Do You Have a Termite Infestation?
How to tell if your home is infested with termites:
- Winged termites found indoors usually indicate an infestation needing treatment.
- Determine if it is a termite or a winged ant, which can swarm during the same time of year. Termites have straight antennae, uniform waists and equally sized wings. Winged ants have elbowed antennae, constricted waists, and longer forewings than hind wings.
- Termites are attracted to light and often seen around doors and windows. This doesn’t necessarily indicate an indoor infestation as they could also be originating from outdoor locations such as tree stumps or woodpiles. However, if winged termites are seen coming from the base of the foundation wall or other adjoining decks or porches, there is a good chance that the house requires an inspection and treatment.
- Earthen or mud tubes extending up from the foundations walls and support beams are another sign of a termite infestation in your home. The mud tubes are usually the diameter of a pencil but sometimes larger. A mud tube with no visible sign of worker termites does not necessarily indicate the lack of an infestation, just that the tube is no longer being used.
- Damaged wood from a termite infestation will be hollowed out along the grain. There will also be bits of mud or soil lining along the grain. Wood damaged by moisture or other insects will not have this mud/soil. Rippled or sunken places in wall coverings can also be an indicator that termites are tunneling underneath.
- However, if the tubes happen to be empty that does NOT necessarily mean there isn’t an infestation. It just means that the tube is no longer being used.
- Damaged wood from a termite infestation will be hollowed out along the grain. There will also be bits of mud or soil lining along the grain. Wood damaged but moisture or other insects will not have this mud/soil. Rippled or sunken places in wall coverings can also be an indicator that termites are tunneling underneath.
- There are often NO telltale signs that an infestation is living behind your walls or under your home. Termites are sneaky characters and infestations can and do go undetected for years.
- The only way to be sure if you have a termite infestation or not is to have a professional come and do a comprehensive inspection.
- El Dorado County and Sacramento Termite Inspection available.
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Is it a Termite or a Winged Ant?
Have you ever wondered if what you were seeing was a termite or just a flying ant? There are a couple of telltale ways to tell the difference.
- Both species have four wings, termite wings are uniform in size. The wings on ants are noticably larger in the front than the pair in the back.
- Termites antennae are straight whereas the ants antennae are elbowed.
- The wings of termites are twice as long as their body. Ant wings are shorter and more proportional to their bodies.
- One of the biggest differences is that ants appear distinctly segmented, because of their thin waist. Termites have a broad waist and are mostly a uniform width along their entire body.
Here’s a really good visual:
The lifecycle of a termite
The lifecycle of a termite involves a developmental process called incomplete metamorphosis, beginning as an egg and then going through a series of nymph and adult stages. After the eggs hatch, they will experience three or four molting stages, first into workers, then later becoming soldiers or alate nymphs.
Some of these workers and nymphs have the potential to become supplementary reproductives and take over the roles of a king or queen. The development from nymph to adult can take months, depending on the conditions of the colony.
Termite swarming is caused by the nuptial flight of the alates. The males and females will pair up together and begin their search for a suitable place to build a colony. Once that place is found, the king and queen close up the entrance and proceed to mate. The pair will spend the rest of their lives in their nest, the queen eventually laying as many as 1,000 eggs a day. Depending on the species and the environment, the nuptial flights of subterranean termites may begin during different times of the year, mostly beginning in winter or spring, and sometimes influenced by weather conditions.
Termite, Beetle and Fungus Identification:
- Subterranean termites:
- If you’re a homeowner, subterranean termites are not welcome guests. The creamy-colored, 1/8” long subterranean termite, if left un-checked, can do major damage to the wood in your home, threatening its structural integrity. Found in all 50 states, subterranean termites live underground or in moist secluded areas above ground; however, they need moisture to survive, and their colonies can contain up to two million termites. You can pinpoint a subterranean termite infestation by the characteristic mud tubes the termites construct to gain access to wood and protect themselves from the open air. Subterranean termites can build these mud tunnels through cracks in concrete. The primary goal of subterranean termites is to find dead wood which they want to help decompose. Like all termite species, subterranean termites feed on substances containing cellulose, which is everything made of wood and some wood byproducts such as paper and cardboard.
- Drywood termites:
- Unlike subterranean termites, Drywood termites prefer to feast on and live in dry wood. They are similar to subterranean termites in size and color. Drywood termites form colonies of about 500 to 2,500 termites and they infest dry wood areas commonly inside walls, siding, trim, beams and door frames. Drywood termites can still cause significant damage to wooden structures. Control of these termites requires tenting and fumigating with Sulfuryl Fluoride or Heat Treatment. After control of the termite colony is achieved, monitoring the areas periodically is necessary.
- Dampwood termites:
- Dampwood termites love wood with a high moisture content. For this reason, dampwood termites are not often found in structures. However, when they find a moist wooden structure to inhabit, dampwood termites can still do significant damage, so dampwood termite control is important.
- Wood Boring Beetles:
- Not a termite however it can cause significant damage to your home! Wood boring beetles are commonly detected a few years after new construction. The lumber supply may have contained wood infected with beetle eggs or larvae, and since beetle life cycles can be one or more years, several years may pass before the presence of beetles becomes noticeable. Infestations are far more likely in areas with high humidity, such as poorly-ventilated crawl spaces. Housing with central heating/air-conditioning tends to cut the humidity of wood in the living areas to less than half of natural humidity, thus strongly reducing the likelihood of an infestation. Infested furniture should be removed from the house before the infestation spreads.
- Dry rot: (Fungus)
- Not a termite however it can cause significant damage to your home! Dry rot is wood decay caused by certain species of fungi that digest parts of the wood which give the wood strength and stiffness. It was previously used to describe any decay of cured wood in ships and buildings by a fungus which resulted in a darkly colored deteriorated and cracked condition.
ALL TERMITES ARE IMPORTANT FOR THE DECOMPOSITION OF DEAD WOOD.
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Here is some information Sheri Lee Smith, Regional Entomologist for the Forest Health Protection division of the USDA Forest Service provided us on insecticides.
=“The most common method of protecting individual trees from bark beetle attack is to spray the tree bole with insecticides registered for this use (e.g., carbaryl, or the pyrethroids bifenthrin or permethrin). If applied properly, carbaryl treatments generally provide two years of protection for most pine species; pyrethroid treatments generally provide one year of protection.
Research trials are ongoing using the active ingredient emamectin benzoate and a fungicide to determine their efficacy for preventing tree mortality caused by mountain pine beetle and western pine beetles.”
March through May is Subterranean Termite swarming season. When the temperatures get above 70 and the air has moisture in it from recent rainfall or when we are getting our sprinklers going, these guys build up their mud shelter tubes out of the ground, floor, wall or crack in concrete slab to send hundreds of swarmer’s out to start new colonies elsewhere. I have actually seen this happen 3-4 times out of the blue in the middle of the floor, as the picture shows, a shelter tube for the swarmers to fly out from. One time I saw this right under a recliner chair, I wish we had cell phones like now I would have took a picture of that one. Be on the lookout for these oddities that can appear in just a day or two. You know who to call when or if this happens.
Throughout the world, places that have been involved in war and/or civil strife often have large minefields that still need clearing. In 2013, it was estimated that there was a global average of around nine mine-related deaths every day. The situation is especially dire in Africa.
Typically, clearing a minefield involves men in body armor walking in very precise lines with metal detectors. Anything (from a rusty nail to an old ammo cartridge) that sets the detectors off must be investigated before moving on. A new method of bomb detection using rats, however, is flipping this process on its head.
A Belgian NGO called APOPO has developed a way to train African pouched rats (named for the storage pouch in their cheeks) to sniff out bombs quickly and safely.
They used this rat because it has an incredibly fine-tuned sense of smell and a long lifespan (8-9 years) to yield returns on the nine months of training they undergo.
They’re called HeroRats, and not one has died in the line of duty since the program started in 1997.
The average mine requires 5 kg (roughly 11 pounds) of weight to trigger an explosion, but even the biggest of these rats are only around 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds).
Since they’re trained to sniff out explosives exclusively, they aren’t distracted by other metal objects the way human minesweepers are.
They can effectively search 200 square meters in less than 20 minutes.
A team of humans would need around 25 hours to do the same job.
Since they’re in the African sun a lot, the HeroRats get sunscreen to keep them cancer free.
If a rat does get cancer, it receives full medical treatment.
The rats are “paid” in avocados, peanuts, bananas and other yummy, healthy treats.
After about 4-5 years on the job (or whenever they lose interest in working), they’re allowed to retire.
Retirement consists of eating all the tasty fruit their little hero hearts desire.
Via: Bored Panda