Tag Archives: Termites

Tips on how to protect against termite damage.

How to Deal with Foundation Damage Caused by Termites

Tips on how to avoid foundation damage caused by termites.By the time you find out that you have termites, there is a chance that they will have already caused extensive damage to the structure (and substructure) of your home. Here is how to deal with all of the damage those pests can cause.

First: Learn to Recognize the Signs

There are a few signs that termites might have set up shop in your home. Swarming is the most common. This is where you start to see termites in your home. The most common place to find them is by the windows—either lying on the sill from having flown into the window itself trying to get out of the house or on the window’s drapery.

You might also find shelter tubes that the termites have built. They build them in open areas so you shouldn’t have to hunt for them. If you find what looks like water damage, search for signs of dirt. Termites will usually bring with them and drop bits of dirt into the wood they’re invading.

Next: Figure Out What Type of Termite You’re Dealing With

The easiest way to do this is to trap a couple of the termites you’ve found. If you see a termite or two in your home, put a clear glass or other similar transparent container over it so that you can lean in for a closer look without having to worry that it will take flight at you (or away). You can use our earlier article to figure out what you’ve captured.

Call a Professional

Unlike some other pests, termites are not something you can combat or conquer on your own. These pests get into and destroy the structure of your home. It is important to call an exterminator or pest control expert for help in figuring out not just how much damage the termites have done but how to deal with the infestation. The good news is that most pest control experts will give you a free inspection.

Dealing with the Aftermath

It isn’t just possible that termites have done damage to the structural integrity of your house, it’s probable. As soon as you’ve “fixed” the infestation, you’re going to want to get a contractor or structural engineer out to inspect your house for damage. If you’re lucky, the damage will only be on the “superficial” structure of your home. If the damage is in the supporting beams and joists, you’re looking at a much bigger problem.

Make Repairs a Priority

Repairing termite damage is going to be expensive. There’s no way around that. How expensive it is depends upon the damage that was done. One thing is for sure, though, the repairs can’t wait—especially if you ever want to be able to sell your house. Remember, tenting isn’t always 100% permanently effective and all it takes is a few of those pests to survive for a real threat to be posed to the structural stability of your home. Get rid of any wood that might have been affected by the termites you just got rid of and replace it with new ones.

Future Prevention is Also Important

In addition to repairing the damage that has already been done, it is important that you work hard to prevent more damage from occurring in the future. Luckily, there are things that you can do to help discourage termites and keep them from infesting your home. You can find a list of ways to prevent a termite infestation here.

The fact is that termites are everywhere. There is no part of the country that is safe from these pests. The good news is that you don’t have to resign yourself to their presence. Use these tips to help you overcome and recover from a termite infestation.

Telling the difference between an ant and a termite

Ants and Termites: Spotting the Difference

Spotting the difference between ants and termitesAnts and termites are both incredibly common pests. They are so common and look enough alike (termites and flying ants in particular look eerily alike) that, at first glance, many people confuse the two. It is important, though, that you learn how to tell the two apart.

What Does the Science Say?

Even in terms of entomology, the differences between ants and termites are subtle. Both live in social swarms that typically revolve around the reproductive agent known as queens in ants and swarmers in termites. The Kansas State Entomology Department has a great page that goes into detail about the scientific differences between these two creatures.

How You Can Tell what’s Crawling on Your Counter

The good thing about ants and termites is that, while they have wings, you don’t have to worry about them buzzing your face when you lean over to get a better look at them (the first step in figuring out which pest you’re dealing with). The three parts of the pest’s body you need to focus on are the antennae, the waist and the wings.

Spotting the difference between ants and termites.With Ants: the antennae are typically bent or arched. Their bodies narrow down at the waist and their frontal wings are larger than their wings in the rear.

With Termites: their antennae are usually straight. They have broad waists and their front and hind wings are of equal size.

Basically, a termite looks like a chubby and more proportionate ant.

What You Should Do with What You’ve Found

Deciding how to handle an invasion of ants or termites is going to depend largely upon which pest is plaguing you and how many ants or termites you are dealing with. With that said, there are plenty of things you can do yourself to prevent and defeat both ants and termites.

How to Deal with an Ant Infestation

If you have an ant infestation, things can get a little bit tricky. While cleaning and sealing up your home can do quite a lot to deter ants from forming colonies inside your home, if the colony has already been built, more action is going to need to be taken.

The good news is that you’re probably going to notice the flying ants for a few days while they explore your house and yard looking for places where they can mate and build new colonies of their own. You’ll start to notice “mounds” and that’s where you should focus your actions.

Create a “toxin” of honey and artificial sweetener to attract the ants along with borax, which is deadly for ants but not for humans or most pets. You can also sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the mounds—it will dry them out and kill them when they come into contact with it. Also use turmeric. Turmeric is completely harmless for pets and humans and acts as an antiseptic and discourages flying ants.

How to Deal With a Termite Infestation

Even if you work hard to prevent termites from getting into your home, sometimes they win anyway. This is why if you start to notice termites in or around your home, you should hire a professional pest control expert to do a thorough inspection and help you come up with a plan for eradicating the infestation. A good expert will know how to “fix” an infestation in a way that has as little impact on you and your family as possible.

It is important to act quickly. The less time these termites and flying ants have to crawl over your walls, the easier it will be to get rid of them.

Dangerous Termite Turns Up in South Florida

Sun-Sentinel.com: Dangerous Termite Turns Up in South Florida

A uniquely dangerous termite that tunnels up the sides of houses has turned up in South Florida, leading agriculture officials to organize a campaign to wipe it out before it can spread.

The Nasutitermes corniger termite, which is native to the Caribbean, lives above ground, builds brown tubes up the outside walls of houses and shows a particular taste for hardwood. The insect’s above-ground habitat means it would avoid direct competition with native, subterranean termites and raise the total number of termites that could live in the region by 25 to 30 percent, said Rudolf H. Scheffrahn, professor of entomology at the University of Florida.

“They forage on the open floor, which is something you don’t see unless you live in the tropics,” he said. “They love to eat hardwoods. They ate the handles off garden implements, rakes and hoes – turned them into shredded wheat. If this thing really keeps going, it’s going to be a problem for tropical Florida, from West Palm Beach to the Keys.”

A dozen field workers from the Florida Department of Agriculture on Tuesday will blitz neighborhoods in Dania Beach, the only city so far in which the termites have been found, treating 42 properties that harbor the insects. The termite’s beach ball-sized nests, made of termite excrement and constructed above ground, will be sprayed, as well as the foraging tubes running up trees and houses.

On Southwest 25th Avenue, where the termites have been found in several houses and trees, Martha Rosen said she and her husband first noticed strange dark lines going up the sides of their house. Soon they realized what was causing them.

“They got into the tool shed and ate our stack of firewood,” she said. “We went to pick it up and there was no wood left. They’re very aggressive. My trees look like they’re almost dead. ”

The species first showed up in Dania Beach in 2001. Aggressive spraying was thought to have eradicated it, but then it turned up last summer. They are thought to have originally arrived on wooden pallets brought from the Caribbean to a nearby marina, said Michael Page, chief of the Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control for the Florida Department of Agriculture.

Mark Fagan, spokesman for the state agriculture department, said the termite was found in the walls of the International Game Fish Association, just west of Interstate 95 and south of Griffin Road. Since then, he said, they have been found on 42 properties in neighborhoods for about a square mile around that site.

Fagan said the eradication work will take about four days.

The termites are ant-like in appearance. Unlike the 20 or so local species of termite, they can be seen crawling along the ground. If you think you have them on your property, call the Florida Department of Agriculture hotline at 888-397-1517.

“We’re trying to prevent another termite from being established,” Fagan said. “We’ve got plenty of termites in Florida.”

A single nest could harbor 1 million or more termites, Scheffrahn said. With the current infestation of 100 to 120 colonies, there are already more than 100 million of the termites in the area, he said.

He said “time is of the essence,” because any day the winged termites could take to the air to establish new nests.

Florida Termite Treatment and Termite Control with Termidor

Termite Treatment and Termite Control with Termidor.

 

Whenever a termite touches Termidor, it can become a “carrier,” transferring Termidor to other termites it contacts. Secondary carriers continue transferring Termidor to other termites they contact, spreading it like a virus throughout the colony. This unique “Transfer Effect™” is one of the reasons no other termite treatment can control termites like Termidor.

 

PEST PROFILE: Subterranean Termites

PEST PROFILE: Subterranean termites

Subterranean termites live in underground colonies or in moist secluded areas above ground that can contain up to 2 million members. They build distinctive “mud tubes” to gain access to food sources and to protect themselves from open air. Termite colonies are organized into castes depending on tasks — workers, soldiers and reproductive’s. The characteristics of a subterranean termite are dependent on the termite’s role in the colony. Cream-colored Worker subterranean termites are 1/8 to 3/8′s of an inch in length. Soldier subterranean termites are of a similar body length, but are distinguished by their powerful mandibles. Solider termites have cream-colored bodies and brown heads. Reproductive subterranean termites are approximately one inch long.

Habits

Subterranean termites live underground and build tunnels, referred to as mud tubes, to reach food sources. Like other termite species, they feed on products containing cellulose. Subterranean termites swarm in the spring — groups of reproductive termites go off to start new colonies.

Habitat

Subterranean termites need contact with the soil to survive and live underground. They can build tunnels through cracks in concrete.

Threats

Subterranean termites are by far the most destructive species. They can collapse a building entirely, meaning possible financial ruin for a homeowner. The hard, saw-toothed jaws of termites work like shears and are able to bite off extremely small fragments of wood, one piece at a time.

Prevention

Avoid water accumulation near your home’s foundation. Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks. Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation. Never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the yard. Most importantly, eliminate wood contact with the soil. Maintain a one-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building. Also, always receive a regular termite inspection from a trained and licensed company.

Beyond Bedbugs: 8 Insects Businesses Should Really Worry About

Beyond Bedbugs: 8 Insects Businesses Should Really Worry About

“Don’t let the bedbugs bite” used to be just a cute expression to say before saying goodnight. Today, it’s an actual warning. Bedbugs are back and they continue to attack a variety of businesses, from clothing retailers to hotels to movie theaters. According to a new study by the National Pest Management Association, 95 percent of pest-control companies nationwide have had run-ins with bedbug infestations in the past year.

While bedbugs get all the attention, plenty of other interesting, rather ominous insects are out there wreaking havoc on consumers and costing companies millions. So if you feel like being unnerved by bedbugs isn’t enough and you’re wondering what other creepy, crawling critters your business should be scared of, check out this list.


What they threaten:
California’s $1.3 billion citrus industry.

Modus operandi:
The Asian citrus psyllid isn’t such a bad bug on its own, but it can carry the devious and deadly Huanglongbing (HLB) bacteria, which kills all varieties of citrus trees. And what’s truly sneaky is that it’s often not evident for years that a citrus tree has been infected, so if the owner of the trees isn’t aware of what’s going on, the psyllids continue to eat away at the tree, allowing HLB to continue to spread.
“Left unchecked, the Asian citrus psyllid will spread throughout California,” warns Elizabeth Grafton-Cardwell, a University of California entomologist working to minimize the Asian citrus psyllid population. As for the disease it carries, “There is no cure,” Grafton-Cardwell says, “and it is a death sentence for citrus.”

Fun fact:
“The adult psyllid tilts its rear end up in the air when it feeds — a unique posture among citrus pests,” Grafton-Cardwell says.
What they threaten: Wooden furniture manufacturers, lumber companies and at least one famous baseball bat company.

Modus operandi:
This metallic-green, beautiful-but-devastating insect is attempting to destroy 7.5 billion ash trees in the United States. They were first discovered in Michigan in 2002. How they got here is anyone’s guess, but most international insects travel to America for a better life as stowaways in luggage or on humans traveling on planes, or they burrow in cargo on ships or in packages sent through the mail. The emerald ash borer is now found in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Maryland. Pennsylvania’s trees, meanwhile, are the source for the Major League Baseball bats manufactured by the famed company Louisville Slugger, and the state has been girding itself for the emerald ash borer’s arrival but has so far kept them at bay.

Fun fact:
Minnesota is introducing stingless wasps into the state to combat the emerald ash borer.

What they threaten:
California’s $320 million avocado industry, where 90 percent of the nation’s avocados are grown, as well as the peach and apricot industries.

Modus operandi:
They like to feed on avocados, which causes the plant’s leaves to fall prematurely. As the leaves fall too soon, the bark becomes sunburned, the fruit doesn’t grow properly and the avocado trees in general get stressed out.

Fun fact:
The average persea mite only lives 15 to 40 days. The warmer the weather, the shorter the life. Sixty-seven degrees Fahrenheit seems to be the sweet spot.
What they threaten: Every business in parts of Texas, mostly in Houston. Reportedly seen in southern Arkansas.

Modus operandi:
Crazy rasberry ants are named for exterminator Tom Rasberry, who first identified the critters in Houston in 2002. These ants bite humans and are oddly attracted to electrical equipment — they enjoy nesting in it and chewing it up. In fact, the NASA Johnson Space Center in Clear Lake City, Texas, had some crazy rasberry ant sightings and brought in Rasberry to exterminate them.
After exterminations, “I’ve seen them in piles of two to three inches,” says Ron Harrison, technical director for Orkin, the national pest control chain. Harrison says the businesses that seem to be the most in danger of infestation are manufacturing firms that have warehouses and storage areas among trees. Fun fact: They’re called “crazy” because the ants don’t move in a straight line — they move all over in a lot of different, zigzag directions.
What they threaten: The grape and wine industries — and any business that has a building

Modus operandi:
Basically, this is the Asian version of the ladybug, and mostly, they’re harmless. But during the winter, they fly into buildings and crawl into windows, walls and attics. Before dying, they’ll often release an annoying stench and a yellow fluid that stains. But if you’re a fruit grower, you’ll be much more than annoyed. This is war. After all, these Asian lady beetles like to munch on peaches, apples and grapes, among other fruit, and as wine growers have found, if even just a small number of these beetles are accidentally processed along with the grapes, it can taint the wine’s flavor.

Fun fact:
The Asian lady beetle’s stench, which you’ll discover if you try squashing them, Harrison says, “is their way of discouraging things from eating them.”Varroa Destructor

What businesses they threaten:
The beekeeping industry — a $12 billion industry in the United States alone.

Modus operandi:
The varroa destructor is a blood-sucking parasite, attacking both adults and kids. The juvenile honeybees born under the influence of a varroa destructor often are deformed, missing legs or wings. It’s a very bad situation for the bees and not a great one for the honeybee industry, and considering how we depend on bees to pollinate flowers and crops, it’s a bad situation for the world at large.

Fun fact:
The varroa destructor was first discovered in Southeast Asia in 1904. They first turned up in the United States in 1987.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

What they threaten:
Farmers, and they could embarrass some business owners in their own stores.

Modus operandi:
Although the United States has plenty of stink bugs, this one first showed up in Pennsylvania in 1998. Since then, they’ve been attacking farmers’ crops, including apples, figs, peaches, citrus and mulberries. On the plus side, “Often, they just do cosmetic damage rather than actually destroying the fruit,” says Ron Harrison. Of course, try telling a potential customer the apple he’s eying isn’t as disgusting as it looks. As for getting into a place of business, they won’t — unless you have cracks around your windows or doors, or if they can find a way through the utility pipes or by invading your siding.

Fun fact:
Once stink bugs move into your storefront, they will come year after year. They return because they can smell the odor they left behind. It’s kind of like leaving out a sign to other stink bugs that your establishment is a fun vacationspot.Coffee Borer Beetle

What they threaten: Hawaii’s coffee growers, an estimated $60 million industry.

Modus operandi: These insects, which are well-known in Central America and South America, were recently discovered in Hawaii by a University of Hawaii graduate student. The bug bores into the coffee cherry and lays its eggs. As soon as the larvae, the juvenile coffee borers, arrive on the scene, they instantly feeding on the coffee bean. Borers typically ruin about 20 percent of a crop and do an estimated $500 million in damage every year.

Fun fact: The coffee cherry borer is a small beetle, about the size of a sesame seed.

Geoff Williams is a frequent contributor to AOL Small Business. He is also the co-author of the book Living Well with Bad Credit.

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