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The Signs of Termite Infestation

The termite: more than just an insect, this is a true pest – one whose thought instills terror in the hearts of many home-owners… most notably those whose homes are made essentially of wood. The real destructive power of termites derives from two essential aspects: their covert nature, and their highly efficient societies. Termites live in colonies that can be comprised of thousands – sometimes even millions of individuals who always work together for the common sake. The materials they feed mostly are dead plants: leafy litters, animal excrements… and most notably wood. The same kind of wood that’s used to build many of our homes; given their vast numbers and group efficiency, a colony of termites can quickly being to deteriorate wooden materials, and cause serious structural damages over time. Why Termite Infestations are Hard to Detect While it can take several years for termites to bring about irreversible structural damage, the real problem is that people usually won’t realize they have a termite infestation until it’s too late. Rather than nesting in the wood (such as for example carpenter ants), termites live on the ground, and feed on wood. This is something you should keep in mind because any kind of wood that’s in close contact to the ground becomes a potential entry point for a termite infestation. After gaining such entry point, termites will literally keep eating away from all connected wood, until a building or structure eventually crumbles and nothing remains but saw dust. Also, since they eat away the wood from the inside – oftentimes homeowners won’t notice they’re being victims of a termite invasion until it’s too late; there are however some signs you can watch for such as little muddy shelter tubes they tend to build in order to keep protected while traveling between the soil and their wooden food supply. Warning...

White Ants

Have you ever seen white ants?  When people see ants they tend to not worry, but if you see a ‘white ant’ you should.  The true is, there are no white ants.  While ants come in various colors, white is not one of them.  What you are actually seeing are termites. Termites are often mistaken for ants – they are similar in size and shape, both form social colonies with a division of labor, and both can occasionally turn up around your home. This is especially true of flying ants and swarming termites.  But termites are distant relatives of ants. They are more closely related to bees and wasps. The feeding habits of ants and termites differ as well. All termites are cellulose eaters, i.e. they consume fibers of various plants and especially trees. Their ability to break down cellulose stems from protozoa in their intestines. Termites have a deserved reputation for destructiveness to homes and buildings with wooden foundations. Ants are generalists in their diet – they are scavengers, predators and herbivores. Although there is a tremendous number of subspecies of ants, ants are easily distinguished from termites by the ant’s three distinct body segments: the head, thorax and abdomen (gaster). Each segment is separated by a narrowing of the body. Termites bodies in comparison are relatively straight. In the case of flying ants and swarming termites, the termites have two pairs of equally-sized wings, whereas flying ants have a pair of large front wings and smaller back...

Signs of Termites

Watching for signs of termites can keep your home from becoming a termite feasting ground.  All homeowners should be aware of the signs of termite infestation – the appearance of winged termites, mud tubes, and wood damage. The presence of any or all of these three indicators should be enough to raise a warning bell.  If you’re to slow in identifying termite problems, the sure signs of termite damage are sure to shortly follow. Termite Swarmers Termite swarmers (winged termites are called alates or swarmers) are one of the first significant signs of termite activity that you may see.  Swarmers are adult male and female termites from an established colony that are extremely sexually-receptive and are very eager to pair up and start their own colonies.  They emerge from their colony in mass, and are a sign that there is an active termite colony near by. You can differentiate a winged termite from a winged ant by its appearance. Termite swarmers are soft-bodied and have a thick waist. Their antennae are bead-like and straight and their wings are of equal length that detach easily. Winged ants, on the other hand, have a hard body and a constricted waist. Their antennae are elbowed and their forewings are larger in size than their hindwings and these do not break off as easily. Swarming typically occurs between the spring months of March and May, during the daytime hours when temperature and moisture are at their most favorable. This phenomenon takes place rather briefly, usually not more than an hour, as the alates lose their wings quickly. If it occurred indoors, the only evidence you may have of a swarming is the presence of shed wings stuck on cobwebs or on your window sill. Termite Mud Tubes Another sign that screams termite infestation is the presence of mud tubes. These tubes or shelter...

What Do Termites Look Like?

Many homeowners fear the dreaded termite. For there are few more horrific thoughts than knowing that your house is being slowly eaten by tiny insects. While most people schedule routine exterminator visits to keep their home safe from termites, few people would actually be able to identify the bug if they saw it. Consider the following descriptions of the termite to help determine if you have termites in your home. The first question most people ask when dealing with a possible termite problem is: What do termites look like? Most people who have had experience with termites describe them as white ants. They most resemble an ant in appearance and live and work as ants in colonies. Their bodies are wide from head to toe. This differs from the ant which has a narrowed mid body section. The termites are seen with light colored antennas that are straight and curve out slightly. The body of termite may range from almost clear or translucent in light to a tan or copper color when in the ground. The worker termites are typically very small ranging from 3 to 6 millimeters in size. The reproducing termites are usually a little larger at 5 to 15 millimeters in size. The reproductive termites are often black and have wings for flying. Their wings are sued to fly out and begin a new colony of termites. Like with ants, the queen termite of the colony is the largest. She is also typically a little lighter than the other reproductive termites. The United State has 4 main species of termites: subterranean termites, drywood termites, dampwood termites and Formosan termites, an newer, invasive species.  Of these, only the larger dampwood termites of the Pacific Northwest work above ground.  All the other work underground or live inside the wood they eat.  You are much more likely to see...

Identifying Termite Species

Telling the difference between termite species can be very difficult.  Most termite workers look almost the same, making them almost useless for identification.  Termite queens and kings are almost impossible to find, so they are pretty much out for termite identification purposes. To really tell the difference between termite species you need to look at the soldier caste of a termite colony. Termite soldiers have very distinct differences between each of the termite species.  Termite soldiers are also very easy to find.  All you have to do is stir up the colony a little bit.  At the sign of disturbance termite soldiers are sure to appear to defend the colony. Identifying Subterranean Termites Subterranean termite soldiers are easy to identify.  They have a longer, rectangular shaped head that allows them to block tunnels.  This head areas is slightly darker then their body, giving it a slight golden tint. Identifying Formosan Termites Formosan termites, another type of subterranean termite, are also easy to identify.  Formosan termite soldiers have a triangle shaped head with a tiny dot in the center a little bit above the pincers.  This dot is a gland that releases a sticky substance that they use when fighting.  The Formosan termite soldiers head is also darker in color.  It is almost a copper color....

Ants vs Termites

Ants vs Termites or Termites vs Ants, that is the question. There are similarities; there are differences. Let’s look at both. Both termites and ants are small with six legs, a head, a thorax, and an abdomen. There are tiny ants; there are tiny termites; there are big species of both. Both have queens who lay eggs and kings who fertilize the eggs. Both have a worker caste who do most of the running around, hauling stuff from one place to another, and soldiers who defend the nest. In a family called Isoptera there are nearly 4,000 species of termites, about 2,700  of which have been taxonomically identified. There are probably 14,000 species of ants in a family called Formicidae, about 12,000 of which have been classified. Differences among this broad array of species are as startling as among dogs from the Chihuahuas to the Great Danes. Differences Between Ants and Termites: Midsection It is easy to tell an ant from a termite. You don’t need a microscope. All you have to do is get the bug to stand still, relatively speaking, and look at its midsection. The ants have “wasp waists.” Between the thorax and the abdomen is a narrow connection in ants, just like with wasps. The termites do not have this slender waist.  Their width continues, gradually increasing, from the thorax to the abdomen. Differences Between Ants and Termites: Antennae If you want to look closer, notice the antennae, the two “wires” that come out the head. In the termite, these antennae are straight. In ants these antennae have elbows. Differences Between Ants and Termites: Wings If you find ants or termites with wings, look at those wings. All four of the wings of a termite are about the same length. The two rear wings of a flying ant are shorter than the front wings. Ants...