Termite Treatment and Extermination
“Termites are bugs that eat wood.” I once heard from a 7 year old. Although true, there are some other bugs that eat wood. Termite food consists of cellulose obtained from wood. Protozoa in their digestive tracts convert the cellulose into usable food.
Termites have a caste system consisting of the queen, king, nymphs, workers, supplementary reproductives and soldiers. Dry wood termites do not have true workers. Older nymphs function as workers.
The only function of the queen is to lay eggs. The queen termite can live as long as 25 years. Supplementary reproductives can transform into queen termites in the event that the queen termite dies.
Workers do the most of the work for the colony. They feed other caste members, clean the galleries inside the wood, takes care of the queen and help raise the young nymphs. Some nymphs can also transform into winged termites called “alates”. Alates can either be a future king or queen termite. Termite alates fly from the colony called “swarming” to start new colonies. Dry wood termite swarming is usually done in spring at around dusk. On the other hand, subterranean swarming occurs in fall at noon time. Weather conditions also can influence swarming. Subterranean termites are triggered to swarm after a rain shower followed by bright sunlight.
Soldiers have big orange heads and mandibles. Their main function is to defend the colony.
There are basically two types of termites. One are those that live entirely inside wood (non-subterranean) and those termites that live in the soil (subterranean).
Non subterranean termites can either be Damp wood termites or Dry wood termites. As the name implies, Damp wood termites live in very moist wood.
On the contrary, Dry wood termites live in wood that has a very low moisture content. Dry wood termites infest dry wood and do not require contact with the soil. This type of termite can be a very serious pest. You will know if you have Dry wood termites if you see sand like pellets, usually on window sills, inside the garage or dropping from the eaves.
90% of the termites here in the U.S. are those that live under the ground called Subterranean termites. These termites live under the ground and tunnel through the soil to look for wood, on which to feed. Colonies for this type can number from a few thousand to several million.
Subterranean termites are very serious structural pests. Subterranean termites occur throughout the state while dry wood termites are more common along coastal areas although they are also found inland.They enter houses by building mud tunnels. These termites build these tunnels by cementing dirt and saliva together. These tunnels are usually the first signs of a subterranean termite infestation. Tunnels or mud shelter tubes can be found under the house, on walls and baseboards. It is also common to find these tunnels behind the wood framing of garage walls.
Used lumber, furniture and other wooden articles should be carefully inspected for termite infestations. Dry wood termites reproductives may enter a building through the attic or foundation vents, under or directly through shingles or under eaves. All windows, doors and vents, especially those in the attic, should be screened with 20 mesh screen. Paint will give exposed wood protection against termite entry. Before painting all cracks and crevices should be filled with putty or plastic wood. Commercial pressure treated wood cannot be consumed by dry wood termites for a much longer period. Certain woods are naturally resistant to termite attacks; among these are heart wood of redwood, bald-cypress, mahogany, and Spanish cedar; however, these woods will become susceptible after several years when subjected to weathering.
Dry wood and subterranean termites require completely different control methods; therefore the termites must be correctly identified. If in doubt, take several soldiers, winged specimens or broken-off wings to your a Pest Control Company.
If detected in the early stages and damage is localized, a dry wood termite colony may be controlled by removing and replacing the damaged wood. It is very important to carefully inspect all woodwork of the entire building, especially attics, baseboards, window sills, floor joists, and furniture for termite pellets and/or damaged wood.
Local treatments for dry wood termites are by microwave and freezing. All methods have its advantages and limitations. Wood injections requires a hole to be drilled into termite galleries so insecticide can be injected into the infested wood. Electrocution requires special equipment available to pest control operators. Spray or foam applications to raw wood will prevent dry wood termites from entering the wood and may control existing termites, depending on the situation.
If the infestation is too extensive and advanced for local treatment, it will be necessary to tent and fumigate the entire building. Although this method is very expensive and leaves no residual protection, it is usually the only alternative when many termite colonies are present. Fumigation can only be performed by a licensed pest control operator. Contact several firms for inspections and estimates for treatment.
Treatment for subterranean termites is called soil treatment. The objective is to create a barrier or shield between the house and the termites. A small continuous trench is dug around the foundation, posts and any possible termite entry point. The trench is treated with an approved termiticide. This prevents subterranean termites from entering the house.