Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Subterranean Termite Swarming Season Begins

There are two subterranean termite genera that cause most of the structural damage in Texas. One genus, Reticulitermes, may become more noticeable as the reproductives begin swarming during the day in the months of February through May. Subterranean termites live in colonies underground, in order to avoid sunshine and outside air. They are social insects and have a caste system consisting of workers, soldiers, and reproductives. Each caste member within a termite colony has distinct physical and behavioral characteristics. The workers build shelter tubes or mud tubes from tiny pieces of soil, wood, and debris that are glued together using secretions and fecal material. Termites tend to have an extensive tunneling systems underground that allows them to carry food resources back into the colony.
Termites feed on any cellulose material, such as roots, paper, and cardboard. They are important to our ecosystem, since they decompose cellulose. However, subterranean termites become economic pests when they invade human dwellings and structures. Termite damage may be detected by the presence of mud tubes, damaged wood, and the swarming of winged reproductive termites. Termite damage may also be apparent on door frames or window sills or dead termites might be visible along window sills or baseboards.

Some Preventative Practices:
1) Stumps, scrap wood, grade stakes, foam boards, cardboard boxes, and newspapers found around structures should be removed.
2) Firewood, landscape timbers, and compost piles should not be stored around foundations of structures.
3) Minimize moist areas by grading the soil and installing gutters to allow water to drain away from the building.
4) Do not allow shrubs, vines, tall grasses and other dense vegetation to grow against structures. Thick vegetation makes it hard to inspect for termite activity and these plants tend to trap moisture.
5) Use mulch sparingly and do not allow the mulch to contact wood siding or framing of the doors and windows around structures.

Some Chemical Approaches to Termite Control:
If termites are found around structures some measures can be taken, such as applying liquid termiticides and/or installing baiting systems. When soil termiticides are applied, they provide a continuous chemical barrier around the structure. Termiticides should be applied in such areas as under slabs, by drilling and injecting vertically through the slab, or treating horizontally through the foundation from the exterior. There are both repellent and non-repellant liquid termiticides that can be applied around structures. The termites attempting to tunnel into the chemically treated area will either be killed or repelled, which will prevent them from entering the structure. Termite baiting systems can also be installed around structures and in conducive conditions within the area. The stations will initially contain a piece of untreated wood until termite activity is detected. Once termite activity is observed, then the untreated wood is replaced with a plastic tube containing a termiticide within a cellulose matrix. The worker termites feed on the cellulose matrix and then exchange this material with other members of the colony. This results in death of the colony members.

A winged reproductive termite, Reticulitermes spp. (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Photo by J. Hamer, Texas A&M University.

3 comments:

Daren Drag said...

Wow, surprisingly I never knew this.
I have been reading your blog a lot over the past few days and it has earned a place in my bookmarks.Thanks for sharing with us.termite baiting

Margarite Miller said...

This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away free.I love seeing website that understands the value of providing a quality resource for free.
Regards
Termite baiting

Pestcontrol san antonio said...

What a fantabulous post this has been. . I am grateful to you and expect more number of posts like these. Thank you very much.
pest control san antonio