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Termites crawling on a piece of wood

A heavy infestation of this pest can create havoc and cause considerable damage to the structure of the house. However, most people are not even aware that termites have moved in and taken up residence until they see a swarm or find structural damage during remodeling.

It would be prudent for all homeowners to periodically check for any signs of termites. Begin on the exterior of the home and look for mud tubes and small, creamy-white insects going up the outside of your foundation. You may also tap or probe exposed wood for hollow spots in various locations of the structure. Thirdly, learn to identify termite swarms.

Termite swarms are often confused with ant swarms. Swarmers are the winged adult termites that mature and fly away to form their own colonies and continue reproducing. These swarmers come from an underground nest and are an obvious sign that you have an infestation that must be found and treated. While you want neither termite swarmers nor ant swarmers invading your home, it is important to make proper identification in order to properly treat and exterminate the invaders. A couple identifying facts are as follows:

  1. Termites have a straight antenna with a slight drooping look. The antenna of the ant is bent at a ninety-degree angle as it comes out the side of the head.
  2. The wings of the termite are very closely equal in length. The ant has front wings that are noticeably longer than the hind wings.

The subterranean termite is the most common of all termites found in the United States. Other less common termites are the Formosan termite and the Dry-wood termite. However, because it is so common, we will look into more detail at the subterranean termite. These subterranean termites cause billions of dollars in damage every year and are clearly the most destructive insect pest in the United States. While they do actually have a beneficial purpose in nature and are important to our ecosystem, they have a very negative impact on homes.

Subterranean termites live in the soil and migrate inside the home. There are three castes that make up the colony: reproducers, workers and soldiers. The workers make up the largest number of termites within a colony and do all the work. They are wingless, creamy white colored insects about ¼ to 3/8 inch long. Their job is to forage for food and carry it to the colony to feed the other castes.

As destructive as they are, there are a few prevention tips to reduce the risk of termite invasion. Remembering that the subterranean termite colonizes in soil, keep the ground around your foundation dry with proper drainage techniques and slope the ground away from the building. This will eliminate any standing water accumulating from guttering and downspouts. Equally important is to seal off any points of entry. Fill cracks in the concrete foundation and around any holes or openings where utility lines and pipes enter the home.

Remember, termites cause considerable damage to structures and your pest control specialist should be called upon the first sign of termites.

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