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A Bit Of Info On Termites

5/24/2010 12:00:00 AM
A Bit Of Info On Termites

What are termites? What do they do?

Termites are insects, about the size of ants (though not closely related to them), which feed mostly on dead plant material, including wood. For this reason, they can cause significant damage to homes and other structures. There are about 4,000 species of termites in the world (and 40 in the U.S.), but locally we are most concerned with subterranean termites, which often build “tubes” up into crawlspaces and structures.

I’ve heard that there are few termites in Sussex County, or none at all. Is this true?

It’s definitely not true. Sussex County, and all of Delmarva, is home to a wide variety of pests, including termites.

What is the difference between a termite and a flying ant?

While the two look similar, flying ants do not destroy wood, and are no more harmful than their non-winged relatives. The three sections of a flying ant’s body are much more pronounced than those of a termite. For more information on distinguishing between flying ants and termites, check out our post from last summer, Termites vs. Flying Ants: Know the Difference, which includes a helpful illustration of both pests.

Is my brand new house safe from termites?

No home is entirely safe from termites, but generally it is older structures that are most at risk. A home built in 1940 is much more likely to be infested by termites than a home built in 2010, but it is still possible for a brand new house to be infested. The best way to be safe is to ensure that a new home has been pre-treated.

What if my house is built on a slab (no crawlspace)?

Subterranean termites require only the smallest of entry points, and can easily enter a slab structure. A frequent point of entry is the edge of a garage slab, where it is bordered by the blocks of the foundation, or in an unfinished utility room. Check in these areas for termite tubes.

How can I inspect my home for termites? What should I look for?

The crawlspace, garage, and outside perimeter of the home should be checked thoroughly for termite tubes or other signs of termite activity. Homes built on cement slabs should be checked inside, as well. While the only tools needed for an inspection are eyes and a flashlight, it is best to have a trained exterminator perform the inspection. Brasure’s offers this service free of charge.

What treatment options are available?

Pesticides can be applied before or after termites are found. It is very common for new homes to be “pretreated” during the construction phase, so as to prevent infestation. In most cases, a treatment consists of application both inside the crawlspace and around the perimeter of the foundation. Brasure’s uses Termidor for termite treatments, which has proven to be highly effective.

What does it mean when someone says that termites are swarming?

A swarm usually occurs when a mature colony is disturbed by a combination of heavy rains and warm temperatures. Therefore, most swarms occur in the spring and summer. Winged male and female termites reproduce and establish new colonies. The winged termites often swarm around windows; it is not uncommon to find hundreds of dead termites lying on and around a windowsill during or after a swarm.

Is it true that there have been fewer instances of swarming in the past couple of years?

Yes, and no one in the industry knows why. However, we still encounter termites on a regular basis; they are by no means extinct.

Are termites the only insects that destroy wood?

A number of insects can be classified as wood-destroying pests, but two of the most common are carpenter ants and carpenter bees.

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