Subterranean termite species are among the most destructive wood devouring insects that can invade your home. These underground insects begin their infestation of your property in the damp earth under a woodpile, around the foundation of a house or in low-lying areas of your yard where water tends to gather. Eventually, subterranean termite infestation spreads from the colony in the soil into your residence. Termites build mud tunnels along the walls and other structures of your house in order to enter the home.
Dry wood, damp wood and subterranean termite species are common in many regions of the US, particularly in damp, humid states that experience warm weather in the spring time. Methods for eradicating subterranean termite colonies may be completely different from methods for killing other species. If you detect signs of infestation, such as mud tubes or piles of insect wings in the spring months, contact a professional pest control service for an inspection. A professional team can confirm whether you have a subterranean termite infestation on your property and inform you on repairs for termite damage.
Subterranean Termite Characteristics
Subterranean pests have unique methods for traveling through your property and consuming the wooden structures of your home. Unlike other species, which may leave tiny “kickout holes” where they exit a wooden structure, subterranean insects utilize mud tunnels to travel back and forth from the soil into your home. You may see these irregular earthen tubes running along crawl spaces, foundations, or pipes. Subterranean intruders may also enter your house through cracks in a concrete foundation.
Underground termite colonies include different castes of insects, which perform unique functions for the group. Workers consume wood and care for the immature larval members of the colony. Soldiers defend the colony against attacks from predators or intruders. Reproductive members are responsible for perpetuating the species. During the moist, warm spring months, winged reproductive members may be seen swarming around lighted areas of your home.
If there is a source of wood near a subterranean colony, colony members may not leave the area. Termite infestations usually begin when workers leave their underground home in search of nourishment. These persistent termite species will devour any material that contains cellulose, including wood, paper or cardboard. Outside, subterranean insects are drawn to wood piles, fences, tree trunks and other wooden objects. Once inside your home, termite damage may extend to your walls, ceilings, furniture, books and other paper belongings.
Preventing Subterranean Termite Infestations
To the untrained eye, subterranean termite damage may be difficult to detect. These pests have a distinctive method of devouring wooden structures from the inside out, creating hollowed areas by consuming the softer portions of the grain. By the time a homeowner notes signs of termite infestation, such as mud tubes or discarded wings, the structural components of the house may already be damaged. If you lightly tap a beam or post every few inches and hear hollow sounds, there may be termites dwelling inside the wood.
A professional pest control team will inspect a property for subterranean colonies and investigate the interior structures for signs of damage. If your house has been infested, a licensed pest control service will exterminate the insects using large volumes of professional strength insecticide, in combination with paper or cardboard baits that have been treated with substances that are toxic to termites. After the initial extermination is complete, service technicians may return to perform property inspections and monitor termite activity inside the baits.
As a homeowner, you can take certain precautions to reduce your risk of a home infestation and avoid expensive insect damage repair. Remove any woodpiles, hollow tree trunks or other wooden structures from the immediate vicinity of your house. If you have leaky outdoor water faucets, have them repaired so that they do not provide a source of moisture for underground colonies. Do not plant trees or shrubs within several feet of your house, if possible. Talk with a professional pest control service about measures you can take to discourage these pests.
Some homeowners choose to have their property treated with metal or chemical barriers before an infestation occurs. With liquid barriers, termiticides are injected into the soil to create a chemical wall between the house and the soil. Alternatively, metal barriers may be installed around the foundation to keep insects from entering the building. If you are constructing a new dwelling, the soil can be pretreated to discourage colonization.
Out of all the species that could infest a dwelling, subterranean termite species may be the most harmful to your residence. Compare estimates from several professionals on the cost of protecting your valuable property against these pests. With careful annual inspections and a thorough regimen of prevention, you may avoid the financial consequences of severe insect damage and enjoy a structurally sound home for many years.