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Protecting Your Home From Termites.

With spring upon us, and summer just around the corner, there has never been a better time to protect your home against damaging subterranean termites. Subterranean termites are highly active at this time of year. Swarming termites are a sign that these wood eating monsters are close by.

Many homeowners and business owners may not be aware that they have a termite problem until see them swarming. When termites swarm, they are trying to establish a new colony. This swarming is called nuptial flight. A typical swarm of termites lasts about 30 to 60 minutes. They fly toward light and are often found along windowsills.

Termite workers are responsible for the damage we often find. The workers are also responsible for feeding the king and queen, and the soldier termites. They also care for the larvae. In fact, they do just about everything needed for a healthy, thriving, reproductive eusocial colony.

We see many homes with termites every year. Both subterranean and drywood termites are especially problematic in our coastal towns of New Smyrna Beach, Edgewater, Oak Hill, Palm Coast, Ormond by-the-Sea, Ponce Inlet, Daytona Beach, and Flagler Beach.

Subterranean termites exist in nearly every state of the USA. The heaviest areas of termite population are all the southern states; however, they are also found as far north as Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Widespread destruction of homes and businesses cost millions every year. Termites live almost their entire lives deep inside wood, slowly meandering through tunnels and galleries that they have carved out, never seeing the light of day.

Drywood termites

Drywood termites inhabit a narrow strip of territory stretching from northern California, eastward along the Gulf of Mexico, toward the Florida keys, and northward toward Cape Henry, Virginia.

Many homes that have active drywood termites can have a spot treatment done, or in some cases, have the affected wood removed.

In structures that have had a long history of drywood termites, or if an inspection has revealed that drywood termites are deeply embedded in the structure with many colonies, a tent fumigation will be needed to fully eliminate the colonies.

When fumigating for drywood termites, a gas called Vikane is used. It is odorless and tasteless; therefore, to alert us to the presence of Vikane, teargas is added to it. If you were to enter a structure that is being fumigated, your eyes would instantly tear up and water, and you would choke and cough, running to get outdoors.

Fumigation for drywood termites is considered safe. Like Helium, Vikane is lighter than air. It penetrates walls, doors, and other household objects like wooden wall studs, sheet rock and metal.

In fumigation, the home or place of business is encased in a large tent so that the gas cannot escape. Large rubber tubes of water are placed on the ground to seal the tent in place, which necessitates the removal of rocks and the cutting back of trees and shrubs around the home to make room for the tubes.

Fumigation takes about three days, and before you will be allowed to re-occupy the structure, the house must be aired out using fans. Measuring devices are then used to assure that no residual gas is trapped anywhere in the structure.

Although the costs of fumigating your house or business can be high, the cost of having termite damage can be much greater. Additionally, if termites are not dealt with, reproductive swarms will enter any surrounding homes or businesses through open windows, doors, or attic vents.

Drywood termites are notorious for causing extensive damage to houses and places of business alike. They do not travel in mud tubes like subterranean termites do.

Sheltered in darkness, drywood termites leave piles of frass when actively feeding on wood. Drywood termite frass is a combination of wood they have digested and their feces. Upon close inspection you’ll see that drywood termite pellets are uniform in size, shape, and color.

Drywood termites consume the cellulose in wood as all termites do. Specialized protozoa in the termite’s gut breakdown the wood for energy. Without protozoa, termites would not be able to obtain the needed energy from the cellulose, and they would die.

This symbiotic relationship is called mutualism, wherein both the termite and the gut microbes benefit each other. Other mutually beneficial organisms include sharks and pilot fish, bees and flowering plants, and certain bacteria that live in our own intestinal tract.

Both subterranean and drywood termites communicate using pheromones. Termites can not only recognize the termites in their own colony, they also can distinguish between their own and termites from another colony.

When foraging, termites that find an old tree stump or other food source, (like your home!), use pheromones to communicate to their colony, signaling, “I found food!”

Ants also use pheromones to find food and water. That is why you see ants marching in line. Pheromones are also used for insect population suppression. By delaying the mating between male and female insects, it is possible to reduce the numbers in an insect colony.

Termites are remarkably successful in reproduction. A queen can lay up to one thousand eggs a day and live for many, many years producing millions of eggs in her lifetime.

Typically, termites swarm twice a year. This happens when colonies mature and become very large. The amount of time between an initial infestation and when that colony swarms depends on many factors: sunlight, heat, humidity, and time of year.

When two of the reproductive swarmers mate, they will become the new king and queen. Termites undergo an incomplete metamorphosis consisting of egg, nymph, and adult. After a few molts, nymphs separate into different castes, which are king, queen, worker, and soldier.

When a queen termite lays her eggs, the castes of the new termites are not predetermined. Rather, it’s dependent on the colony and what it needs to survive. Nymphs can become either workers or soldiers, or even a new queen if the current queen is getting old and not as fertile as she once was.

Termite soldiers defend the colony from attack. Ants are the most common enemy of termites. When a threat is detected to the termite colony, the soldiers come to its defense. They bang their heads against the wall in the nest to create a vibration, alerting the colony to the danger. Using their large mandibles, they strive to eliminate the enemy.

Subterranean Termites

Both subterranean termites and Formosan termites cause millions of dollars in damage every year. Subterranean termites by far do the most damage out of all the termite groups. Mud tubes from subterranean termites can be as small as the diameter of a pencil, or up to one foot or greater in diameter. Unlike drywood termites, subterranean termites are always in the ground looking for a food source.

After hundreds of acres of heavily forested land are cleared for housing developments, termites seek out and find the wood they need for food in the new homes that have been built.

Sentricon Bait Stations

Dave’s Pest Control now uses Sentricon bait stations with Recruit HD. Having a line of defense around your home gives you peace of mind in knowing for sure that your investment is protected.

Sentricon bait stations can be installed around the perimeter of your home. The bait stations are placed eight to ten feet apart; the linear feet of your home will dictate how many stations are needed.

Each bait station is installed 12 -18 inches away from the foundation and placed about 10-12 inches deep in the ground. Before installing each bait station, we check for underground irrigation water lines and other obstructions.

The bait stations should also be placed in any area conducive to termites such as high moisture around the house’s foundation from air conditioning units, irrigation systems, and gutter downspouts. Other conducive areas are found near tree stumps, woodpiles, or any other area with a lot of wood or fallen tree branches and limbs.

Inside each bait station is a large circular block of a highly dense formulation of cellulose and an insecticide called noviflumuron. Noviflumuron is an insect growth regulator (IGR) that prevents successful molting and development of subterranean termites.

This disruption in the termite’s development leads to a decline and the death of the entire colony. In scientific studies, Recruit HD bait was placed beside normal wood. Termites chose the Recruit HD bait matrix over the wood. Interestingly, the bait becomes more favorable the longer it is in the soil. The bait formulation remains effective for up to eight years.

The Sentricon baiting system is supported by Dow AgroSciences, a pioneering expert in the elimination of subterranean termites.

Liquid treatments can be used in conjunction with bait stations to provide a superior barrier of protection.
Liquid Termiticides are fast acting and can kill up to six feet from the treatment area. They can also kill by a secondary repellency and the transfer of the chemical to other foragers. Having both methods of protection ensures that there is a backup system in case one system fails.
Call us today for a free estimate for your home or business using Sentricon with Recruit HD.
Dan Coffey
Dcoffey@davespestcontrol.com

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