Description: Termites are the most common and costly wood-destroying pest found in the United States. Most are the subterranean type and feed exclusively on wood and wood products. They are found in every state and are responsible for 95% of termite-related damage. Each year thousands of homes require treatment for the control of these pests – with the cost of damage and treatment exceeding $1 billion per year. Damage will also occur to utility poles and other wooden structures.
Signs of termite infestation include the mud tubes they construct to move from the soil to the wood and swarming of winged adults in the spring and fall. Darkening or blistering of wooden structures is another indication of an infestation; wood in damaged areas is extremely soft and easily punctured with a screwdriver.
Termites are small (1/4 – 1/2 inch long), creamy white, tan or black insects; wingless or winged.
Tip: To determine if the insect you see is an ant or a termite look for the following:
• Termites have relatively straight antennae.
• Ants have elbowed antennae.
• The abdomen of the termite is broadly joined to the thorax.
• The abdomen and thorax of the ant are joined by a narrow waist.
• Termites have two pair of wings (front and back) that are almost equal in length.
• Ants have two pair of wings — the front wings are much larger than the back wings.
Life Cycle: Subterranean termites are social insects that live in colonies. A colony has three castes: a) reproductives (king and queen), b) soldiers, and c) workers. Colonies are initiated in spring and fall when swarms of winged male and female reproductives leave a nest. Termites shed their wings, pair off and build a nest near a source of wood and moisture in the soil. After mating, the female (queen) begins laying eggs. The eggs hatch after a few weeks or months (depending upon species), and the emerging nymphs mature over a period of 2-6 months. Most become workers or soldiers. When the nest reaches its maximum population, some of the nymphs develop into winged reproductives, and the cycle is repeated.
Termite Control: Homeowners can reduce the risk of attack by following a few suggestions.
Eliminate wood contact with the ground. Ideally, wood should be at least 8 inches above the soil. Pull soil or mulch back from the foundation and support steps or posts on a concrete base.
Prevent moisture from accumulating near the foundation. Termites are attracted to moisture and are more likely to enter a structure if the soil next to the foundation is consistently moist. Install, fix or relocate downspouts, drains and gutters. Repair leaky faucets.
Never store firewood, lumber or other wood debris against the foundation. When stacked against the foundation they offer a hidden path of entry into the structure.
Use decorative wood chips and mulch sparingly, especially if you have other conditions conducive to termite problems.
Apply Bora-Care directly to untreated wood surfaces. Formulated with a concern for the environment, Bora-Care is a borate based insecticide and fungicide that is used for the interior and exterior control of termites. Its patented formula penetrates deep into the wood providing long lasting protection.