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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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Long Does It Take For Drywood Termites To Establish A Colony Within Structural Wood After Two Winged Reproductives Invade A Home?

Four drywood termite species can be found in most areas of Louisiana where they often infest structural wood, furniture, and residential trees. Drywood termites are quite devastating, as they cause hundreds of millions of dollars in control and damage repair costs in the southern states each year. The damage caused by drywood termites is understandably overshadowed by the catastrophic Formosan subterranean termite epidemic that is ongoing in all areas of Louisiana. Although subterranean termites are more destructive than drywood termites within homes, drywood termites are notorious for establishing infestations that are difficult to detect. Drywood termites may establish multiple colonies within a home’s structural wood, so if one infestation site is found within a home, there is no telling if there may be additional damaged areas nearby that are well concealed. While it is true that drywood termite infestations can be detected by the presence of “kickholes” in infested structural wood and fecal pellets on the floor within homes, this information may not be specific enough to be of any use to homeowners trying to avoid termite pest issues.

Subterranean termites collect water from the ground soil where they dwell, but drywood termite colonies are entirely contained within individual wood items, such as damp logs, dead trees, tree stumps, wood fences and, of course, structural wood. In order to remain hydrated, drywood termites extract water from the wood that they both consume and nest within. The species extracts water by using its internal muscles to squeeze the food their digesting into smaller forms that are expelled as oval-shaped pellets with six indentations along the rim, somewhat resembling a hexagon. These pellets are easy to identify as drywood termite feces if a homeowner knows what to look for. The kickholes that are visible on the surface of infested wood are circular and very small at 1mm in length and width. The condition, such as relative moisture, of drywood termite pellets can indicate how long an infestation has been active. Once a pair of winged termites (alates) establish a nesting site within a home’s cosmetic or structural wood, an infestation will likely become noticeable once the colony begins to produce reproductive alates, which takes at least 5 ½ years in infested homes.

Have you ever witnessed winged termites hovering around your outside lights?

 

An Algiers Homeowner Found A Large Formosan Subterranean Termite Nest Below Her Tiled Bathroom Floor, And Such Discoveries Are Common In Louisiana

Several termite pest species have been documented in Louisiana, but none are as devastating as the invasive Formosan subterranean termite species. There are many aspects of Formosan subterranean termite activity that make them far more destructive to timber-framed structures than all other termite species in the world, but their ability to build aerial nests is one of the most significant. Unlike all other subterranean termite species in North America, Formosans infest numerous tree species, both living and dead. While other subterranean termite species are largely limited to the ground-soil for nesting purposes, Formosan subterranean termite carton-nests are often found located high up in trees where the destructive insects can easily access roofs, attics and wall spaces by traveling along tree branches that make contact with structures. This is why it is not uncommon for Louisiana residents to find Formosan subterranean termite nests within wall-voids and beneath floorboards located on the upper floors of houses, apartments and urban buildings. For example, several years ago an Algiers resident, Nancy Ciolli, discovered a Formosan subterranean termite nest below her tiled bathroom floor located on the second story of her home.

While breaking apart her bathroom floor, Ciolli noticed that she had been chiseling into a large Formosan subterranean termite nest that was located where two-by-fours held up her bathtub. Ciolli had been breaking apart her bathroom floor because she suspected an infestation in the area, and she wanted to address an infestation before it got out-of-control. Unfortunately, this was not the first time that Ciolli had suffered through a Formosan subterranean termite infestation, as an extensive infestation was detected in her staircase, walls and second story floorboards five years prior. Countless Louisiana residents, especially New Olreans residents, have experienced a Formosan subterranean termite infestation since the pests emerged in massive numbers in urban areas of New Orleans back during the 1980s. A couple living in a Georgia-style home in St. Tammany Parish noticed termites feeding on their wooden doorframe, floorboards and walls shortly after purchasing the home in 1987. The couple claimed that the full extent of the infestation was not realized until they pulled back their living room rug only to find a large blister-like appearance on their hardwood floor’s surface. After touching the blistered wood, the resident’s fingers sank right through the wood. Luckily, the couple managed to detect the infestation before a serious accident occurred. During the 1990’s and early 2000s, Formosan subterranean termites often reinfested homes that had undergone treatments, but today, modern integrated pest management practices allow pest control professionals to effectively control Formosan subterranean termite pests when they are found within homes.

Do you ever worry about falling victim to a Formosan subterranean termite infestation?

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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