All About Termites

termites raleigh
Few insects strike fear into a homeowners heart like termites.

Termites cause an estimated 5 billion dollars (yeah, that’s billion with a B) of damage to structures per year, so they’re a legitimate concern to properties.

But fear not! This blog was created to give you a little education about termites so you can rest easy.

So we urge you to reflect on their value before we tell you how to manage them. You don’t have to paint portraits of them or make them individual graves, but maybe just a little decorum.

Know the bug

Termites are small white insects that belong to a colony (of sometimes a million members!).

As opposed to carpenter ants which hollow out wood for nesting, termites colonies eat wood (or, more specifically, the cellulose in wood which is why they also feed on cardboard and paper products).

Termite workers create mud tubes (picture?) to hold in moisture as well as protection from predators while they feed on above ground food sources.

Like most communal insects (like ants), termites send out winged adults (which are commonly called “swarmers”) to start new colonies. If you’ve ever had a swarm in your house, it’s a hard thing to miss. Thousands of these black swarmers with long wings will emerge and basically act like they own the place.

Signs that you have termites

Seeing a swarm is the most common indication that you have termites. Let me tell you, it’s a hard thing to miss when it happens inside. Thousands of these swarmers (which are black with two sets of elegant long wings) seemingly appear from nowhere and begin to scurry and fly in all directions. Very often when it happens inside the swarmers head for a window.

Finding termite mud tubes can also be an indication that you have termites. The most common places to spot them would be on the exterior or interior of the foundation (or support piers). Mud tubes are also commonly found on the walls around the interior of the garage, since very often they can fit through the expansion joint between the slab and the foundation wall.

Homeowners also find termites in wooden members (like wall studs or the backing of sheetrock) while doing handy projects.

Is this termite damage or wood rot?

If you’re seeing damage to wood around your house, it could certainly be from termites but there are also other explanations.

Very often wood rot from moisture is misidentified as termite damage, and the easiest way to tell is by inspecting the damaged wood. If there is mud inside the wood, the damage was very likely caused by termites (since they’ll use mud in the same manner inside wood as they do when building mud tubes onto brick or concrete block). If the wood does not have mud inside of it, and is crumbly to the touch, it’s probably rot caused by moisture.

Tips to keep termites away from your home

There are a few simple things you can do to make your home less attractive to termites.

Termites will follow moisture in the soil to your home, so directing the water from your downspouts as far away from your foundation as possible is important.

Termites love mulch, and the thicker the mulch bed the more they love it. If you mulch around your home, remove the old mulch before adding more.

Make sure there’s no wood to ground contact around the home. The most common is siding that touches the ground (which sometimes occurs from too much mulch). If siding is in contact with the ground the wood will retain moisture over time and also provides termites easy access from the soil into your home.

Since termites help decompose wood in nature, if you stack firewood right near your home or have wood debris in your crawlspace, you’re basically begging termites to chow down on it. Any wood that’s on the ground in the crawlspace should be removed and if your firewood absolutely has to be stacked near the house, consider stacking it on a non wooden object (like concrete, or metal).

I have a termite swarm in my house! Now what do I do!

The first thing that needs to be identified is whether you’re seeing a swarm of ants or termites.

Ant swarmers have a pinched waist and one set of wings is noticeably larger than the other.

Termite swarmers do not have a pinched waist and have two pairs of equal wings which are roughly twice the length of their bodies.

If you see the swarmers coming from a particular spot, you can seal it with a piece of tape or tin foil to try to stop additional swarmers from emerging.

Vacuuming is really the best bet for removing the swarmers from inside the home, and will work just as good (if not better) than an over the counter pesticide.

If you ever have (or think you may have) a termite issue, we have trained termite inspectors to assess the issue.

We use cutting edge eco-sensitive tactics to solve existing termite issues, and we also offer preventive treatments to stop termites from getting in. All of our full house termite services are backed with with a renewable lifetime warranty for the life of the house!
Sustainable Pest Owner

Author: Jeremiah Smith