What is a termite infestation?
Termites live in colonies, meaning that they are social insects. When your house has a termite infestation it means that the termites have formed a colony in one of the foundation/any structures of your house. Termites Subterranean in nature require moisture to survive and therefore need either a humid environment or a source of humidity/moisture.
- Formosan termites, a sub type of subterranean termites have an aggressive nature and have nests above ground.
Drywood termites do not do not require moisture or any particular condition to survive. They attack wood and are capable of forming colonies that do not need to be anywhere near ground. These are usually very widespread termites and you are probably experiencing an infestation related to them.
How do termites spread?
Termites, as do all other living creatures, need food. They require a cellulose based material that is usually found in the likes of firewood, furniture, drywall coverings, books, and boxes. Termites forage almost at a constant bases and can spread up to 150 feet around their one colony. It doesn’t take long for termites to ‘nest’ and an infestation can take place within a time span of a mere few days.
There are two ways in which an infestation can occur:
- Colonies will send out winged reproductive termites to start out new colonies. The termites will begin forming a colony as soon as a suitable environment presents itself.
- Subterranean termites will be on a lookout for food and will find a way into one of the structures in a household. They can build mud tunnels in an attempt to access the wood in a property. These tunnels are made over foundation walls of a structure and although there are many more methods of spread of infestation, this one has proved to be the most common one.
What are the signs of infestation?
Signs of infestation will again be determined by the kind of termite infesting your house. Treatment also does matter on what termite is infesting the house/property. However briefly putting it; dry wood termites will result in termite ‘droppings’ these may fall from the ceiling in form of wood colored, ridged pellets.
Subterranean Termites often form mud tunnels to protect themselves when they traverse exposed areas (like up your foundation). So, if you every find mud tunnels on your foundation or around your property, there's a probability you have an infestation either in your house or in the surrounding premises. Similarly, Formosan Termites also leave behind a mud-structured trace in wall structures, signifying their presence.
Why are termites a threat to my home?
Termite infestation can be devastating at times. When termite infestations remain undiscovered, serious, costly damage can occur to buildings. Single termites colonies can eat up to 6 pounds of wood in a year. If more than one colony infests your home, chances are the main structure of your house may be compromised. Although the structural integrity of a building is most important thing to protect from termites, they can also eat other wooden objects, including your furniture!
Around $5 million documented damage has occurred on a yearly basis alone and that’s only the damage that has been studied and recorded. It is quite likely that there are far more expenses related to termite infestation. Insurance also does not cover termite infestation and such related problems and this results in unreported infestations. If there is humidity in the surrounding environment and there is anything cellulose based in vast numbers in an area chances are that an infestation will occur.
The infestation will not die down on its own and will spread ridiculously fast. Any buildings or homes with a significant wooden infrastructure could be weakened by the presence of termites making it all the more easier for them to collapse. Imagine multiple termite colonies each eating away an average of 6 pounds of wood on a yearly basis, from multiple parts of an infrastructure.
So you have termites? Now what? What can you do to get rid of and exterminate any termite colonies inside or outside your house?
Inside your house? You can get liquid termiticides (basically pesticide, but for specifically engineered for termites), this will either kill them or force the colony to evacuate.
If the colony is situated outside your house you can’t do much to get rid of them and honestly? You don’t have to. If you get your house treated with liquid termiticides the chemicals form a chemical barrier around your house. In case there is a hole in the chemical barrier you can always have bait stations involved to avoid damage to furniture and the house at least till the termites can be gotten rid of.
How treatment should be done?
The treatment should preferably be done by a professional pest management official. Do-it-yourself methods do not typically completely eradicate termite infestations. They will probably not form sufficient chemical barriers. They can also cause poisoning if ingested.
Professionals will be able to recognize and identify the termite species, the most suitable and efficient method/termiticide to use to remove them, and will use just the right amount to get rid of the infestation without using enough to form a considerable health risk to any children, pets, or the environment.
Further Resources about How Termites Spread
- Formosan Subterranean Termites – Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities
- Termites in Wisconsin: Insect Diagnostic Lab Note – University of Wisconsin
- Tree Termites – Inspect & Treat Tree Trunks & Stumps for Termite Damage – MyTermiteTreatmentCosts.com
- Subterranean Termites – University of Missouri Extension Department of Entomology