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Termites 101: Identification, Prevention, And Control In Chesapeake

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Have you had the experience of having the base of your kitchen cabinets soaked with water? When that happens, you know that you have to act quickly to find the source of the leak. So, you check all the fittings around the pipes and drain and investigate all the liquid-containing items in the cabinet to find the origin of the moisture. You must find the cause of the problem because unless you locate the source, you cannot stop it or prevent future soakings. 

The same principle is true for termites. If you see termite signs in your Chesapeake house, you must quickly find the source before extensive damage occurs, requiring a significant financial outlay. The best way to stop termites is to use the Chesapeake pest control team from Hawk Mosquito & Pest. Our owner is also a firefighter, so his passion to serve and protect people drives our company. Because we believe in the value of education, we have written this article to help you determine if termites are in your house and, if they are, what you must do to eradicate them before they do too much damage. 

Termite Warning Signs Every Homeowner Ought To Know

Termites are tiny insects with six legs, a long, narrow body, and two antennae. Like all insects, termites have an external skeleton (exoskeleton) that they must shed at each growth stage (instar) to progress to adulthood. Later in this article, we explain how we use that knowledge to stop termites. Before we discuss signs of termites in your Chesapeake home, we need to identify the type of termites that infest local homes. 

Although there are almost 3,000 termite species worldwide, subterranean termites are the ones that affect homes in Chesapeake. These termites have the same insect characteristics previously mentioned with a creamy-white to dark brown or black 1/8 inch body. If you break down the adjective "subterranean," you notice that "terranean" refers to the earth and "sub" is underneath; thus, these termites live underneath the soil around your home. Since no wood is in the dirt, why do they live inside the earth? Moisture. This termite species requires a fair amount of water, and since they quickly dehydrate when exposed to the sun, they live beneath the surface in moist soil. 

Don't termites eat wood? Yes, termites eat wood. Therefore, subterranean termites live in moist soil near wood. Because the earth near the wood is damp, the timber is often fungus-ridden. Mold-infested wood produces an odor that reproductive, flying termites sense when they search for new nesting locations in the late spring. 

Now that we know the type of termites infesting many Chesapeake homes let's look at these warning signs: 

  • Mud tubes
  • Crumbling wood
  • Hollow-sounding wood
  • Discoloration 
  • Blistering paint or wallpaper
  • Sawdust-like material
  • Discarded wings
  • Sagging floors in the corners
  • Warping window or door frames
  • Collapsing structures

Because subterranean termites dehydrate, they create mud tubes to enable safe passage from the nest in the soil to nearby wood. These mud passageways will be on the foundation exterior when subterranean termites live underneath your home. 

If you poke damp wood in the crawl space and it sounds hollow or crumbles, worker termites have bored holes and have caused the wood to weaken the wood as they harvest it for food. Also, as termites chew through wood, it discolors the wood. 

When termites are in the walls, they will not chew through the wall but will leave a thin, paper layer. Thus, the moisture from the termites or another source will cause wallpaper or drywall to blister. Like all living creatures, termites defecate as they work. They push the fecal matter outside the holes they bore in the wood. You probably have termites when you see small saw-dust piles near pinholes in the wood. 

In the spring, mature termite colonies produce flying, reproductive termites that fly from the nest riding on the warm air currents to find new nesting locations. If they survive the journey and find a potential nesting location, which will be around damp wood, they discard their wings and begin creating a new home. Because light also attracts swarming termites, jettisoned wings in window sills are more early warning signs of termites in your house. 

Floors will begin to sag as termites consume wood in support beams. Gaps between the baseboards and carpeting or flooring, especially in the corners, are signs of an ongoing and significant infestation. As support beams weaken and floors sag, door and window frames warp, and this causes windows and doors to seal improperly. If an infestation is allowed to progress, structures will eventually collapse. 

Protect your house from termite damage with Hawk Mosquito & Pest. Our highly-trained technicians know all the termite signs. If termites are on your Chesapeake property, we will find them. 

How To Identify And Remove Factors That Attract Termites

We've already noted that moisture, coupled with damp wood, is an attractant for subterranean termites. Before these termites swarm into a house, they infest dampened timbers on the property. As you survey your home, investigate for these signs:

  • Rotting fence posts or landscaping timbers
  • Decaying tree stumps
  • Buried wood scraps
  • Wood piles on the ground
  • Water leaks in the crawl space

Since moisture is the factor that contributes to these conditions, search for poorly draining ditches, puddles, and downspouts near wood or wooden structures. Heavy vegetation, overgrown shrubs, and yard debris hamper airflow, and sunlight in the yard promotes water saturation in the soil. In the crawl space or basement, search for leaky pipes, drains, and seepage from the outside. Poorly draining gutter water may be entering the crawl space and dampening wood. Also, ensure that vents are not blocked or inadequate.

Hawk Mosquito & Pest provides subterranean termite treatment in Chesapeake. When we inspect your home, we will point out attractants so you can remove them from your property. 

The Problem With Trying To Get Rid Of Termites By Yourself

When you realize you have a termite problem, the temptation is to fix the problem by purchasing a product at the hardware store. While DIY products will kill termites on contact, they will not stop the infestation. Subterranean colonies are deep in the soil consisting of an egg-laying queen, soldiers, reproductives, and workers. 

The termites you may see in wood or mud tubes are worker termites. Their job is to feed the wood they harvest to the queen, larva, reproductives, and soldiers. The workers are the ones who leave the nest to forage, while the others stay behind. Thus, you may kill some workers with a DIY product, but the egg-laying queen, developing termites, and reproductives remain untouched by the product.

Another problem is the sheer size of mature subterranean termite colonies. A fully grown termite colony ranges from 60,000 to two million termites. In addition to killing the thousands of workers and hundreds of soldiers, the only way to stop a termite infestation in your home is to kill the queen, larvae, and reproductives. Eliminating that many termites require a long-term solution, not just a few sprays around dampened wood in the house. 

Hawk Mosquito & Pest provides effective termite control and prevention that kills all the termites in the nest and stops the infestation. 

The Best Way To Get Rid Of Termites On Your Property

Subterranean termites in your house didn't originate inside the home but entered from the outside. In other words, satellite colonies are what you have in your Chesapeake home. The primary nest is on your property, inside a dead tree, underneath buried wood scraps, an old wood pile, or landscaping materials. So, you need not only to eradicate the termites eating the wood in your house but need to remove the primary nests on your property.

If spraying won't penetrate the ground enough to kill the nest, what is the best way to get rid of termites? Hawk Mosquito & Pest uses the proven Sentricon® Always Active™ System. This system involves the installation of in-ground, locked bait stations. Inside each buried station is a highly lethal cellulose strip that is more attractive to termites than wood. The worker termites consume the bait and return to the nest. Back at the colony, they regurgitate the food to feed the colony members, just as they do when they eat wood.

The food in a Sentricon® bait station prevents growing termites from shedding their skin, ultimately killing them. Thus, young termites die, preventing the expansion of the nest. As the soldiers die, predators become more of a threat to the colony and hasten its demise. Eventually, the queen and the remaining workers die. 

Hawk Mosquito & Pest are Certified Sentricon® Specialists. If we determine subterranean termites are on your Chesapeake property, we will install inground and above-ground (if necessary) stations. These stations are locked and require a key to open to prevent access to children and pets. Furthermore, the Sentricon® Always Active™ System is eco-friendly and will not affect nearby plants or gardens. 

Contact the friendly Hawk Mosquito & Pest customer service team to learn more and request a quote.