What Are Termites?
Termites are insects that live in colonies. The most common type of termite found in southeastern Pennsylvania is the subterranean termite. These termites are very moisture dependent. They nest in the ground and there they tunnel in order to find their primary food source which is the cellulose contained in wood products. A colony can contain thousands of inhabitants. Since termites damage the wood in your house they are defined as Wood Destroying Insects (WDI) as are carpenter ants, carpenter bees and wood boring beetles.
The Significance Of Termites
In forest areas, termites are beneficial because they help to decompose fallen tree and tree materials. In your home they are detrimental because they damage the wood used to build and support your walls, floors and roofs. Because termites live in large colonies they are able to consume wood cellulose at a very rapid rate. It is important to identify termite activity and end the feeding on your home.
How To Recognize Them
The workers in the ground are typically creamy white in color. In the spring some of the termites commonly refered to as “swarmers” leave the colony to mate and start new colonies. These swarmers are dark brown to black and have wings. While it’s hard to ever catch sight of the workers themselves hidden in the soil or wood, the swarmers if trapped in the house can sometimes be seen flying but more likely what you’ll find is their wings which they detach and leave behind once they have found a mate. These swarmers can be differentiated from flying ants by their distinctive body shape. The termite does not have a narrow waist between its body segments like an ant does. One indication that the illusive worker termites may give of their presence in your house is their shelter tubes. These shelter tubes, which in their simplest form look like a thin, raised sandy trail on the outside surface of the wood or adjacent to the wood, protect the termites from predators and the loss of their body moisture.
Steps To Prevent And Stop Termites
Termites need food and water. The food is the wood in your house. The water typically comes from the poorly graded soil or it can come from leaking plumbing, exterior siding openings and roofing leaks. Proper water management around and in the house and maintaining proper distances between the wood of the house and the soil are keys to the prevention of termite infestation and damage. Once the termites have established themselves in the house then it’s best to contact a commercial certified termite pesticide applicator to determine the right plan of action for the termites removal.
Key services include conducting WDI inspections and reporting on the presence of termites, carpenter ants and carpenter bees.