Putting Off Termite Work

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In the spring of every year the air is filled with reproductive termites as nature continues its cycle of specie survival. Many times however this event happens right in our living room and causes great panic. The homeowner who doesn’t know about termites sprays the insects and cleans them up and although they are curious about them they are soon forgotten.

People who see this swarm often don’t realize that it is just the tip of an unseen iceberg. Killing the flying termite is great but does nothing for the thousands that live on in secrecy in their walls. Since the exodus only happens once and for a short time people can be fooled into thinking the problem is not that severe and since they killed them anyway, all is forgotten. It should be noted that only full grown colonies make swarmers and they are only a small part of the total number. The swarmers are the only caste in the colony that seeks light and just this once. The rest of the hoard that does the damage is left unseen to continue doing what termites do, eat wood.

A mature colony of subterranean termites is about sixty thousand strong at least. It takes two to three years and favorable conditions for them to get this large. The queen who was once a swarmer herself is an egg laying machine pumping out hundreds per day. The queen can live up to thirty years and there is always a ready stable of supplementary reproductive’s waiting to take over in case she dies. The supplemental queens also produce eggs and this really speeds up a colonies growth.

Worker termites are blind and shun light so they live and travel in tunnels made of mud. Once they latch on to a source of food they lay pheromone scent trails to attract other workers. On average they can eat about one foot of a 2×4 every six months, the larger the colony, the more damage. Preferring the darkness they dine in seclusion and often their damage goes unnoticed for years. Even professional exterminators cannot always spot an infestation until there are external signs.

Since they are blind they do not travel across the ground where they can be seen. Instead exterminators look for small mud tunnels or exit holes filled with mud to detect an infestation. There is however no guarantee that ‘not’ seeing these signs means you are free and clear of this wood destroying insect. Established colonies consume about two feet of a 2×4 every six months but you may never know it until it is too late. The wise consumer will at the very least have a termite inspection once per year. A truly prudent homeowner will have the home treated preventively to avoid the costly damage, visible signs or not.

Curious about why there are wings on your windowsill? It’s possible you have termites. Learn more about them. Do I Have Termites?

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