The most common types of termites found in the greater Houston area are drywood, subterranean (ground) and Formosan subterranean termites.
According to the experts in Pest Control in Houston, the primary productiveness in termite colonies are the king and queen who established the nest after leaving existing colonies. In a well established nest, the queen can become enlarged and may become practically immobile, laying 2000-3000 eggs per day. The king and queen can live for up to 15 years and are replaced when they become too old to meet the colony’s needs. The king periodically fertilizes the queen, unlike with bees, where the queen typically only mates at the beginning of her reproductive life.
Winged reproductive’s, or alates, are the future kings and queens of new nests. They have a well developed cuticle, compound eyes, and two pairs of membranoeous wings that are the same length and are dark brown in color. Alates usually disperse in large numbers from mature colonies in warm, humid weather. They are weak fliers who land quickly and drop their wings. As a result, only a small percentage are successful in establishing new colonies. It often takes several years of development before a nest can do significant damage to a structure. Homeowners are advised to look for alates close to the home, as this can suggest that a nest is nearby that needs immediate treatment by a pest control services expert in Houston.
Soldiers are sterile males and females. Their primary function is to protect the colony and to scout and locate new sources of food. Soldiers have a thin, white or light brown cuticle over most of their body, with a thicker dark brown cuticle covering their head. They can’t feed themselves and must depend on the workers for nutrition. Some soldiers release an acid as a defense mechanism that can corrode metal and penetrate mortar and low grade concrete.
Workers are the sterile males and females that feed the colony. They are the only termites that can chew and digest the cellulose found in wood. Workers have the thinnest cuticles and are the most prevalent caste of the colony.
The workers, soldiers and an enlarged queen are very susceptible to desiccation, which is why the humidity of the nest is usually at 90-95 percent. When termites have to cross a structure that they can’t eat through, they construct mud-like shelter tubes (or galleries).
If you suspect a termite infestation
or just want to feel confident that your home is safe from a future problem, contact an expert in termite control in Houston who can rid you of the problem permanently and safely.
Termites are most often identified by the appearance of the swarmers, their damage, and the droppings they leave behind.
When termites have their wings, there will be two pairs, similar in size and shape. When at rest, the termite’s wings are typically laid flat on their back and extend beyond the tip of the abdomen.
The termite’s wings are capable of being broken at a suture located at the base of the wing. Termites are sometimes called white ants. They can often be seen in large numbers in logs or wood lying in contact with the ground, as well as frames of buildings.
A Termites Biology
Termite colonies are highly structured, enabling them to quickly and efficiently adapt to changing environments. With more of our homes centrally heated, termites are a threat in year-round. With potentially a dozen or more subterranean termite colonies for each acre in the Houston area, a typical home may easily have a few colonies living around it. Termites travel up to 130 feet from the colony, and once they discover food (e.g., your home, they leave a chemical trail for their colony to follow. As upwards of 1,000,000 subterranean termites live in each colony, the threat of infestation is an unfortunate reality for all of us in the greater Houston area.
Our most common Houston foundation, the concrete slab, is the most susceptible type of construction, as termites only need a crack of one-sixty-fourth inch in the slab to enter your home.
Termites are very industrious. They work 24 hours a day without ever resting. They need moisture to survive and will die if exposed to sunlight or open air. Their tunnels protect them from the elements.
Primary reproductives includes queen that established the nest after leaving other existing colonies. In an established nest the queen may be quite large and almost immobile. In some species, the queen can lay 2,000 to 3,000 eggs each day! The queen may live for 15 years.
Winged reproductives or alates are the future kings and queens of new nests. They have a well developed cuticle, compound eyes, and two pairs of usually dark brown elongated membranous wings of equal length. Alates disperse in large numbers from mature colonies, usually in warm humid weather. They are weak fliers and quickly land and drop their wings. During their dispersal flight, alates commonly land on the roofs of buildings and move inside. Only a small percentage are successful in establishing new colonies, and fortunately it takes several years of development before a nest can significantly damage its wood surroundings. Alates seen emanating very close to your home suggests a nest is nearby and pest control is warranted.
Soldiers are sterile males and females, with their main function to protect the colony. The soldiers also scout and locate new sources of food. Soldiers have a thin, white or light brown cuticle over most of the body and a thicker, dark brown cuticle covering the head. Soldiers cannot feed themselves and are dependent on the workers for their nutrition. Some soldiers excrete an acid-like fluid for defense, which can corrode metal and penetrate mortar and low grade concrete.
Workers are the sterile males and females that feed the colony, raise young and maintain the nest. The workers are the only ones that can chew and digest the cellulose in wood. Workers have thin cuticles and are the most numerous caste of the colony.
Because of their thin cuticles, workers, soldiers and the queen are very susceptible to desiccation (death by excessive loss of moisture). So the humidity of the nest is maintained at 90 to 95 percent. To protect them against light, desiccation and predators, when termites are forced to cross a structure that they cannot eat, they construct mud-like shelter tubes (or galleries).
Termite Food Preferences
Termites eat cellulose, found in wood and wood products, for nutrition. They don’t distinguish between the wood in your home and the wood in the empty lot down the street for their lunch.
High moisture areas like crawl spaces are very attractive to them and can serve as starting points for infestation. Once in, termites can infest virtually any part of your home, from wood trim and siding to wallboard and furniture.
Most important in termite control is to keep these pests away from susceptible structures. Prevention (barriers and treatment) is far less expensive than the cure (rebuilding). Preventive measures include physical barriers such as crushed stones, chemical barriers, and use of termite-resistant materials like treated timber.
Timber should not be in contact with the ground. We suggest you not plant trees, shrubs and climbers against your building. As most buildings are on slabs, avoid piling soil or timber against the external walls. If the floor is on piers, inspect the caps regularly for breaches, and make sure no flooring timbers are in contact with the ground.
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Drywood termites have soft bodies and are cylindrical in shape. They have six legs, compound eyes and chewing mandibles
Drywood termites are social insects that live in colonies. The colonies are composed of kings, queens and soldiers. There is no worker termite as with subterranean colonies. The work is performed by immature termites before they become adults. King and queen termites perform the reproductive functions of the colony.
The drywood termites are light to dark brown and 1/3- to 3/8-inch in length. Soldiers guard the colony against invaders. The nymphs (immatures), which are the most numerous caste, are pale, cream colored and wingless.
Drywood termites are usually found in attic wood framing, since as their name applies, they prefer dry wood. They get moisture from the water produced by the digestion of the cellulose found in wood. Winged reproductives fly from an existing colony to new dry wood areas. Colonies will contain up to 2,500 members.
The subterranean termite commonly swarms in spring, however small swarms can occur any time. As the subterranean termite colony grows, specialized groups, or “castes” are produced for the various tasks required. The castes include workers, soldiers and reproductives.
The Primary Reproductives, also called alates or swarmers start new colonies. Although thousands of primary reproductives are hatched each year, all leave the nest. Supplementary Reproductives become reproductive only in the colonies where they were born, and assist the primary king and queen in growth of the colony.
The worker is 1/8- to 3/8-inch in length and is pale to cream colored. The Soldier is light colored with a brown head. Its body is similar to the worker’s, but has a large head with powerful mandibles. The reproductives are about one inch in length. Primaries are dark brown to black, and supplementaries are light colored. Supplementary reproductives have either no wings or very short non-functional wings, while primary reproductives have four wings of equal size until they are shed. Primary reproductives are the termites most commonly seen outside, and are more commonly referred to as “swarmers.”
Subterranean termites live in colonies in the ground, building vertical mud tubes above ground in order to search for food. As subterranean termites will die if exposed to light for an extended period of time, the tunnels provide protection from the open air, allowing workers to carry food to the nest. Subterranean termites need to stay in contact with the soil in order to survive, unlike drywood termites that only need low moisture.
Formosan Subterranean Termites
Formosan Subterranean Termites maintain huge underground colony systems reaching upwards of 10 times larger than other subterranean species. Formosan termites build mud nests, called cartons, within the walls and other enclosed spaces of a structure. These nests may provide shelter for tens of thousands of individual termites. They also provide surplus moisture that sustains them during dry periods. Since Formosan termite colonies can contain several million termites, they can cause damage much faster than other species. Unlike other subterranean whose colonies are almost exclusively underground, Formosans can establish secondary aerial nests with no connection to the ground.
Termites are a serious matter and can cost you thousands in damage if left untreated. Call Hartz Pest Control today- Your Houston Termite Experts.