Termites and Termite Control

 

Subterranean Termite Biology

Severe Termite Damage to a Bathroom Severe termite damage to a bathroom. Left untreated, termites can cause structural damage that can many thousands of dollars to repair.

Termites are insects in the order Isoptera. They are the only insects able to digest the cellulose in wood, which is the part that gives the wood stiffness and rigidity. Specialized bacteria living in termites' digestive systems enable them to break down cellulose into simpler sugars that the termites can use for energy.

Subterranean termites live in the soil and eat wood. They are very sensitive to light and air currents and very prone to dehydration, and build shelter tubes to maintain a protected environment whenever they are out of their nests. Because of this, a termite infestation can exist for years before the homeowner becomes aware of it.

In nature, termites help decompose dead trees and return nutrients to the soil to nourish new growth. The problem is that to a termite, a home is just so much dead wood. When termites decide to infest a home, they can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage -- and even undermine the structural integrity of the house.

 

Termite Castes

Termites are highly-advanced insects with a caste system and a well-developed division of labor. A fully mature termite colony usually includes termites of all of the following castes:

Termite Queen

Reproductives. Commonly referred to as the King and Queen, the primary reproductives' primary task is reproduction. The Queen also controls many aspects of the colony's existence through the use of a complex system of chemical messengers known as pheromones. We're only beginning to understand the complexity of this advanced chemical communication system.

Large colonies may also include supplemental reproductives, who reproduce, but whose females don't exert control over the colony's activities.

 

Termite workers taking care of nymphs

Workers. The vast majority of individuals in a mature termite colony will be workers, which are small, creamy-colored, and resemble grubs in appearance. The workers also are the termite caste that do all the damage, because they're the only caste that has the kind of mouthparts necessary for chewing wood.

In addition to foraging for food and feeding the rest of the colony, the workers tend the nymphs, feed the soldiers, maintain the nest, and build and repair the shelter tubes.

 

Soldier termite showing enlarged mandible

Soldiers. Mature termite colonies usually have a caste of termites called "soldiers."

Soldier termites have enlarged, armored mandibles (mouthparts) that are suited for defense, rather then feeding. They are unable to chew wood like workers can; so like nymphs, soldiers must be fed by the workers.

As their name implies, the soldiers' job is to defend the colony against predation, primarily by ants and other predaceous insects.

 

A large number of dead termite alates, or winged swarmers

Alates ("Swarmers"). Mature termite colonies produce Alates, which are winged reproductive termites. They emerge from the colony in pairs, usually in the spring, in the hope of establishing new colonies.

The overwhelming majority will fail, and their dead bodies and shed wings inside a home (usually by doors and windows) are often the first visible evidence that a home has a termite problem. Those that succeed will find a suitable piece of soil, shed their wings, and establish a new colony.

 

Termite Extermination

ALLGone Services offers two methods of termite control, both of which are very effective if done properly.

 

Conventional Liquid Treatment

Diagram illustrating Termidor's transfer effect

The fastest, most proven method of eliminating a termite infestation is liquid treatment using a revolutionary, non-repellent termiticide called Termidor. Unlike old-fashioned "chemical barrier" treatments, Termidor is undetectable to termites. They can't see, smell, or taste it, so they travel freely through the treated soil, eventually transferring the material to the rest of the termites in the nest and killing the entire colony.

The termiticide is applied to the soil around the perimeter of your home by trenching and rodding the soil adjacent to the foundation, and drilling all expansion joints in areas such as patios and porches. Drilling is also performed inside the home around the perimeter of the slab, around cracks, and around all plumbing penetrations. This will prevent termites from tunneling up or under the slab into the structure. In areas where drilling is impractical, foam treatments into wall voids are performed, instead.

Some cut-rate companies recommend exterior-only treatments for termites, but our two decades of experience have convinced us that only a thorough interior and exterior treatment such as described above provides protection worthy of your investment in your home. So it all comes down to this: Don't try to save a few dollars. Get the whole house treated the first time and protect your investment! Saving a few bucks isn't worth the risk of further termite damage.

 

Termite Baiting and Monitoring

Termite technician's hands checking termite bait station

In general, we believe that Termidor's long record of 100 percent elimination, plus it's continuing residual effectiveness even after the initial colony has been eliminated, make it the best choice for most of our customers. But sometimes it makes sense to use termite baiting or monitoring, either as an adjunct to liquid treatment or as a primary treatment method. In addition, some customers prefer the baiting approach to liquid treatment for environmental reasons.

When using termite baiting or monitoring systems, monitoring stations are installed around the perimeter of your home and periodically inspected. If termites are found inside the stations, a treatment is performed. The treatment may be a liquid treatment or be a bait treatment, depending on the individual situation and the customer's preferences.

Bait treatments for termites are most suitable for situations in which drilling is impractical, when liquid termiticides can't be used because of water wells on the property or because of local regulations, or in extremely sandy soil. It's also an option for people who simply don't want holes drilled on their property, or who feel more comfortable with non-liquid treatments for environmental reasons.

Termite baiting is more expensive then a conventional treatment, however, because the stations need to be monitored on an ongoing basis -- forever -- to maintain effective control.

 

For more information about termite control with Termidor or termite baiting, please contact us.

 

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