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Termites Wreak Havoc On Historically Significant Government Buildings

Numerous timber-made structures of historical significance are still inhabited today in Beaumont. Unfortunately, Beaumont’s location in eastern Texas means that termites of several species are also abundant in the city. Multiple subterranean termite species can be found in the region, including the most economically damaging species, the eastern subterranean termite, and the highly destructive invasive species known as the Formosan subterranean termite. Naturally, the high number of termites in eastern Texas wreak havoc on Beaumont’s many historically significant structures. Several large scale restoration projects have saved many of the town’s buildings from termite destruction over the years. For example, during the spring of 2016, the Jefferson County Courthouse in Beaumont underwent renovations in order to correct extensive damage inflicted by termites. The termite damage even reached the fourth floor of the courthouse, and renovations were not easy due to the unique style of decorative wood found throughout the structure.

The Jefferson County Courthouse was built during the 1930s at a cost of one million dollars. At the time this was a relatively high price for constructing a building, but the building’s majestic black walnut paneling was considered to be worth the high price, even during the depression era. The termite infestation had plagued the courthouse for what must have been decades, as termite damage inflicted to the expensive wood paneling in the commissioners court had been apparent for years to anyone who entered the fourth floor. Heavily damaged veneer, missing panels and deep termite tracks indicated Formosan subterranean termite activity. However, most of the termite damage had been inflicted to the soft longleaf and yellow pine timber-frame below the cosmetic wood paneling. One judge who had worked in the building claimed that he often had to brush sawdust-like wood carvings off his pants on a regular basis for years due to termite workers plowing through the wood above him. Another judge who worked in the building made a similar comment, only he recalled wood shavings landing directly on his head while presiding at his bench. Despite assurances from local pest control professionals that the building had been cleared of all termites, the judges still frequently visited the location during the renovation in order to see for themselves that the termite activity had truly ceased. Local regulations required the renovation company to find wood replacements that matched the original wood as closely as possible. Although this was a tall order, the courthouse was eventually restored to its original state.

Have you ever seen heavy termite damage within a home or building?

 

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Why And How Pest Control Professionals Use Integrated Pest Management Guidelines To Combat Termite Pests

Termites consist of subterranean, drywood and dampwood species. Dampwood termites are the least destructive termite species, as these termites can only infest wood that has an exceedingly high moisture content. The Pacific northwest sees the greatest amount of dampwood termite damage in the US, and the desert dampwood termite is the only dampwood species found in Texas. Drywood termite species are not widespread in the US, but they are abundant and highly destructive in the southern states, particularly the southwest. At least 14 termite species have been documented in Texas, of these, four are drywood termites. The most economically damaging drywood termite species in Texas is the desert drywood termite. The most economically costly termites in the US, subterranean termites, account for 80 percent of all termite damage costs per year in the country. Several subterranean termite species can be found in Texas, including the eastern subterranean termite, the arid-land subterranean termites, and the invasive Formosan subterranean termite.

For decades, fumigants and soil termiticides were the only termite treatment options available, as termites were late to be added to the integrated pest management program (IPM), which sees pest infestations addressed in a number of practical and environmentally friendly ways, as opposed to relying solely on insecticides to eliminate pests. IPM also stresses preventative pest control treatment methods in order to control pests around structures. Today, termite infestations can be prevented with soil barriers, including termiticide barriers and physical barriers, like stainless steel mesh. IPM practices also aim to manage pest infestations by modifying the indoor and outdoor environment on properties to make conditions less conducive to pest populations. Many researchers had long hoped that termite pests would be addressed with the IPM guidelines, but it was not until the invasive Fomrosan subterranean termite species became a mutli-billion dollar a year pest in the US that industry professionals realized that a broader array of tactics would be necessary to control termite pests in the US. This led to termite control research that enabled pest control professionals to combat termites in more practical, eco-friendly, and more efficient ways. For example, instead of relying on insecticides, pest control researchers now know that high-moisture conditions caused by pipe leaks, clogged gutters, or faulty rainwater drainage systems often make homes more attractive to termite pests. By simply removing a moisture source, a home can be made unlivable for termites, causing the pests to abandon a structure.

Have you ever found termites in your lawn grass?

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You Won’t Believe What Caused An Elderly Woman’s Lifelong Houston Home To Become Ravaged By Termites

Termite infestations are common in all areas of Texas, particularly in the east and southeast where the invasive Formosan subterranean termite species has been expanding its habitat in urban and suburban areas for decades. Unlike most subterranean termite species, Formosan subterranean termites are able to infest trees where they may travel along branches that make contact with houses. Ever since the Formosan subterranean termite became a common pest in Texas, experts have noted the invasive termite’s ability to infest homes by using tree branches as a sort of bridge that allows them to access roofs and wood siding.

While subterranean termites usually require regular contact with soil in order to retain water, Formsosans can maintain permanent infestations within trees, and on roofs as long as sufficiently damp natural and structural-timber can be found. Many older homes in Texas contain structural-timber that has become damp over the years, which is why Formosan subterranean termites are often found infesting a home’s upper levels and/or roof without ever making ground contact. More than two years ago, an eldelry woman’s Houston home became infested after a termite-riddled branch snapped and fell through her home, smashing a hole through her roof. Now, her entire home is infested with termites, causing the structure to literally fall apart around her.

Mary Dunham moved into her Houston home 70 year ago, but due to the termite-related structural damage her home sustained a couple of years ago, the city of Houston ordered the home to be demolished. In response, Mary applied for assistance through the City of Houston’s housing program, and she qualified in May of 2018. However, help never came, and Mary’s home continued to fall apart around her. Luckily, a local news station covered Mary’s story, which prompted her to be bumped to the top of the housing assistance priority list after the mayor himself surveyed the damage. Mary’s old home will still have to be demolished, but the city has agreed to build her a brand new house. While Mary will certainly miss her lifelong home, she admits that she is eager to move into her new termite-free house.

Have you ever found a tree that had become heavily infested with termites?

 

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Termites Have Been Found In Homes And Buildings Only 4 Days After Construction 

Every year in the United States termites cause well over one billion dollars in property damage alone, far more than the economic cost of tornadoes, hurricanes and all wind storms combined. Having a termite inspection conducted in and around a home is not expensive, but having an active termite infestation eradicated from a home can be costly depending on the extent of the infestation and the degree of damage inflicted. Unfortunately, the entire eastern half of Texas is located in a geographic zone where termite activity is categorized as “very heavy,” while the western half is categorized as “heavy to moderate.” The high termite activity in eastern Texas is largely due to the well established presence of the invasive Formosans subterranean termite, which is considered the most destructive termite species in the world. Also, the Gulf Coast area is a hotbed for termite activity, as all termite species rely on copious amounts of water and high-moisture conditions in order to survive, which explains why the destructive insects thrive in southeast Texas. It is recommended that residents of east Texas have two termite inspections conducted on their property per year in order to avoid the economic burden of a termite infestation, while residents of west Texas should have one termite inspection conducted per year.

Many residents are under the impression that only old homes are vulnerable to termite attacks. While it is true that older homes are particularly vulnerable to termite attacks, termite infestations have occurred in Texas homes during construction, and it is not uncommon for homes in southeast Texas to become infested a mere four days after construction is complete. In some cases, an old home may be better protected from termite infestations than a new home, as old homes that are bordered by a termiticide barrier are less likely to become infested than a new home that is lacking such a barrier. While drywood termites are less common than subterranean termites in Texas, the former can be more difficult to detect and eradicate from a home. Subterranean termites can often be eradicated from a home with wood treatments or bait stations, but drywood infestations often require fumigations, as spot treatments can be a gamble. The only sure method of ridding a home of termites is to have a wood-penetrating fumigation carried out, but this is only a last resort, and recently developed termite control methods have proven effective while being far less of an inconvenience for the occupants of an infested home.

 

If your home became infested with termites which sort of eradication method would you prefer?

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Which Termite Species Are Most Destructive In Texas, And Where Can They Be Found In The State

While termites infest homes within every region of Texas, infestations are more common in the south where a greater number of species can be found. The termite species responsible for the greatest amount of property damage in the United States, the native eastern subterranean termite, is abundant throughout the state, particularly in the cooler north. This is the only termite species out of several in Texas that may be more abundant in the northern half of Texas than in the south. Despite this, the eastern subterranean termite is actually more destructive in the south, as the state’s largest and most populous cities are located in the south where timber-framed structures are in greater number and are more densely located. This allows the ground-dwelling termite to move from house-to-house in suburban and urban southern areas. However, the significant disparity between the north and south concerning termite infestation rates largely stems from the fact that the south is home to several highly destructive termite species, most notably the invasive Formosan subterranean termite, which is the most structurally devastating termite species in the world next to the Asian subterranean termite, which has established an invasive habitat in the state of Florida only. Luckily, the Formosan’s invasive habitat in the US is limited to the southeast where the insects are particularly abundant near the Gulf Coast. This puts the largest city in Texas, Houston, right in the center of the most active Formosan subterranean termite zone.

While the Formosan subterranean termite has been found in counties in every area of Texas, this species maintains a permanent habitat within 31 counties in the southeast and into the central portion of the state. The native eastern and invasive Formosan subterranean termites are usually the only two subterranean termites in Texas that are mentioned by experts, but another subterranean species, the arid-land subterranean termite, can be found all over Texas, but infestations are almost exclusive to the west and southwest portion of the state only. Although this species is highly damaging, it is often overshadowed by the far more destructive eastern and Formosan subterranean termite species. Another native subterranean termite species, R. virginicus, also maintains a small population in eastern Texas. A Drywood species, the desert drywood termite, is the most destructive drywood termite in the United States, and it is abundant in the west and southwest region of the state. The desert dampwood termite is the only dampwood species in Texas, and it can be found in the southwest, west and even the northwest portion of the state. This species is of little concern in the state, as it does not infest structures often.

Have you ever heard of anyone’s home becoming infested with dampwood termites

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Which Areas Of Texas Are Hit Hardest By Termite Infestations

Texas is home to several termite pest species that cause significant damage to timber-framed structures in every area of the state. These species include the eastern subterranean termite, the arid-land subterranean termite, the western subterranean termite, the western drywood termite, the native subterranean termite, the Formosan subterranean termite, and more. Termite control and repair costs in the US exceed 5 billion dollars annually, which makes termites the most economically significant insect pests in the country. In an effort to reduce the damage that termites inflict to structures, pinpointing termite habitats and tracking termite movements into new areas is a priority for government employed entomologists. This is especially true when it comes to the invasive Formosan termite species, which has established colonies within the entirety of the eastern half of Texas, but the Golden Triangle sees the highest rate of Formosan termite infestations. This is not to say that Formosan termite infestations are unheard of in west Texas, as these insects also infest dead trees that are sometimes removed so that the wood can be shipped to other areas of the state for commercial purposes . According to entomologists, the eastern half of Texas sees “very heavy” termite pest activity, while the eastern half is considered “heavy to moderate” in terms of termite pest activity.

While Formosan subterranean termites are most problematic in southeastern cities like Beaumont, Lumberton, Houston and Port Arthur, eastern subterranean termites are active in every region of the state. Eastern subterranean termites usually swarm during February and March in Texas, while Formosans swarm during the month of May, but swarms are often spotted in April as well. Unlike eastern subterranean termite swarmers (alates), Formosan subterranean termite swarmers are attracted to outside lights, much like moths. These swarms can become a nuisance, and if they are spotted near a structure, then a colony must be nesting nearby. If a swarm occurs within a structure, an active infestation has likely already been established. Not long ago, a massive Formosan termite swarm occurred near a business in Beaumont, causing the outside window sills and front walkway to become covered with thousands of dead alates. In other words, Formosan termite swarms are difficult to miss, as they are large in size and are apt to approach outdoor lights around dusk. Eastern subterranean alates are slightly smaller in size, and they often swarm during the daytime after a bout of rainfall. Western and arid-land subterranean termites are most abundant within the western half of Texas.

Have you ever examined a winged termite (alate) shortly after witnessing a swarm?

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A Historically Significant Texas Church Is Infested With Termites

It is currently not hard to find piles of discarded termite wings in urban areas of southeast Texas, as winged termites (alates) of multiple species have been swarming frequently in the region. This time of year sees swarms of southeastern drywood termites, dark southeastern subterranean termites, arid-land subterranean termites and Formosan subterranean termites emerge in areas all over the southern half of Texas, particularly southeast Texas where Formosan subterranean termites are abundant. Alates from the most destructive termite species in the US, the eastern subterranean termite species, are probably still active, but their swarming behavior is winding down and will soon cease for the year. Formosan subterranean termite swarms are by far the most conspicuous, as these swarms contain a relatively high number of alates.

Formosan swarms occur at night, and alates are attracted to artificial lights, making swarms a major nuisance for homeowners. The bodies of Formosan alates are covering some homes, and many residents have reported the presence of thousands of alates gathering on window frames and entering homes beneath doors. In some cases, alates are establishing new colonies indoors. In Waco, a historically significant African-American church was recently found to be infested with termites.

The Texas Historical Commission has recently petitioned the National Park Service to have the St. James United Methodist Church building registered as a historically significant structure. The building was recently purchased by a couple who plan to open a restaurant in the building’s basement. Unfortunately, termites are damaging some areas of the building, particularly the original wood window frames. The termite pests were likely attracted to the high moisture environment within the building. The building’s significant leaks and water-logged structural and cosmetic wood provide termites with an ideal environment. Hopefully, the termites can be eradicated before they inflict irreparable damage. The building was constructed in 1924 out of brick masonry, but this has not stopped termites from eating away at the floors, window frames and parts of the roof.

Have you witnessed any termite swarms yet this year?

 

 

 

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How The Recent Climate In East Texas Has Led To An Explosion Of Swarming Termites In The Region

Termites start becoming active during the spring season in Texas, and it is during this time that homeowners need to start being mindful about the destructive insects and their possible presence on properties. Spring and early summer is the best time to have a home in east Texas inspected for termites, as the climate during this time of year causes swarming termites to emerge from the ground in search of new colony nesting sites. Winged termites (alates) are already beginning to swarm in large numbers in the region due to the recent increase in temperatures and the rise in humidity levels. According to experts, the subterranean termites that are most abundant in east Texas begin to swarm when temperatures reach 80 degrees and when humidity levels reach 80 percent. Therefore, it is highly likely that numerous homes in the region have already become infested with species like eastern and Formosan subterranean termites.

After finding an area of a home that has become infested with termites, it is common for the home’s owner to dismiss the notion that termites may be infesting other areas of his/her home. However, pest controllers claim that it is typical to find termites eating away at structural wood located within vastly different areas of a home. In fact, one termite colony often feeds on wood located within 35 to 40 different locations around a house. So even after a termite infestation has been spotted by a homeowner, there remains a good chance that he/she has not seen the worst of the damage being inflicted. Already this year, an unusually high number of homes in east Texas have become infested with termites. One resident, Arleen Sterling, claims her home became infested despite personally inspecting all areas of her home on a daily basis. Of course, Sterling did not waste a moment contacting a pest control operator who promptly drilled into her home’s foundation in order to inject termiticides that dissolve the destructive insects. Due to the high number of termite swarms spotted in east Texas already, residents of the area are strongly advised to have professional inspections carried out on their property.

Have you ever found a termite infestation in multiple areas of your home?

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How The Daniel Boone Log Cabin Was Saved From Termite Destruction

Texas is home to several termite species, the most common of which are eastern subterranean termites, Formosan subterranean termites and western drywood termites. All three of these species dwell within most of Texas, while the Formosan termite is typically found only within the southeastern to central region of the state. Texas, especially eastern Texas, is located within a high activity zone for termites, so infestations within homes are not at all uncommon in the state. Homes located in east Texas see the highest rate of termite infestations. Luckily, newer homes are more likely to be surrounded with a termiticide barrier which prevent subterranean termites from accessing a home’s boundaries, but infestations in new homes are certainly not unheard of in any area of Texas. Considering how common termite infestations are in Texas, you can imagine how vulnerable a 160 year old log cabin must be to termite attack, especially if that log cabin is located in east Texas. Not surprisingly, the historically significant Daniel Boone log cabin succumbed to a termite infestation decades ago. The treasured site was nearly destroyed by termites until a group of University students worked to restore and relocate the cabin during the mid to late 2000s.

Back in 2005, students in professor Caroline Crimm’s hands-on history class started to rebuild Daniel Boone’s termite infested cabin when it was located 11 miles outside of Huntsville in eastern Texas. The cabin was owned by Boone’s relatives until they donated the infested cabin to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in 2004. The next year, students at Sam Houston University disassembled the cabin and rebuilt the structure at the museum. The students did the best they could to reuse the cabin’s original logs, but many had been heavily damaged by termites. In order to prevent further termite infestations in the cabin at its new location near the school’s dormitory, cement was used to fuse the logs together, as opposed to mud and hay, which attracts termites. The roof, which had been damaged by termites, was replaced with an aluminum roof, and the cabin’s porches were also replaced. The cabin’s restoration cost a mere 25,000 dollars thanks to the efforts of Sam Houston University history students.

Do you know of any other historical structure in Texas that had to be rebuilt due to having sustained termite damage?

 

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Why Are Termite Infestation Cases Increasing In Southeast Texas?

Several destructive termite species exist within every region of Texas, but cities in the southeast near the Gulf Coast have been seeing a dramatic rise in termite infestations over the past few years. Last summer it was reported that the invasive Formosan termite species had been establishing colonies within new areas of Houston and Galveston. During 2017, San Antonio and surrounding towns saw a whopping increase in termite infestation cases within homes and buildings. Infestation cases also exploded in other southeastern cities during 2017. That same year, San Antonio was ranked as the second most termite-infested city in the United States. And earlier this year, two Texas cities, Tyler-Longview and Dallas, made the top ten list of most termite infested cities in America. Last month entomologists and pest control professionals in Texas claimed that the southeastern portion of the state will soon see frequent and large sized termite swarms. The increase in termite swarms and infestation rates in southeast Texas is due to a few factors. First of all, Formosan subterranean termites are still spreading to new areas of Texas, mostly in the east and southeast region of the state. Climatic conditions, particularly short mild winters and frequent rainfall, are also contributing to the termite explosion within the state.

Native subterranean termites typically swarm during the late winter and early spring seasons in Texas, but a cold winter and a lack of rainfall may have postponed their seasonal swarms. Formosan subterranean termites typically swarm toward the beginning of May in Texas, and considering the growing Formosan termite population in the southeast region, cities like Houston, Galveston, Baytown and even San Antonio are likely to see frequent and massively sized Formosan termite swarms in about two weeks from now. Formosan subterranean swarms are known for being relatively sizable, as their colonies contain up to 50 million termites, which is far more than the mere 50,000 that can exist within a native termite colony.

Do you think that 2019 will see a record amount of termite infestation cases in Texas?