Subterranean Termite Control
Effective Commercial and Residential Termite Treatments
If you are concerned that you might have a termite infestation in your home or commercial property, it is critical to have a professional termite inspection as soon as possible. Effective termite control begins with early detection, and PestLock is here to help. Contact us today to request your inspection, and read on to learn more about these destructive pests.
Subterranean Termite Identification
Subterranean termites live in colonies comprised of three castes: a king and queen, workers, and soldiers. The king and queen are about 1/4 of an inch long and perform the reproductive functions of the colony. They are often confused with winged or “flying” ants because of their black bodies and transparent wings. However, the antennae of termites are straight with bare, bead-like segments, while those of ants are elbowed. Also, termites have wings that are equal in length with many fine veins, while ants have two pairs of transparent wings that are unequal in length with few veins. Also, ants are distinguished by a dark patch along the outer margin of the front wing.
Workers are about 3/16 of an inch long, light in color, and wingless. They carry on all aspects of colony maintenance from gathering food, feeding the other castes, grooming the queen, and making tunnels. Soldiers, on the other hand, have a large, cream-colored head with black jaws and a grayish, white body. They are approximately 1/4 of an inch long and nearly half their length is comprised of the head and jaws, which are used to defend the colony. Also, both workers and soldiers are blind.
Subterranean Termite Education
A social insect, this species of termites live in colonies that have a few thousand to sometimes millions of individuals. The mass presence of swarming reproductives is usually the first indication of a subterranean termite infestation. During swarming season, mature subterranean termites emerge from their colonies and take flight in search of a partner. Once a king and queen pair off, they lose their wings and construct an appropriate cavity 3 to 75 feet deep in the soil where they will build a new colony.
Within a day of excavating their new home, the king and queen will mate and produce four to 20 eggs that will hatch in about two months. The newly emerged nymphs undergo a gradual metamorphosis during a five-month period, molting several times to become a worker or soldier. Swarmers and supplementary reproducing termites, however, are not produced before the third or fourth year.
Rather than build discreet nests, subterranean termites construct multiple and scattered nurseries where reproductives are often found together in piles of eggs and nymphs. These nurseries may be found in buried stumps, logs, dead roots, or pieces of lumber left in the backfill. Also, subterranean termite nursery areas located under sub-floors or concrete slabs near furnaces, water heaters, or other sources of heat can remain active during the winter. Subterranean termites most commonly live in the soil where they can avoid temperature extremes and obtain the moisture essential to their existence.
These type of termites preferably feed on decayed wood rather than healthy wood. Their digestive tracts contain microorganisms that help convert the cellulose found in wood into usable food. They can also consume approximately two to three percent of their body weight per day.
In addition to wood structures, subterranean termites will attack untreated fence posts and attached boards, utility poles, and other food sources including cardboard, paper, and fiberboard in, on, or close to the ground. If uncontrolled, their feeding frenzy will eventually weaken and cause the structure of the home to collapse. This is cause for concern not only from the standpoint of safety, but also because it undermines the value of the home. Homeowners can also expect to accrue large costs associated with preventing further structural damage and replacing the damaged wood.
The most frequent type of termite infestation is in buildings constructed near or on preexisting nests. Cement slab foundations are ineffective as deterrents since subterranean termites can find other means of entry through frost cracks, cold joints between slab and foundation walls, and holes around plumbing areas.
Where a wood source is not in contact with the soil, workers will build earthen “shelter tubes” over concrete foundation walls or cracks in concrete through which they can travel to and from the food source and soil moisture. Occasionally the tubes can be built downward from a wood source to the ground. The tubes also provide protection from predators, especially ants, as they are mortal enemies of termites.
The benefit of early detection and termite control performed by a reputable pest control company cannot be underestimated. For termite treatments in Portland, Vancouver, and the surrounding area, trust your home to PestLock.
Customer Preparation for Termite Control
- Remove shrubbery or other materials that might block air flow in vents.
- Clear lumber, firewood, sawdust, and other woody materials from crawlspaces and basements.
- Ensure crawlspaces are accessible, well-ventilated, and high enough to allow working space. Insufficient clearance makes it easier for subterranean termites to construct shelter tubes from soil to wood.
Outside (Varies from house to house – you may need to do one or all of the following):
- Clear building sites of stumps, roots, or other woody materials that remain beneath or adjacent to the building.
- Remove all stakes, forms (under concrete steps, cement slabs, and pads), and building debris from beneath and adjacent to buildings. Do not backfill the debris.
- Keep the site well drained so that moisture is not retained under or adjacent to a building. Downspouts should carry water away from the building.
- Ensure stair supports, posts, or other wood materials are not projecting through concrete floors or foundations.
- Foundations should be of concrete or masonry, and soil debris should not have wood resting on it. Ensure the foundation wall is high enough to allow sufficient topsoil placement while allowing at least 15-20 centimeters of clearance between the bottom of siding or stucco and the ground.
- Seal slabs, concrete floors, and foundation joints against moisture and regularly inspect for cracks, which should be immediately sealed.
- Fences, railings, wooden planters, wooden sidewalks, stumps or trees, and other outdoor structures should be well separated from houses or other buildings. Metal flashing can be installed to prevent the passage of termites.
- Do not stack firewood next to buildings, especially if the siding is wood.