Houston Homeowners' Ultimate Termite Control Guide
If you have had the experience of purchasing a self-assembly piece of furniture, you understand the overwhelming feeling when you take the components out of the box. You lay out the parts on the floor and arrange them by the numbers, pull out the five-foot package filled screws, nuts, bolts, and connectors, and then sit there for a few moments wondering if you can assemble the unit. But then you pick up the guide, take a deep breath and begin with the first step. Although you may have to re-read a step or ponder for a few minutes, you eventually assemble the unit because you have a guide showing you the way.
We use manuals, directories, and handbooks because we need information, action plans, and instruction from those familiar with the subject or item. When we suspect termites have invaded our property or if we want to be proactive to ensure we protect our homes or businesses from termites, we need a guide to illuminate the way. We wrote this article to provide you with information about termites.
Modern Pest Control provides pest control in Houston to protect families from the ravages of pests like termites. Our independent company has removed termites in the Greater Houston area since 1952. A company does not stay in business for over 70 years without a commitment to quality and customer service. We are one of only a small percentage of pest control companies nationwide that have earned the QualityPro designation. This honor is awarded only to pest control companies that meet 18 standards that fulfill or surpass state and federal requirements. Furthermore, the Texas Department of Agriculture has licensed our highly-trained pest management professionals.
So, as you can see, we are qualified to write about termites because we have the tools, experience, training, and certifications. Please continue to read to learn about termites and what you need to do to protect your family from a future infestation or to stop a current invasion of these wood-destroying insects.
The Life Cycle Of A Termite Colony
To understand the development of a termite colony, we need to begin by answering the question, how does a termite colony form? Since subterranean termites are problematic termite species for Houston homeowners, we will focus on how they develop nests. A termite colony forms when a flying reproductive pair of termites sense odor from fungus-infested wood. Once they land near the rotting, damp wood, they discard their wings, dig four to 18 inches into the dirt to create a small underground chamber, and seal the entrance to guard against predators. Once ensconced in their hideaway, they breed, and the queen produces her first batch of six to 20 white, oval eggs. Over the next one to two weeks, the couple attends to the eggs waiting for the first offspring to emerge. As the queen develops, she produces more eggs annually. At her peak, a queen releases 5,000 to 10,000 eggs yearly. A queen may live for 15 years or more.
A subterranean termite colony has a caste system consisting of reproductives, soldiers, and workers. The first set of termites is worker termites. These male and female termites are wingless, sterile, and blind; their purpose is to provide for the nutritional needs of colony members, create new compartments for the nest, and care for the king and queen's offspring. The future worker termites emerge from the eggs as translucent, soft nymphs. Worker termites live for one to two years.
Termites are insects; one characteristic of insects is that they have an external skeleton known as an exoskeleton. For a termite to grow, it must shed (molt) its exoskeleton, so the newborn nymphs go through growth stages (instars) each time discarding their exoskeletons. The queen and king provide food for the first group of worker termite nymphs, but once the termites mature, they take care of the nutritional needs of future generations. Once the worker termites reach adulthood, these 1/4 to 3/8-inch-long, greyish-white termites forage for food by creating tunnels to the nearby rotting wood source.
Direct sunlight and heat dehydrate subterranean termites quickly, so the first task of the new worker termites is to create passageways to the nearby rotting wood food source. Worker termites build corridors in the soil; if they go above the dirt, they construct mud tubes for protection against the elements. Once they access the wood source, they use their razor-sharp teeth to shave off and ingest the wood. Upon returning to the nest, they regurgitate the shavings and feed the community through a process known as trophallaxis. As the colony expands, the workers create chambers deep into the ground as egg repositories and for nymph development. Worker termites also serve as attendants for the eggs and growing offspring. About 90 to 98% of the termites produced are worker termites, so what types comprise the other two to ten percent?
The king and queen produce two other caste members; soldiers and reproductive termites. Soldier termites make up the majority of the remaining termites. They are similar in size and coloration to worker termites, except for their heads. Since the task of the blind, sterile soldier termites is to protect the colony from ants and other predators, they have an elongated, brownish head with large, strong mandibles. They do not leave the nests to forage but guard the nest openings and chambers against threats.
The king and queen do not produce reproductives until about two to four years after beginning the nest. As their name suggests, the function of these termites is to mate and lay eggs. Since the nest already has a king and queen, they do not remain in the nest, so they develop wings. Also, since they will fly away from the nest, they have pigmentation to protect them from sunlight and eyes so they can see potential food sources. Reproductive termites, known as alates or swarmers, leave the nest in the spring, usually after heavy rains and when temperatures are above 70℉. Because they are not strong flyers, these flying termites ride air currents and search for rotting, damp wood. If they survive the weather and predators and find a suitable location, they land and begin creating a new colony.
Modern Pest Control provides subterranean termite treatment in Houston. Our service pest management professionals are experts at identifying a termite infestation on a Houston property.
The Extent Of Property Damage Termites Can Create
Subterranean termites create large colonies. After a few years, what began with a few eggs from a king and queen, can burgeon into a nest with thousands of worker termites constantly eating wood from nearby sources. A group of 60,000 termites is a small colony; a large group may have two to three million members. A colony of only 60,000 termites can eat five grams of wood daily or about 2.3 feet of a 2x4 piece of lumber annually. Armed with this information, one can imagine how quickly a colony of two to three million termites can wreak havoc on a structure. According to insurance company analysts, termites account for five billion dollars in damages annually throughout the United States. When a homeowner notices termite damage, repair costs will be at least $2,000 to 3,000 dollars.
Subterranean termites infest damp timber in the crawl space, basement, porch, and deck. Worker termites eat wooden support beams, floor joists, and subflooring. Termites consume wood for cellulose, a series of linked sugars. This fibrous material is not only in wood but also in drywall. As the nest expands, worker termites forage in new areas like wall voids, where they feast on the studs and drywall. The termites may advance to the ceiling and eat wooden rafters and the ceiling drywall.
These are examples of subterranean termite damage on your Houston property:
Warping window or door frames
Sagging floors or ceilings
Ceilings with a water-damage appearance
Subterranean termites eat parallel to the wood grain consuming the soft springwood parts of the wood. These tunnels cause wood to sound hollow when tapped by a blunt instrument; they also result in discoloration due to higher moisture levels caused by the termites. Tunnels along the wood grain are evidence of termite damage.
Subterranean termites in wall voids will consume drywall, which is about 10% cellulose; however, they will not bore through to the outside. Since only a thin paper layer remains, moisture brought in by the termites will cause wallpaper and drywall to blister. Although insulation has no nutritional value, they reduce its R-value when they bore through it to attack nearby wood.
Over time, the weakening of floor support beams and infestations in the window and door frames cause them to warp, and they no longer properly close. When one sees drooping ceilings or floor corners pulling away from baseboards, the infestation is severe, and immediate termite removal is necessary to prevent collapsing structures.
Modern Pest Control provides termite control near you. We will stop an infestation to prevent additional damage.
Identify And Remove Factors That Attract Termites
Damp, fungus-infested lumber attracts subterranean termites. Before termites infest a Houston home, they invade a nearby property where moist wood is present. As you survey your property, search for damp wood and drainage issues.
So you can prevent a termite problem after the Modern Pest Control service management professionals treat your home, here are some tips:
Remove dead trees and stumps
Thin dense vegetation
Provide proper drainage to the property
Eliminate buried wood scraps and fallen tree branch
Replace rotting wood fences and landscaping timbers
Install a dehumidifier in the crawl space or basement
Seal cracks in the foundation and around frames
Use pressure-treated wood when replacing fencing and landscaping timbers. Place a metal or heavy plastic sleeve over posts inserted into the ground according to the product's instructions. Ensure proper drainage for ditches, gutters, and low-lying areas to prevent standing water. Slope the dirt from the foundation to drain water away from the house.
Check crawl space and attic vents for air cross-flow. If necessary, hire a contractor to install a dehumidifier to prevent moisture concentration. If the wood in the crawl space contacts the soil, seal it, and use a beam wrap product. Seal outside foundation wall cracks larger than 1/16-inch to prevent access to swarmer termites. Install fine wire screens over the vents.
Modern Pest Control is a termite service near your home that can help with exclusion ideas exclusively for your Houston home. Our trained service management professionals will investigate your property for attractants and entry points.
Professional Termite Control Is The Best Termite Control Solution
If there is one pest control issue that needs professional attention, it is termites. Modern Pest Control has 70 years of experience solving termite infestations in Houston. When you contact us, describe your situation, and request help, we will send a certified pest management specialist to your home.
Our trained pest control technicians know all the signs of a termite infestation; if those signs are present, we will create a strategic plan quickly remove the termites. Decades of experience have proven that the best method to eradicate termites is locked Sentricon® termite bait stations.
These professional-grade inground units require a certified Sentricon® installer. Each bait unit contains a cellulose strip that lures the worker termites in the soil. As they interact with the bait, the termiticide sticks to their body, and they carry the product back to the nest, where it spreads throughout the colony. The product prevents growing termites from shedding their exoskeleton, which causes them to suffocate. The colony dies from the youngest to oldest termites, eventually killing the queen. We use this method for termite pest control in Houston because they do not harm nearby vegetation, children and pets cannot access the units, and they are more effective than liquid-only treatments.
Contact the termite removal specialists at Modern Pest Control today to learn more about our termite treatment plans and warranties. Don't put your house and family at risk by procrastinating. Call today!