Termites – A Homeowner’s Nightmare
Few things in life can depress a homeowner quicker than the discovery of evidence that indicates termites may reside within their home, and few animals on the planet are more capable of destroying a structure as quickly as a colony of this species. The modern termite is truly a descendant of a wood-eating cockroach, which helps explain their prolific survival and adaptation abilities. Termites can be found on nearly every continent with high humidity and, contrary to popular belief, can survive on a wide variety of diets other than just wood. Large termite colonies can include millions of workers and soldiers; effectively devouring precious nutrients from the ecosystem while driving off any competitor insects. Although this species is actively sought by a large number of predators for food, their overall numbers continue to grow within the United States as they expand out into different regions and eliminate virtually anything within their path.
The termite’s life is similar to the ant in many ways; large colonies are formed with a strong focus placed on the group as a whole. A colony is started by a single female termite which is named a queen. Her suitor is properly referred to as a king, and this male termite remains within the colony tending to their young. As the colony expands various responsibilities are stated to each individual, ranging from foraging to colony defense to reproductive duties. The young are hatched from eggs and go by various molting cycles which ultimately determine which responsibility they will carry within their kingdom, and by hormones the colony seems to keep up a proper balance of termites for each task required. During the spring and fall months high queens will fly away from the colony in search of a appropriate building ecosystem, and if temperature conditions are met the time of action begins all over again in a new colony. Since a single queen can lay in excess of a thousand eggs per day over a course of several years, expansion possibilities are nearly endless.
Termites can only survive within moist environments that allow protection to the outer coating of their skin, and they will not leave the colony unless the relative humidity is near 100%. In other words, termites can only attack the wood of a structure if the proper environmental conditions are met. To protect your home, eliminate excess moisture by trimming back hedges from your residence, stop any leaks or natural runoffs that allow water to form around your dwelling, and seal off any fractures or crevices that would allow this insect entry. In some areas sand barriers provide effective protection, and various pesticides can also be sprayed around your perimeter to keep this pest away. The most important step for a homeowner to take is to have regular inspections of the character completed, and to avoid the temptation of destroying existing colonies without the help of a licensed specialized. In these situations pesticides will often excursion the colony away, but the chances are good that their next residence could be beneath your home. Always contact a pest control specialist at the first sighting of termites.