How Harmful Are The Termites?

August 2, 2019

Coming across a termite one time, I found myself asking how this tiny insect got its reputation as a destroyer of houses and buildings. Creatures as small as this one would not even be able to hurt me.

Termites may be very tiny creatures, but do not let looks deceive you. These small insects have caused billions of dollars in structural damage annually in the United States alone. Our homes and buildings contain cellulose-based materials, that is why they are so attractive to termites. Termites eat cellulose-based materials, by the way. Termites prefer wood for food, but they also eat paper, boxes, your important documents, your favorite books, and insulation.

The presence of termites can also affect the sale of a home. Termites and other wood-destroying insects weaken structures, so buyers are always wary of them. A buyer would normally have your house inspected for termites. If found to be infested, a sale may not be closed. A Wood Destroying Insect Report is a report that informs buyers of their presence in a house or building they wish to buy. We will discuss a bit more about this later in this article.

Termite description

There are more or less 2,000 termites all over the world. Fortunately, only 40 are in the United States. They measure only about 4 to 15 mm in length. Their bodies have 3 segments namely the prothorax, mesothorax and the metathorax. With each segment, they have a pair of legs. Some people are confused between termites and ants. To differentiate, termites have no narrowing at the waist, and are rectangular in shape, while ants have narrow waists. They have antennae attached to their heads, four wings, and are transparent, or light creamy color. One type of termites, the soldier termites, are blind and use their antennae to sense vibrations, touch, taste, and odor.

The Most Common Types Of Termites Found In The United States

We can further narrow down the 40 species that can be found in the United States into four most common: the subterranean, Formosan, dry wood, and damp wood termites. Treatment depends on the type of termites that have infested your home. Therefore it is important that you know how to identify each kind. Here are their descriptions:

Subterranean termites - Subterranean termites cause the most destruction to our homes. They destroy buildings faster than any other termites, except for the Formosan termites. Their nests are usually in contact with the soil. They can be described as having sharp teeth and strong jaws. These mouthparts allow them to eat wood, books, paper, and other cellulose-based material. They like to live in dark places with high humidity. Finding them can be very difficult because when they always live underneath the outer casing while feeding on the structural wood. The outer casing always remains intact. It usually becomes too late once the homeowners find out about their presence.

Formosan termites - Formosan termites are aggressive types. They measure about 1/2 inches in length. Their nests can contain millions of Formosan termites. They multiply rather quickly, and since they multiply very quickly, they destroy structures faster than any other termites.

Drywood termites - They are named as such because they infest dry wood like lumber, utility poles, fences, decks, furniture, and dead limbs on trees. Drywood termites have smaller colonies as compared to the colonies of other termites. They are equipped with large mandibles with teeth. They have two sets of wings and are 12 mm long. We get dry wood termites in our homes each time they spot exposed wood. Unlike all the other termites which nest in soil, dry wood termites nest in wood. Their nests are located mostly above ground. Drywood termites eat wood by cutting across its grain, so you would know if dry wood termites were present when you see a chamber-like pattern on the wood. Some of these chambers are filled with fecal pellets. The dry wood termites once in a while expel these fecal pellets outside the nest through small openings. This can be used as a sign of their presence under the wood’s casing.

Dampwood termites - Dampwood termites are the opposite of dry wood termites in that they prefer to live in places with high moisture. They are attracted to wood that is damaged by water. They are much larger than the subterranean termites when it comes to the size of their bodies. Keeping them out requires that you control moisture in your house.

Termite Diet

Termites are detritivores. They eat dead wood and plants, mulch, stumps, and roots, and even living trees. Other things they eat are carpets, cardboard, fabric, and animal feces. Termites have mouths that are capable of tearing the wood. 

How Did I Get These Termites?

Termites manage to invade our homes through cracks, holes, and other openings around pipes and wires. They form colonies within your perimeter and crawl across your yard to get to your house.

Termite Warning Signs

It is indeed very difficult to detect termites, but the good thing is there will always be warning signs.  Here are the signs to look out for: 

  • Try tapping exposed wood around the house. Wood that sounds hollow when tapped probably have termites.
  • Presence of mud tubes on walls or wood beams
  • Visible termite droppings
  • Seeing an actual termite, it means many more are hidden
  • Discarded termite wings can be seen around

What is a Wood Destroying Insect Report

The presence of these termites and other wood-destroying insects can affect the sale of a house or a building. It can either lower the selling price, or the buyer would not push through with the purchase of the affected property. It is the buyer’s right to ask for a Wood Destroying Insect Report.

This is a report made by professional licensed termite exterminators that indicates whether there are already damages made on the wood structures of a building caused by wood destroying insects or none. Aside from termites, there are some other wood-boring insects out there, including the carpenter ants.

If you are the seller of the house, then this report is often a requirement which you should secure. This is only a report on whether the house or building is damaged, or has potential issues in the future. It does not make any recommendations about buying the property and no treatment is necessarily made. 

How Do We Get Rid Of Termites?

The best way to get rid of termites is to call the best pest control management in North Carolina, Go-Forth Pest Control. It is not really recommended that homeowners do the extermination themselves. However, there are some things you can do to get rid of them. Here are a few tips

1) Termites are attracted to dirt. Having a clean home is one good deterrent. Fix leaky pipes and faucets at once because of termites like damp places. 

2) Block off cracks, holes, and crevices, and repair broken seals in the foundation of the house. Using 16-grit sand is highly recommended. This will help block off all possible entry points for these termites.

3) Avoid buying furniture made of wood so as not to add more items that would attract termites. But in case you have wooden furniture and are infested with termites, bring it out to the sun. The heat from the sun can kill termites too.

4) Use a wet cardboard trap. Cardboard is made of cellulose material Add some water on it just to make it damp enough to attract termites. Place that wet cardboard in places near the termites. If you think you caught enough termites on the cardboard, you can grab the cardboard and burn it along with the termites. 

5) Use beneficial nematodes. These are worms that are natural predators of these termites. You can buy these at a local gardening store near you.

6) Make sure you have good airflow in your home. Good ventilation decreases moisture, something the termites thrive on. 

7) Putting sand around the foundations of your house can prevent them from getting near. Termites have trouble crawling on the sand.

Then again, if your termite problem is too big to handle, then call in the best pest control management in the Carolinas, Go-Forth Pest Control.

Why Go-Forth?

No home or pest is the same, so there is no cookie-cutter solution. At Go-Forth Pest Control, we have a team of professional experts you can call to help you examine your home and come up with the best pest control solution. We will identify points of entry and make treatments as necessary. We only use state of the art equipment annihilate these pests.

Go-Forth Pest Control is a family-owned company specializing in modern pest control services and techniques. We only use methods that are family-friendly and pet-friendly which caters to your specific needs. Our expert experience in exterminating pests like termites, cockroaches, wasps, weevils, mosquitoes, mice, flies, ants, and spiders can really make you say goodbye to these pests in your home. You may check us on Facebook or Google us to see what our satisfied customers have to say about us.

Go-Forth Pest Control has earned the trust of residents and businesses in North Carolina for more than 50 years. 

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