within structural wood; instead, a male and female search for a proper nesting site within soil before mating. Once a proper nesting site is found, the male and female alates mate, and the first workers to emerge are tasked with excavating soil to create the subterranean nest. Within a short time, workers build a “royal chamber” where the new queen and king reside.

While Formosan termites are subterranean, just like native subterranean termites, Formosan alates are somewhat different from native subterranean termite alates. For example, alates from native subterranean termite colonies do not generally gravitate toward lights during the nighttime hours, but Formosan alates are notorious for swarming in massive numbers around street lights, porch lights, and even indoor lights. Also, unlike drywood termite alates, which initiate colonies in wood, subterranean termite alates, almost always initiate new colonies within soil only. This is because subterranean termite alates require high moisture levels in soil in order to survive. In exceptionally rare cases, native subterranean termite alates initiate colonies in excessively damp wood. Formosan alates initiate colonies in damp wood frequently, and since these colonies are initiated well above the ground surface, they are known as “aerial colonies.” Workers in Formosan aerial colonies construct nests out of a material called “carton,” and these carton nests are typically located in moist indoor areas, such as in wall or floor voids in bathrooms. Aerial Formosan colonies are also frequently found beneath shingles on roof-tops, especially on flat roof-tops that gather copious amounts of rainwater. While native subterranean termite infestations are almost always started by workers from the ground soil, damaged structural wood is generally limited to crawl spaces and wood around fundations. But Formosan subterranean termite damage can occur anywhere on a home, provided that alates initiate an aerial infestation.

Have you ever witnessed a Formosan subterranean termite swarm near street lights?

How To Tell If A Crevice Or Crack In Concrete Slabs Or Mortar Foundations Make A Home Vulnerable To Subterranean Termite Attack

Subterranean, drywood and dampwood termite species can be found throughout the United States, and many are known pests of structural wood within homes, while a few others mainly infest wooden furniture and finished wood items. Termites are easily the most economically significant pests of homes and buildings in the world, and they are particularly destructive in the US where they inflict well over five billion dollars in structural damage annually. It could be argued that Louisiana sees more devastation from termite pest activity than any other city in the country, and possibly the entire world.

The unusually high rate of termite infestations in Louisiana is largely due to the invasive presence of the uniquely destructive Formosan subterranean termite species. This species is only problematic in the Gulf Coast states, and they damage wood at a relatively rapid rate due to the enormous size of their mature colonies, which contain around ten million individual termites, far more than the 50,000 to one million individuals within mature native subterranean termite colonies. Subterranean termites dwell below the ground where workers are able to infest the structural wood at the base of timber-framed homes by traveling through extremely narrow cracks and crevices in concrete slabs and foundation walls.

Subterranean termite workers cannot access structural wood within slab-on-ground homes, as long as concrete slabs and brick and mortar foundations are completely free of cracks and crevices. Unfortunately, cracks quickly begin to take form on concrete slabs and foundations shortly after homes have been built. Also, slab-on-ground homes are particularly vulnerable to subterranean termite attacks because workers can easily travel through narrow expansion joints where slab edges meet the bottom of exterior walls. The narrowest concrete crack that subterranean termite workers have been documented as penetrating measured only 1.3 mm in width, and another researcher claims he witnessed a worker travel through a concrete crack as narrow as .8 mm in width, but this claim cannot be verified. A recent study carried out by American researchers found that most workers from all subterranean termite species can squeeze through cracks as narrow as .93 mm in width, but many were able to fit through .76 mm wide cracks. The study’s authors concluded that any crack in concrete slabs or exterior foundation walls as wide as .396 mm, or 1/16 of an inch in width leaves the above home vulnerable to subterranean termite attack. Caulking cracks in slabs and exterior foundation walls will prevent workers from invading interior structural wood.

Have you inspected your home for cracks in concrete slabs and/or foundations that could be exploited by subterranean termite workers to access interior structural wood components?

Everything You Need To Know About Termite Inspections And Control

Owning a home can be a blessing and a curse. While it’s nice to have a place to call your own, you are also financially responsible for the property and there are a lot of issues that can come up. Your roof might start leaking, your HVAC system might break down, or your water heater might stop working. However, one of the worst headaches you can run into is termite damage. In this article, we’re going to go over the tell-tale signs of a termite infestation and how these pests can be controlled.

The different termite species

Termites are an insect species that feeds on wood, and they do it at a very rapid pace. This makes them extremely damaging to properties that rely on wood for structural support. There are a lot of termite species in the US, but you are likely to encounter only three of them. You have subterranean termites, dampwood termites, and drywood termites. Of the three, the subterranean termites are the most destructive in the US. They build their colonies underground and use mud tubes to travel to the surface. Using these tubes, they will gain access into your home and start consuming wood.

Signs that you have an infestation

Sometimes, you might live with a termite colony on your property for a long time and not realize it. However, if you know what signs to look for, you can detect an infestation early on. These signs include:

  • Damaged wood, or wood with visible holes in it. Be wary if you notice rotten wood – it is likely to attract termites.
  • Buckling in wooden floors.
  • Wood that sounds hollow when you tap it.
  • Discoloration in your drywall.
  • Bubbling or chipping paint, which looks like it has been water damaged.
  • Noisy floorboards, and the flooring coming loose.
  • Mud tubes near the foundation of your home.
  • Cluster of insect wings around your home, particularly near doors and windows.

The termite inspection process

A pest control specialist can perform an inspection in order to determine whether you have an infestation and the extent to which termites have damaged your home if you do. It’s best to prepare for the inspection by removing any large items from the rooms which will be inspected, usually in the attic and garage, and any items that you have stored under your sinks. The inspector will look for the signs listed above, along with termite droppings and any cracks or damage in the home’s wooden structural support.

Do you have a termite infestation?

Getting rid of termites quickly is essential to saving your home from damages and having to pay thousands of dollars in repairs. If you notice any of the signs outlined in this article, contact us today, and we will schedule an inspection to see if you have termite on your property.

Hybrid Termite Species

Imagine if you had the two most invasive species of termites in the entire world mating in the hotbed of invasive species that is South Florida. That is a recipe for disaster which has led to the creation of a super pest which can grow in population faster than both originating species. On top of that, researchers believe that they have a larger range of potential habitats as well.

The two species in question are the Asian and Formosan subterranean termites. The Formosan termite originated in China and Taiwan and the Asian termite comes from Southeast Asia. Both of these termite species have evolved completely separately from each other for what could be hundreds of thousands of years, but now due to trade and human movement, they have been brought together in Hawaii, Taiwan and Florida.

Now, researchers have observed the two species mating, which has raised concerns that a new hybrid species might emerge that has a temperature tolerance that would allow it to live in an area stretching from Brazil to North Carolina.

The two species also changed their mating patterns. When in South Florida, the Formosan termite will usually mate in April, and the Asian termite in February. Some scientists believe that the root cause of this new mating pattern is climate change and warming weather.

In a lab setting, the Asian male termite will choose the female Formosan, even when given the chance to mate with a termite from his own species. One of the reasons for this behavior might be that the two species use the same mating pheromone, but the Formosan female produces slightly more of it than its Asian termite counterpart and this makes it more desirable to males.

Once the mating was over, the hybrid brood that followed was twice as large as that of either parent species. In a laboratory setting, each colony had around 80 offspring after one year when the two species were separated, while the hybrid species had 150 offspring after a year.

Researchers are still interested in finding out if the hybrid species is capable of reproduction, or if it is sterile. The next question to ask is whether the hybrid termites have colonies in the wild, and for how long have they been mating. It usually takes around 8 years for a colony to produce winged females and males, or alates, which leave their nests, swarm, mate and lose their wings in order to form a new colony. If the hybrids cannot grow wings, or if they cannot mate, they will simply be a species that is very active, very destructive, but which only lasts for a generation. It would also limit the geographical spread of this new species.

Scientists have found the study both fascinating and sobering, because these are two of the most destructive termite species, hybridizing and creating a new superspecies which might be even more devastating.

Are Termites Attracted To Mold And/Or Wood-Inhabiting Fungi?

Pest control professionals are often asked if termites are attracted to mold or wood-inhabiting fungi. Termites and wood-fungi are two groups of organisms that feed on wood for nourishment. Studies have shown that termites receive more nutrients from wood that is infected with certain types of fungi. This is because some types of wood-inhabiting fungi increase the availability of nutrients in wood, and fungi detoxify wood. Wood-inhabiting fungi also change the physical and chemical state of wood, ultimately making wood more readily metabolized by termites. Wood-inhabiting fungi serve to stimulate foraging and feeding behaviors in termites, and wood-fungi ultimately promote termite survival.

Subterranean termites prefer to feed on decayed wood sources as opposed to sound wood sources. This is not surprising since both termites and wood-inhabiting fungi feed on wood that has become moist. For the most part, termites respond positively when exposed to wood sources that have become infected with fungi. White-rot fungi works best to promote termite survivorship, aggregation behavior and consumption. Since white-rot degrades cellulose and lignin, two hard-to-digest materials within wood and plant matter, termites have an easier time digesting and processing cellulose that has become infected with white-rot. Also, this degradation of cellulose makes nutrients within wood more available to termites. Termites also respond positively to wood sources that are infected with brown-rot, but termites seem to avoid most forms of mold. Amazingly, after being exposed to wood sources infected with fungi, termite consumption increased by 120%, and aggregation behavior increased by 81%. Fungal-rot also strengthened group foraging efforts by facilitating the spread of trail-following pheromones to more colony members. As a result, fungal-rot increased trail-following behaviors by 200%, and overall survival increased by 136%. While white-rot fungi influenced termite behavior the most, brown-rot is preferred by termites.

Have you ever found signs of a termite infestation around a part of your home where moisture levels were high? Get A Free Estimate today!

 

 

 

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