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Termite Inspection for Houston Homes...
Facts You Need To Know About Houston Termites --
Termites: A Brief Overview
If you have to spend money on one or the other, it's vastly preferably to do so to control termites than it is to repair damages that they have caused. Once you have preventative termite treatment in place, your annual costs to maintain control should be nominal.
Termite Damage is Often Hidden
By the time obvious damage has been done, the cost of getting it all under control can be towering. You only need to consider the names of the species that abound in Houston to understand why they are so difficult to detect. "Subterranean" means "underground," which means that these pests don't usually see the light of day.
At a glance, there's no way to definitively tell whether termites are underfoot or not. Even if you examine the premises closely, you could easily overlook the existence of an infestation. So --
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Termite Species: An Overview
Another distinction is Drywood termites nest in wood only and enter homes by flying in during a termite swarm. Subterranean species nest in soil primarily and often visit homes and buildings for their food source via mud tubing.
Eastern Subterranean Termite Control
As the most common termite in the world, the eastern subterranean termite has caused untold amounts of damage through the centuries. A mature colony of these destructive pests can include anywhere from 20,000 to more than five million workers.
Queens in eastern subterranean colonies can lay anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 eggs per year, which means that the problem intensifies quickly. These colonies are made up of three distinct castes of termites: soldiers, workers and reproductive termites.
To find eastern subterranean termites, you shouldn't have to dig too deeply. They are usually found at or below ground level, and they thrive in the soil but live off of materials like wood and cardboard, which contain high concentrations of cellulose.
Formosan Subterranean Termite Control
The other type of termite that's prevalent in the Houston area is the Formosan termite. It originated over in Taiwan, but it's thrived in warm parts of the United States. These termites prefer climates where temperatures rarely, if ever, drop below freezing, so it makes sense that they like Houston so much.
A popular nickname for this termite is "super termite" because it is far more destructive than the eastern subterranean termite. A single colony can contain millions and millions of workers, and large Formosan termite colonies can consume more than 13 ounces of wood per day -- that's 24 lbs of structural studs eaten in 30 days.
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Drywood Termite Control
Flying Ants versus Termite Swarmers
It's not unusual for people to mistake swarming termites for flying ants. At first glance, some termites look remarkably like ants. A few easy ways to distinguish one from the other include:
• Termites' forewings and hindwings are the same size while ants' forewings are larger than their hindwings.
• Termites' antennae are straight. Ants' antennae are bent.
• Ants' waists look like wasps' waists. Termites' waists are straight, cigar shaped.
With these points in mind, don't shrug off swarms of what appear to be flying ants. If they are found near windows and doors in the fall and spring, there's a good chance that they are actually swarming termites. They also sometimes emerge from the bases of walls and porches.
Biology and Habits of Termites
Like ants, termite colonies consist of caste systems. Worker termites forage for food, maintain nests and store food. They tend to be the most prevalent in termite colonies. Soldier termites are designed to withstand attacks, and they are primarily concerned with defending the colony against ants, which tend to be the biggest predators of termites.
There are also reproductive termites, which consist of termites from both sexes. In addition to that, the typical termite colony has at least a few egg-laying queen termites.
Signs of a Termite Infestation
If you live in the Houston area, you definitely don't want to wait until you see clear signs of a termite infestation. By that time, copious amounts of damage will have already been done.
However, it helps to have a basic grasp of the most common signs of termite infestations. In the case of Formosan subterranean termites, which work at destructively rapid speeds, reacting quickly to signs of an infestation is absolutely critical.
Fecal Pellets: The other common signs of a drywood termite infestation aren't nearly as obvious. The presence of tiny fecal pellets called frass is one sign. Frass closely resembles sawdust, which makes sense because it is generally pushed out through wood. As a result, the wood nearby may have tiny kick-out holes.
Termite Damage. Finally, subtle damage to window sills and other wood structures in the home could be a sign of a drywood termite infestation.
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What You Can Do to Reduce the Risk of
Without understanding a few basic things about termites, keeping them out of your Houston home isn't going to be easy. There are a few ways to reduce the risk of a termite infestation. A few of the best examples include:
An initial assessment of your home will reveal how often these inspections should be done. Most people get by with one inspection per year, but various factors may make it necessary to have these inspections performed more often.
Top Termite Treatment Methods
Whole-house termite treatment involves fumigation, and large tents are typically draped over the home to keep the fumes inside where they can kill termites.
Another but less common type of whole-house termite treatment involves raising the temperature in the home excessively. In this case, it may be taken up to between 120 and 150 degrees. At those temperatures, enzymes within termites are denatured and cell membranes are destroyed, which ultimately kills them.
Spot Treatments for Termites
Bait Systems versus Liquid Termite Treatments
At any rate, a major drawback of bait systems is that they are usually spaced several feet apart. It's easy for termites to miss them altogether, and they aren't designed to attract termites in any way.
With full liquid termite treatments, there is a zone that goes all the way around a home. Another thing to keep in mind is that bait systems usually take a long time to produce results.
In some cases, baits can take as long 1-2 years to eliminate the original colony. Liquid termite treatments, on the other hand, can go to work immediately and a complete and thorough treatment can eliminate a colony in as little as a few short weeks.
The Limitations of Do-It-Yourself Termite Treatment
It's nice to take care of issues around the house yourself whenever possible. However, termite control calls for professional help. A professional termite control company will analyze the problem and use its knowledge and experience to determine the appropriate treatment.
The best termite control companies offer warranties too. If termites return, you may be able to call the company back out for free. If you do it yourself and it doesn't work, which is quite likely, you will be back at square one. Worse, a failed do-it yourself treatment could result in new damage and costly repairs.
Termite Inspection -- Key to Termite Control
After inspecting your home, our termite control company will tell you whether termite activity was found or not.
Even if no infestations are found, you should plan on having regular termite inspections performed at your Houston home. It's the only reliable way to reduce the risk of termite infestations.
How long has it been since you had a termite inspection performed? If you live in or near Houston and haven't had one done lately, it's time you did. The risks are simply too great--
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