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What to do about a Termite Infestation

Here, we'll talk about termite problems and what to do about them to protect your home and family this winter. These creatures are highly destructive and difficult to get out of your Syracuse home: identification and prevention are possible on your own, but if you want to get rid of them from your home or business completely, your best chances are to hire professional pest control.

Identify a Termite Invasion: Know Your Enemy

Billions of dollars are at risk from these creatures, and colonies can range in size from hundreds to many thousands of individuals, so it is important to know your enemy and identify an infestation before it's too late. Termite activity occurs primarily out of sight, so watch these signs to identify an infestation in your Syracuse home.

Signs of an Infestation

  • Mud Tubes | Termites use these to avoid predators, and tubes are mainly used to transport food from foraging locations to the colony.
  • Frass | Termite poop, or frass, looks like little black pellets, for some species, and tiny wooden pellets for other species, so especially if you find these continuously, even after cleaning them up, frass is a sure sign of termites.
  • Swarming | Most termites do not grow wings, but when termite colonies are mature and reach an optimal number, the reproductive queens will produce other reproductive termites with discardable wings. Hundreds of termites (called alates) are then released to fly and find a mate and establish colonies of their own. Termites lose their wings after mating and establishing their colony, and juvenile termite nymphs never grow wings at all.

Ants versus Termites

Don't confuse the two, because ants are much easier to eradicate from a home than termites, depending on the termite species.

  • Ants have three body segments, but termites appear to have only a head and abdomen because they have a thick waist.
  • Ants have an elbow in their antenna, but termite antennae are straight and composed of beads (a structure known as moniliform).
  • Ant wings are two different sizes, but all four termite wings are the same length.

Termite Biology

Two main types of termites exist in the United States: the drywood termite, or wood-dwelling termites, and the subterranean termite. Subterranean termites are more advanced than the wood-dwelling types, and it's usually more difficult to get rid of them.

There are three classes of termites: workers, soldiers, and royalty. Workers and soldiers are actually still in a juvenile nymph stage and prevented from becoming adults by pheromones that the king, queen, and soldiers produce.

  • Workers
  • Workers are white or pale, soldiers have large, elongated heads with large jaws, and the king and queen are the largest, with darker, elongated bodies. Workers make up the largest percentage of a colony population and also do most of the work: cleaning, construction, caring for the royal family, and caring for the unhatched or newly hatched eggs. Workers have the genetic potential to reproduce but are kept from developing completely by pheromones produced by the soldiers and royalty.

  • Soldiers
  • Soldiers have hardened exoskeletons, white or pale bodies, and gigantic jaws to defend the royal family and eggs from invaders, usually ants, which are termites' main predators. Soldiers are so large that they cannot feed and care for themselves, so workers feed and clean them.

  • Royalty
  • Only male and female royalty can reproduce, and they are the largest of all three types. After the king and queen mate, they shed their wings and establish a colony. The royal families are the only adults in the colony: males and females produce pheromones to stop the workers and soldiers of each sex from developing fully into adults. Larger colonies can create sister colonies with royalty, a process called budding, and if a member of the royal family dies, a worker or soldier gradually replaces the deceased royalty.

What to do about Termite Damage

Signs of termite damage are difficult to find, but you might find exposed wood that sounds hollow when you knock on it. By the time you find signs of damage from termites, you're too late to stop the problem.

If you find damage that termites have caused, do not try to remove the damage, and do not remove mud tunnels either, because this could worsen the problem and make them spread further.

Prevention: Best Practices to Get Rid of Termites Yourself

The best way to treat termites on your own is to prevent termites from being attracted to your home at all. Here are some things you can do at home or on your business property to keep termites away:

  • Ensure the drainage and grading around your building is dry, and keep gutters and downspouts working
  • Seal termite entry points, like foundation cracks and gaps where utility pipes enter
  • Fix leaks and replace water damaged wood
  • Unblock all air vents, especially if plants grow nearby
  • Keep trees and plants trimmed between 1-5 feet away from the house and that branches don't touch exposed wood
  • Keep your firewood and compost piles at least 20 feet from the siding
  • Install steel mesh in the ground around your home and fill the yard perimeter with sand, as some types of sand can deter termites.

Get Termites Out: Professional Termite Control

Fox Pest Control is ready to help with termite treatments and termite inspections: our Pest Pro Technicians can treat termites with bait systems, termite baits, or other effective products to kill termites. Restore your peace of mind and call today for a free quote.

Posted on December 13, 2019.

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