Termite is best known as a wood destroying insect. There are basically three broad classes of termite namely damp wood, dry wood, and subterranean. Damp wood termites generally tend to live in areas that are heavily forested, whereas dry wood termites live in really dry wood and are much rarer.
Subterranean are the most destructive species of the termites and they require a moist environment and are usually found living in the soil.Therefore, termite infestation should be seriously taken and these should be controlled at the earliest.
Types of Termites
However, going into insight, we could see the following types of termites:-
1. Subterranean Termites
These belong to the family Rhinotermitidae. These termites live in the soil and build the largest nests of any insect. These nests are connected via mud tubes to food sources, such as trees, fence posts etc.
2. Drywood Termites
These termites belong to the family Kalotermitidae and typically live in wood, such as dead trees, structural timbers or floors. They don’t require contact with soil.
The colonies of these dry wood termites tend to be smaller than that of the subterranean termites, they do cause a hell of damage but at a slower rate.
3. Dampwood Termites
These belong to the family Klotermitidae and live in wood with high moisture content. A majority of these species require no contact with soil to survive and feed themselves.
These are rarely found in homes or other man-made structures as a consequence of the fact that wood doesn’t have high moisture content.
4. Formosan Termite
These termite forms large colonies of several millions and can structurally damage a house in months. These nests underground, but also builds satellite nests in trees and houses.
Signs of Termite Infestation
The process of identifying the signs of termite infestation requires patience and determination owing to the fact that these termites prefer to reside in the dark, damp and warm areas of the house. Here are some signs of the termites’ presence:-
1. Termite Shelter Tubes
Most of the termites mainly originate from the ground crossing barriers. A typical would be a metal capping on foundations. These tubes play a crucial role in protecting the termites from predators, maintaining a dark and humid environment for their food storage.
The termites are unique creatures and construct the structures at night when they are less likely to desiccate.
Since they come in large numbers, they can cause immense damage on the wood or carvings they locate themselves. It is vital to look for such tubes to avoid damages and losses.
2. Subterranean Tunnels
These species, are not involved in the creation of shelter tubes but however, make subterranean tunnels to search and transport their food.
These tunnels could be deep down the soil with radii of up to 50 meters. In extreme cases, these limits would have been violated as well.
3. Blowholes in Trees
This is for both termite species but the most visible is the subterranean species, which forms their colonies in tree root crown and trunks.
When an enemy infests the termites or predator the termites cut a longitudinal slit on the trunk for exit, then the fight is completed the worker termite seals the hole and in most cases the tree produces callus in response to injuries.
4. Termites Noises and Wood Excavation
These trouble creators often excavate the wood leaving behind a thin layer intact where excavation depends on the termite species. Audible tapping is heard at the places which are greatly affected by the termite infestation.
The continuous transfer of the signal to the rest of the termite population often increases the sound hence the reason why it can be heard.
5. Earthen Packing
Termites working inside a timber often produce a mud like earthen packing on the surface and this is mostly visible on the foundation walls or at the joints. In most cases, these termite species could do significant damage to the wall foundations and joints.
6. Piles of termite frass in or around the home
Frass is the term which is used for the termite droppings. These droppings are found mostly near the entry of termites. In case you found a pile of dropping inside or outside your home, it is a clear indication of the termite infestation.
7. Presence of Wings
Reproductive termites are termed as swarmers and often take flights to expand the present colonies or create new ones. These are often termed as flying termites as well.
8. Sagging Floors and Hollow Wood
Termites burrow into the wood in a honeycomb pattern without coming closer to the surface; this is one of the problems why early detection is difficult.
As they continue to burrow they make the wood significantly weaker and result in hollow sound and sagging floors.
9. Head Banging
One of the visible signs of the presence of these termites is the quiet clicking sounds coming off the wall. If you put your ear close to any wood infested by termites you can hear them munching away.
A little known fact is that the termites enjoy the presence of rock music. When a selection of termites are subjected to a rock track they eat wood two times faster!
These are little, sensible creatures and can easily detect the vibrations and noises using several organs which are found at the base of their antennae.
10. Blistered Wood
Termites chewing into dry wood usually leave a thin veneer, which may appear blistered or dark and break through easily when pressed.
How to Prevent Termites?
- After putting up proactive interventions such as screens, sand, and removing termite feeding sources, it is important to make sure a home’s plumbing is performing adequately. Any water leaks from the plumbing can become a homing beacon for termites. These pests feed on cellulose materials, but they also need to have water.
- While not always applicable, the best termite prevention starts during the planning stages and continues throughout construction. Termite mesh can be used, which is a stainless steel screen with holes so small, termites cannot pass through. Brick and block foundations develop cracks as they age, so they should have a capping of 4 inches of solid concrete to make it harder for termites to get inside.
- Their prevention in existing homes is possible as well. Just initiate with reducing all Soil-to-wood contacts in your house. Remove all lumber, wood, mulch, paper, cardboard, etc., from around the foundation. Create a 4-inch barrier between mulch and your home.
Some of the following steps could also be followed to avoid their presence:-
- Keep all shrubbery near your home trimmed, allowing at least 12 inches between the shrubbery and the exterior of your home. This would create a nice air flow and hence locating the termite tubes would be an easier task.
- It is advisable to use pine needles instead of mulch. Pine needles are less appetizing to subterranean termites and will also help minimize the environment that other insects such as ants like to nest in as well.
- If your home has a crawl space underneath it, make sure it has proper ventilation and a good vapor barrier to help minimize moisture from reaching the subfloor. Moisture not only can be a conducive condition under your home, it can also cause wood destroying fungus to grow.
- Preventative maintenance goes a long way. By properly maintaining the exterior of your home such as wooden siding or windows, it will decrease the likelihood of water leaking behind your wall and creating an ideal environment for termites.
How to get rid of Termites Naturally?
Before killing termites, it is very important to remove any easy food sources for them. For the homeowners, this means moving the firewood pile from beside the house.
Any wood, lumber, or even paper debris that is near a home’s foundation can become a home for a colony of termites to begin.
Termites also need an entry point into the home to infest the interior of it. Make sure that there are screens in place on every outside vent to prevent these pests from moving in.
There are DIY, chemical and non-chemical solutions that will remove a colony of termites. The most common non-chemical solution is to install a barrier around the home.
Termites also struggle to move through sandy soil. Installing a barrier around your foundation, could slow these pests down.
The most common type of chemical solution to remove termites is through the use of bait. There are three other common chemical solutions that are also approved for use.
- Liquid Pesticides which are exclusively designed for the termites and applied to the soil.
- Building materials infused directly with the termite’s colony.
- Wood treatment chemical solutions which are applied as directed.
There could be very dangerous consequences if you don’t follow the instructions. There is a possibility of these getting into the water system and surrounding wells. This would affect your health by water contamination. When this happens, the treatment is generally not effective against the pest.
Natural Termite Control
There is a fair possibility of you not liking the idea of exposing yourself to chemical methods to control the termites. If this is the case, it is advisable to follow the other methods as described
Use a wet cardboard trap
Presence of some of the used boxes in your garage guarantees you a perfect termite natural trap. Completely submerge the trap in the water and take it out.
Once done with this, just place it where you suspect their presence. Once you see the pests feeding off of the cellulose in the box, you can remove it and burn it.
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