While all termite infestations are serious matters that require immediate attention from pest control specialists, subterranean termites are by far the most damaging to wood, and they can cause significant property damage to Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvanian business, buildings and facilities of all types.
The most devastating part of the problem is that they are not easily detected until their “work is done”, so the potential destruction they can cause can often be quite costly. In fact, it was recently reported that every year termites cause some $5 billion dollars in property damage to both residences and commercial spaces. Yikes, right?
For a business owner, pest infestations of any type are troublesome, but the last thing you want to discover is a termite infestation after it’s happened, so it’s absolutely important for any owner or business manager to take preventative pest control measures with professional, ongoing pest management and inspections to avoid being the victim of wood-destroying insects.
Read on to learn more about these cryptic nuisances, how you can further protect your business against them and an overview of the pro-active measures Pestco Professional Services has been providing and refining for well over seventy years, or call our team today to schedule an inspection (412) 252-5200.
What Exactly Are Termites?
Termites are the smallest, yet most devastating, wood-destroying insects on the face of the earth. There are over 2,700 termite species found throughout the world. They resemble ants, but differ from them because they feed off wood. Ants are their main competitors for both territory and predators.
At times, ant and termite colonies situated close to each other will go to war, battling over territory and food sources. These are highly organized invasions conducted by the soldier castes of each respective colony.
Like ants, termites live in underground colonies where their labor is divided. Soldier termites protect the colony and comprise 1/3 of the population; workers cause the most damage by eating wood and building tunnels. Workers are the most numerous within the colony. The queen or king of a termite colony can live up to ten years and they are at the reproductive heart of the population.
Termites seek to nest in and around susceptible buildings and residences of all types. Their daily activities can and often do devastate entire structures. The worst aspect of their presence is that they do their damage with very few clues they are at work until it is far too late for the pest care and pest management professionals to do much about it.
The Eastern Subterranean Termite
This type of termite constructs tunnels that are also known as mud tubes. This allows them to access food sources and offers protection from the open air. Cellulose is a fundamental element in their dietary regimen, as is the case with other termite species.
Subterranean varieties build their nests underground as their name indicates, which means that within their tunnels, damaged wood usually contains an accumulation of soil or mud.
Subterranean termites only eat the softwood, which results in layered damage. In addition, unlike others of their ilk, they eat with the grain rather than across it.
They are mostly found in the Eastern United States, including Texas, and have been found as far North as Ontario, Canada.
Subterranean Termite Diet and Behavior
It is estimated that subterranean insects have had a long time to practice their destructive skills and have been on earth for over 55 million years. They are successful primarily because they are social insects and live and work together.
Family groups called colonies grant each insect a specific task that benefits the colony as a whole, unlike other insects like grasshoppers or roaches that work only for themselves.
Division Of Labor Among Termites Allows For Maximum Damage
Within the subterranean termite colony, a strict caste system flourishes, each with its own designated purpose. An entire caste is responsible for feeding their parents and siblings, while another only reproduces, and because of this division of labor, the colony functions as a single entity.
Outside of the “reproducers”, there are the soldiers, workers and swarmers, amounting to an arsenal whose life purpose results in wreaking horrible havoc upon the buildings, structures and facilities that we humans inhabit, own or operate our businesses from.
It is still somewhat of a mystery as to exactly how subterranean termites locate food sources. It is believed that they divide up the territory around the nest and begin digging their tunnels.
What’s undeniably unfortunate is this caste system enables any subterranean termite colony to inflict maximum damage to structures.
Finding Food Sources
When food is found in the form of buried wood, foraging termites produce pheromones that influence the behavior of other insects in the colony.
These chemicals are odors that act as messengers to other termites within the colony. They lay down a pheromone trail, which is intensified to send other termites to the feeding site. The strength of the trail is greatly influenced by soil temperature, moisture and the size and quality of the food source.
Because termites consume cellulose, the main structural components of plant cells, any wood material in a building serves as a potential food source. They may also, however, damage non-wood material in search of food. Although they consume mostly wood, termites are also known to destroy books, documents and photographs.
Subterranean termites must always live deep within the soil because they are constantly at risk of drying out. Soil keeps the colony moist at all times because it has the capacity to retain water for long periods.
Even when they forage above the ground, termites must never venture far from the soil where they periodically return via the mud tunnels to replenish their body moisture.
Termites And The Damage They Cause To Pittsburgh Industry
As mentioned earlier, termites cause an estimated $5 billion in property damages and repair costs annually. More than 4 million homes and businesses within the United States are at risk of infestation every year.
This figure is even more staggering when it comes to damages incurred by termites to building structures and crops, which amounts to a staggering $30 billion.
Subterranean termites eat all the time, which make them the most destructive insect species found in the United States, and more locally to us, to businesses throughout Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania.
Relevant Studies And Statistics On Termites
Entomologists, product companies, and leading pest control and pest management enterprises, are consistently at work, determined to counteract the destructive nature of subterranean termites through study and research.
They are focused on both the basic biology and behavior of termites and on creating products that will not only eliminate infestations, but will also serve to protect structures from their destruction.
According to Rich Kalik of Specialty Consultants: “We expect the industry to continue to grow with the sale of preventative post-construction termite treatments. These are defined as treatments to established structures that do not have a termite or other wood-destroying organism (WDO) infestation.”
16 Little Known And Interesting Facts About Termites
- Termites Can Be Nutritious Food: Termites are rich in iron, calcium, fatty and amino acids, and proteins, making them a hearty snack for both the desperate and the not-so-faint-of- heart.
- Termites Are Insomniacs: These insects never sleep. They build their colonies 24 hours a day, every day, until they die.
- Termites Are Eusocial Insects: Like ants, termites live in caste systems, where each division has its own role within the colony. Only the worker termites, however, have the ability to destroy wood.
- Soldier And Reproductive Termite Castes Cannot Feed Themselves: These colony divisions rely on worker termites to feed them by regurgitating digested cellulose into their mouths.
- The Estimated Combined Weight Of Every Termite On Earth Would Be 445 Million Tons: In comparison to and given that same placement for humans, collectively on a scale we would weigh 350 million tons!
- Queens Have The Longest Lifespan Of Any insect In The World: Some termite queens may live between 30 and 50 years, reproducing annually and founding numerous colonies.
- Some Termite Queens Are Incredibly Fertile: The queens of some termite species can lay 15 to 25 eggs per minute and over 40,000 per day.
- Some Subterranean Termite Nests Contain Thousands Of Insects: This is especially true if a termite colony has more than one egg-laying female. Nests can grow very quickly from hundreds to thousands of insects.
- Termites Are Extremely Hygienic Insects: Termite colonies spend a great deal of time grooming one another to prevent disease.
- There Are Three Basic Types Of Termites: These types are defined by their diets. Damp wood termites only consume wet, rotting wood. Dry wood species only eat dry wood and the subterranean variety only feeds on the soft woods found under the soil.
- Termites Have Temporary Wings: The termite grows wings only when it is necessary. When swarming to create a new colony, they will grow wings to move away. Once a colony is established, they shed their wings.
- Subterranean Termites Are Masters Of Mud: Subterranean colonies are complex mud structures that serve as pathways to vulnerable soft wood.
- Termites Are Beneficial to The Environment: Despite the severe damage they cause to structures of all kinds, termites aid in the health of our forests and the decomposition of soil. They break down tough plant fibers and recycle dead and decaying trees into new soil.
- Termite Fathers Help Raise Their Young: Unusual in the insect world, termite fathers remain with the queen after mating. They fertilize her eggs when needed and also help to feed predigested food to their young.
- Termite Workers And Soldiers Are Almost Always Blind: In almost all species, both the workers and soldiers in any termite colony are blind. They spend their lives in the confines of the dark, damp nest, and have no need to develop functional eyes.
- Termite Queens Influence What Role Offspring Will Play In Nest: Termite queens feed their young their pheromone-laden feces. The type of pheromone the queen secretes onto this waste determines the role the consuming termite will grow into.
Preventative Termite Inspections And Control
A single colony of subterranean termites contains anywhere from 100,000-1,000,000 termites and they can forage up to 150 feet in search of food.
In the case of a full-blown termite infestation, professional help from expert pest control and pest management technicians is required to both eliminate the infestation and prevent another one from arising.
As mentioned earlier, structural infestations do not show themselves until it is too late. This does not mean that preventive measures cannot be taken.
Because subterranean termites forage in soil, lumber-supporting structures must be kept from making direct contact with the earth. Inspection for termite shelter tubes can be made easier if business owners keep lower foundation walls and siding clear of vegetation or mulch.
Excessive moisture is very pleasing to termites and this means that leaky plumbing, air conditioning condensate, and any portion of a building and its perimeter that collects excessive amounts of moisture must be corrected.
Traditional preventive subterranean termite measures include spraying the soil beneath the building’s foundation with liquid insecticides.
In many US states, there is one pre-building construction treatment that is mandatory for all owners and managers of commercial spaces. This concerns treating the soil with insecticides before any slab placement. This action will form a chemical barrier between the ground slab and masonry that will prevent termites from approaching a new structure.
There are other tactics that can be employed over and beyond this stipulation. This concerns the application of a vertical barrier around the structure as soon as the foundation is poured. Post construction treatment is more complex and involves drilling holes through cement slabs, injecting insecticides under the foundation and soaking trenches dug along building foundations.
Why Pestco’s Termite Control Application Techniques?
We’ve been providing effective pest control and pest management solutions since 1948 throughout Pittsburgh, western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and the West Virginia Panhandle.
Over the years, we have developed a superior customer service reputation with our many commercial clients, and our team understands that no one product ever fits-all strategies and situations.
We utilize only products that are environmentally friendly and promote a carbon footprint policy that will insure a green planet for future generations.
Our technicians are highly trained and experienced and take the time to educate their clients as to what they can do to minimize the risk of returning termites. They welcome questions and, more importantly, offer helpful, constructive and strategic solutions.
Annual inspections are vitally important to commercial pest control and pest management.
They must become integrated with company operations, as they are essential to the verification that products are working effectively, that new gaps have not appeared and that termites have not created their own new modes of ingress.
If you’re business is in need of exclusion or proactive pest measures from termite, cockroaches, ants, bed bugs or any other nuisance pest, give our team a call today at (412) 252-5200 for peace of mind tomorrow.
Final thoughts about termites: Termite Pick-Up Line: So, what say later on you and I go out for some coffee table?~ Pinterest