The eastern subterranean termite is the predominant termite in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This area carries a classification of TIP Zone #2 to indicate to local businesses and residents that the potential for termite infestation is moderate to heavy.
Eastern subterranean termites are divided into social groups (or castes), within each colony. The groups include the workers, soldiers, and reproductives, which can be further categorized into kings, queens, and secondaries.
• Workers may range in size from 1/8” to ¼” and are wingless. They have a hardened, rounded head and hardened mouthparts with a soft body that is subject to drying out. Workers are usually off-white or grey.
• Soldiers are also wingless and grow to be about ¼” in length. They have large, yellow heads and dark mandibles. Some soldiers have a fontanelle, a tube-like projection that traps enemies.
• Reproductives are generally black or dark-brown, and have wings. They can grow to a length of 3/8” to ½”.
Termites eat decaying plant material. Digestion of these materials is made possible by microbes in the stomach which produce the necessary digestive enzymes. These enzymes permit termites to eat materials that contain cellulose including books, insulation, wood, cardboard, and paper. Termites are also able to consume mulch, stumps, and plant roots.
Termites found in Pennsylvania and New Jersey build nests outdoors and underground. They require close contact with the soil for its moisture while building small tubes which create an environment that is conducive to their mobility and protection.
PROBLEMS WITH TERMITES
Termites are responsible for more than $5 billion in damage every year to homes around the United States. More than 600,000 homes are affected and most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover termite damage.
Termites cause damage to wooden structures including furniture, walls, doors, beams, cabinets, etc. The presence of termites, and the subsequent damage they cause, is usually not immediately noticed because damage is generated from the inside out.
Termites are social pests that live in colonies. Each termite has its own role within the colony. Workers spend most of their time foraging for food and can cover a half an acre of land.
Termites swarm around homes when the king and queen are ready to start a new colony. There might be thousands of termites within a swarm.
Soldier termites are responsible for defending the colony. Ants are the termite’s primary enemy. Since termites are blind, soldiers are alerted to the presence of ants through vibrations and pheromones that are unique to each colony.
Termites prefer dark, damp areas which consequently enable them to spread mold spores during the process of chewing or crawling through wood. Mold spores are potentially harmful to humans because of the various skin and fungal diseases they can cause, as well as producing or worsening the symptoms of asthma. Mold exposure has also been linked to memory problems, hives, eye infections, and other conditions.
SIGNS OF A TERMITE INFESTATION
• Hollow sounding wood may be an indication of the presence of termites. Since termites prefer dark locations, the outer part of the wood will look normal, but the inside will be hollowed out.
• Termite swarms can number into the thousands, making them noticeable to humans. If a swarm is spotted near the home, call a pest control provider immediately.
• Termites require moisture and build mud tubes to provide it. Mud tubes around the home or home’s foundation are possible during a termite infestation.
• Termites emit an odor that is unique to their colony. Basements and bathrooms should be checked for the presence of the scent of mildew when a termite infestation is suspected.
• Drywall may droop or bow due to the presence of a termite colony.
• Flooring should be checked for tiles that no longer fit, possibly indicating termite activity below.
• Drywall may also have pinpoint holes where termites exit and enter the wall.
• Areas where paint is peeling should be closely examined for pinpoints and mud tubes.
The best prevention is to schedule annual pest control inspections. In addition to this, there are a number of ways homeowners can help prevent a termite infestation.
• Termites are attracted to moisture, so make sure that there is no standing water around the property, especially near the foundation. Ensure that gutters, splash blocks, and downspouts are all in good working condition.
• Eliminate as much humidity as possible from small areas by ensuring that vents are in place and in proper working order (not blocked by dirt, plant growth, or dead leaves).
• Make sure that wood siding sits off of the ground by at least six inches.
• Keep firewood stored away from the home and not against the foundation.
• Make sure all basement leaks are repaired.
• All service lines and plumbing should be completely sealed around the home’s structure to prevent easy termite entry.
• Mulch should be used sparingly around the home.
When termites are suspected, the best course of action is to call in the experts at SafeGuard Pest Control. Our technicians are licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and are certified Termidor exterminators.
As certified Termidor® exterminators, our technicians are skilled and trained in applying this and other products known for effective termite control, by infecting and killing termites as they come in contact with the termiticide and then spread it to other members within the colony.
For nearly 30 years, SafeGuard Pest Control, LLC has been assisting Yardley area homes and businesses with all of their termite eradication and prevention needs.