Termites are very aggressive – here are some ways they can enter your home
Make No Mistake! Terminates Can Destroy Any Home.
Characteristics – Soldiers have an elongated head with pincer-like mandibles. Supplementary Reproductives have either no wings or very short non-functional wings, while Primary Reproductives have four wings of equal size until they are shed. Primary Reproductives are the termites most often seen in the open. They are commonly referred to as “swarmers.”
Behavior – This termite is known to swarm in spring, but small flights can occur at any time of the year. Swarming is the visible means that termites use to establish new colonies. As the colony grows, specialized castes are produced for the different tasks required. One caste produced is the workers. Another caste is the soldiers. And a third caste is the reproductives. Primary reproductives swarm and start new colonies. They are called alates or swarmers. Although thousands of primary reproductives may be produced each year, they all leave the nest. Supplementary reproductives, on the other hand, can become reproductive only in the colonies in which they were born. They assist the primary king and queen in population growth of the colony.
Habitat – Subterranean termites live in colonies in the ground, building vertical tunnels that look like mud tubes above ground level so that they can search for food. Because subterranean termites will die if exposed to air for an extended period of time, the tunnels provide protection from the open air, allowing workers to carry food to the nest. Subterranean termites can form tunnels through cracks in concrete, so slab homes are not exempt from these termites. They need to stay in contact with the soil in order to survive, unlike drywood termites that only need low moisture.
Tips for Control – There are several things a homeowner can do which can help prevent termite infestations or make them easier to detect.
- Store firewood away from the house.
- Make sure at least four inches of the foundation can be seen all around the home. Siding should not extend into the soil. Mulch and soil should not touch the siding.
- Make sure water drains away from the foundation to ensure water does not accumulate. Rain gutters are ideal; however, the downspout should direct the water away from the home.
- Roof or plumbing leaks can allow termites to survive above ground in a house. These should be corrected as soon as possible.
Formosan Subterranean Termite
Characteristics – Just like other subterranean termite species, Formosan termites hatch from eggs as nymphs and later develop into one of the three castes that make up the colony’s society: reproductives, soldiers or workers.* Reproductives include the king and queen, winged alates (swarmers), and supplemental reproductives. * Winged alates are primary reproductives that eventually fly out of the colony in swarms and attempt to establish new colonies.* Supplemental reproductives remain in the original colony to assist in egg production to keep the colony growing. They look like a large version of the worker except that they have undeveloped wing buds.* Soldiers comprise 10 to 15 percent of the Formosan colony, compared to 1 to 3 percent in a native subterranean termite colony. Their teardrop-shaped heads have large, forward-projecting mouthparts called mandibles. The soldier’s job is to protect the colony, and they will aggressively attack anything that disturbs it. * Workers and nymphs represent the majority of the colony. They are responsible for foraging food; constructing shelter tubes; maintaining and enlarging the nest; and caring for the reproductives, soldiers, eggs and newly hatched nymphs.
Behavior – Formosan termite colonies begin small, with a single pair of reproductives – a king and a queen – but may grow to contain several million individual termites. Initially, the king and queen establish the new colony by producing 15 to 30 eggs. Two to four weeks later, the nymphs hatch and are nursed by the reproductives. The queen deposits a second batch of eggs one to two months later. The first batch of nymphs takes over the nursing responsibilities. The first new termites produced are workers. As the colony grows, soldiers are produced and finally, three to five years after the colony is started, winged reproductives are produced. A mature queen can live more than 15 years and deposit as many as 1,000 eggs per day. A mature colony may produce more than 20,000 reproductive alates each year. Alates, or swarmers, do not reproduce in their original colonies. They swarm out of the colony by the thousands along with alates from nearby colonies. Each alate attempts to pair with an alate of the opposite sex from a different colony. Few survive this quest. Those that are successful become the kings and queens of the new colonies. Swarming usually follows a warm, rainy day in late spring or early summer, most often in May and June, and typically occurs in the evening between twilight andmidnight.
Characteristics – Drywood termites have soft bodies and are cylindrical in shape. They have six legs, compound eyes and chewing mandibles.
Behavior – Drywood termites are social insects that live in colonies. The colonies are composed of kings, queens and soldiers. There is no worker caste as in subterranean colonies. The work is performed by immature termites before they become adults. King and queen termites perform the reproductive functions of the colony. They are light to dark brown and 1/3- to 3/8-inch in length. Soldiers guard the colony against invaders such as ants. They are pale, cream colored and wingless with large brownish heads and jaws. The nymphs (immatures), which are the most numerous caste, are pale, cream colored and wingless. The soldiers and immatures remain inside the wood at all times.
Habitat – Drywood termites infest only dry wood and are most often found in attic wood framing as they do not require contact with the soil. They obtain moisture from the water produced by the digestion of cellulose. Winged reproductives fly from an existing colony, pair and fly to new dry wood areas, enter a small hole in the wood, and start to form a colony. Colonies will contain up to 2,500 members.
Tips for Control – There are some things a property owner can do to help prevent drywood termite infestation.
- Store firewood and lumber away from the house.
- Use 20-mesh screen on all windows and doors, and especially at ventilation openings for attics and crawl spaces.
- Exposed wood that is sealed with a uniform coating of paint, varnish or other sealant will help prevent easy access by drywood termites. Be sure to seal nail holes and cracks.
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