How To Recognize The Four Different Types Of ‘Mud Tubes’ That Termites Frequently Construct On Properties

Several subterranean, drywood and dampwood termite species inhabit Texas, such as Formosan subterranean termites, western drywood termites and desert dampwood termites. Homes in central Texas are mainly vulnerable to the subterranean variety of termites only, namely eastern, dark southern and light southern subterranean termites. The distribution range of the tremendously destructive and invasive Formosan subterranean termite is largely limited to the southeastern portion of Texas, and they rarely infest homes in central Texas. Unlike drywood termite colonies, which dwell and feed only in above ground wood sources, subterranean termite colonies are located below the ground where workers tunnel through soil in order to retrieve damp and decaying wood to transport back to the nest. Subterranean termites can only access above ground wood sources through “mud tubes” that they construct to protect them from the desiccating effect of the dry outside air.

The most common type of mud tubes protrude from the ground and lead directly to natural and finished wood sources, allowing workers to return to the damp soil to hydrate. These mud tubes are known as “working tubes,” or “utility tubes,” and they are commonly encountered on foundations where they penetrate narrow cracks and lead to indoor structural wood. “Exploratory tubes” are built solely to make quick contact with outside objects, usually to assess whether or not an object makes a good entry point into wood, or in order to reach wood located behind other construction materials. These mud tubes are often found in crawl spaces and they are built in haste, making them structurally weak compared to working tubes. “Drop tubes” are like reverse working tubes, as they lead to the ground soil from infested wood. Drop tubes are lighter in color than working tubes because they naturally contain more wood fiber, and they are frequently found in crawl spaces and from the ceilings of heavily infested structures. “Swarming tubes” are tubes that protrude outward from ground nests, allowing reproductive alates to swarm out of a colony. These mud tubes are found in warm places, like furnaces located beneath ground floors, and only in highly infested structures.

Have you ever found any type of termite mud tube on your property?

Four Of The Five Most Economically Damaging Subterranean Termite Species In The US Can Be Found In Residential Areas Of Central Texas

Dozens of termite species have been documented in the US, but only a minority are known as being destructive to structural lumber and other finished wood items. All termite species are divided into three distinct groups known as  Subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. Species belonging to all three of these termite groups can be found in certain regions of the US, but subterranean termites are the most widespread, and therefore, the most economically damaging group of termites in the country. Five subterranean termite pest species are known as damaging pests in the US, and they account for at least 90 percent of all annual termite control costs in the US, which exceeds 3 billion dollars. Of these five species, four can be found in residential and urban areas of Waco.

Based on surveys carried out in three different counties in central Texas, colonies belonging to R. flavipes, R. virginicus, R. tibialis, R. hageni, and Coptotermes Fomanosus can be found in central Texas. These species are commonly known as eastern, dark southern, midwestern, arid land, light southern, and invasive Formosan subterranean termites, respectively. However, invasive Formosan subterranean termite colonies are very rarely spotted in the wild by field researchers in and around Waco, and the pests almost never infest homes in Mclennan County. With the exception of Formosan subterranean termites, four subterranean termite species in central Texas belong to the native Reticulitermes genus. These species cannot be discerned easily by visual inspection alone due to their morphological similarities that result from their shared evolutionary histories. However, recent genetic research studies indicate that colonies belonging to the dark and light southern termite species may be particularly abundant in central Texas, while eastern, and midwestern species are widely distributed across the state.

Have you ever noticed signs of a termite presence on your property?









Texas Homes That Are Not Protected With Termite Barriers Have A 70 Percent Chance Of Becoming Infested With Termites Within 10 To 20 Years Following Construction

Homes in central Texas are located within a geographic zone where termite pest activity is at its highest in the United States. The termite species found within this area include eastern subterranean termites, arid-land subterranean termites, western drywood termites and while the invasive Formosan subterranean termite is most abundant along the Gulf Coast, these highly destructive termite pests have been found infesting structures in central and northern Texas on occasion. However, all homes in Texas can be considered vulnerable to termite infestations if they are not protected by physical or termiticide barriers, a physical barrier can be anything from uninterrupted stone walls, or even gravel shed foundation or house foundations that are done professionally.

Termiticide barriers are applied beneath the soil surrounding a property, and they reliably prevent subterranean termites from moving into yards, and eventually, homes. Physical barriers, like wire mesh barriers, are also applied beneath the soil surrounding homes, and unlike termiticide barriers, physical barriers effectively repel termites permanently unless the land where they are located becomes disturbed or eroded. Ideally, termiticide barriers are applied beneath foundations and concrete slabs before a home’s construction begins, but many home builders skip termite barrier applications during a home’s construction. This is unfortunate for home buyers in Texas since new homes in the state that are not treated with termite barriers have a 70 percent chance of becoming infested with termites within 10 to 20 years following the home’s construction.

Termiticide barriers are far more common than physical barriers, as termiticide barriers are cheaper and less labor intensive to apply to soil. Of course, termiticide barriers are vulnerable to natural erosion, rainwater percolation, and land disturbances caused by construction. Overtime, termiticide chemicals degrade, and re-treatments are normally necessary every five years, but the state of Texas only legally allows termiticide retreatments under particular circumstances. For example, if there is no way of knowing when previous termiticide treatments were performed, then homeowners are legally allowed to have their properties re-treated. No matter when an initial treatment occurred, homeowners can legally have termiticides re-applied to their property if there exists evidence of an active termite infestation on a property. Finally, if a termiticide barrier was rendered ineffective for some reason, another treatment can be applied. It is also worth noting that termiticide barriers generally remain in tact following floods and hurricanes.

Have you ever looked into having a termiticide barrier applied to the perimeter of your property? Consider Sentricon Colony Elimination

Termite Signs: Mud Tube Formation


How Can A Termite Colony Survive After Losing Nearly All Of Its Worker And Soldier Inhabitants

Since termites are among the most ancient of insect groups, these small, but hardy insects have evolved many adaptations that have allowed them to survive even the harshest of environmental conditions. Subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites live in colonies that produce groups of swarming reproductive termites known as “alates.” Alates emerge from existing mature colonies during a specific time frame each year, but this time frame varies by species. The continued existence of termites on this planet depends on the ability of reproductive alates to find a mate and start a new colony as queen and king, but a typical termite swarm is comprised of thousands of alates, and only a few, or possibly none at all, will survive long enough to start a new colony. When a large number of alates, workers and soldiers from a mature colony die off, queens can produce an alternate class of reproductives in order to restore a colony’s strength and ensure its continued survival.

Generally, a subterranean termite colony contains workers, soldiers and the royal pair (queen and king). Workers are responsible for locating food sources, building nests, and grooming offspring. Soldiers exist to defend their colony, particularly the royal pair, from predatory attacks. The queen and king constantly reproduce in order to build a mature and self-sufficient colony. Queens lay around 1,000 eggs per day, and they release pheromones that determine whether larvae will mature into workers or soldiers. After a period of time lasting anywhere from one to ten years, depending on the species and the external conditions around a nest, a colony will mature to the point where queens must produce reproductive alates.

When a colony nest becomes damaged due to a predatory attack, an environmental event, or from construction projects, a large proportion of a colony’s inhabitants may die. When such events occur, a colony may not be able to survive, so in order to rapidly repopulate a nest with more workers and soldiers, queens release pheromones that prompt asexual workers and nymphs to develop into secondary and tertiary reproductives. These backup reproductives are capable of producing more workers and soldiers for a colony in need, but unlike reproductive alates, secondary and tertiary reproductives do not have wings, and therefore, cannot swarm. This makes sense, as backup reproductives are not produced for the purpose of establishing additional colonies as future queens and kings, but rather to provide much needed labor when the number of workers or soldiers within a colony becomes dangerously low. No matter how many termites are killed within an indoor colony, pest control professionals must always destroy the queen in order to fully eliminate an infestation.

Have you ever examined structural lumber that had been infested with termites?


Which Drywood Termite Species Is The Greatest Threat To Homeowners In Texas

Termite damage repairs and control costs in the United States exceeds five billion dollars per year, and subterranean termites are responsible for inflicting the greatest amount of property damage within the United States. The most damaging subterranean termite species in the country include eastern subterranean termites, dark southern subterranean termites, and light southern subterranean termites. The most voracious subterranean termite species in the country may be the non-native Formosan subterranean termite, which established an invasive population in southeast Texas and other areas along the Gulf Coast several decades ago. These termites consume wood at a much faster rate than native subterranean termite species, but this is due to the larger size of Formosan colonies, and not necessarily because Formosans are faster eaters. While drywood termite species cannot be found, or do not pose a significant economic threat in most areas of the US, they are tremendously destructive insect pests to structures in Texas. Multiple drywood termite species infest structures in Texas, but the western drywood termite species is by far the most damaging of all.

Unlike subterranean termites, which infest homes from the ground up, drywood termites do not make contact with the ground soil, and they dwell entirely within natural and finished wood sources. Drywood termite infestations are less common than subterranean infestations, as drywood termite colonies do not contain workers that forage away from their nests; instead, drywood termites infest homes as swarming alates. These reproductive swarmers emerge from nests each year during the spring or summer, which does not give these termites many opportunities to locate houses to infest. Indoor swarms indicate that a colony must be present within the structure, and these swarms are often the first sign of an active infestation. Since drywood termite colonies require a few years of maturation before reproductive swarming alates can be produced, indoor swarms indicate that the infestation has been active for quite some time. Swarming alates are poor flyers and many are not able to fly as far as ten feet upon emerging from a nest, but mediocre flyers can travel as far as 75 to 100 feet, and the strongest flyers can travel as far as 250 feet. If a male and female pair of reproductive alates land on a home’s roof, siding or on an indoor structural wood source, they will mate and start a new colony as queen and king.

Have you ever witnessed a termite swarm?


Drywood Termite Infestations

The annual economic cost of drywood termite infestations within structures in the US exceeds half of one billion dollars annually. This is certainly a massive dollar amount, but if the economic cost of subterranean termite damage is added to this figure, the annual cost of termite infestations in the US reaches 5 billion dollars or more annually. This is not surprising considering that the eastern subterranean termite, and other subterranean termite species in the US are more widely distributed than drywood termite species. Also, drywood termite colonies mature at a relatively slow rate, and they contain far fewer individual termites compared to subterranean termite colonies. Therefore, when considering the United States as a whole, drywood termites are relatively insignificant pests, but this is certainly not the case in the south, especially in Texas.

Both the eastern subterranean termite and the Formosan subterranean termite are the two most damaging termite species in Texas. The third most destructive termite species in the state, the southeastern drywood termite, mainly infests structures and single wood items in the southeastern portion of the state, but drywood termites can be found throughout Texas. Other drywood termite species in the state include the western drywood termite and the west Indian powderpost termite, the latter of which is a non-native species from the Caribbean that established in invasive habitat in the southern US states several decades ago.

All three of Texas’ three major drywood termite species maintain a habitat in the southeast, but they are frequently found all over the state, as these pests often infest wood items that are transported to new areas. To illustrate how easily these pests are transported to new regions within infested wood items, it should be mentioned that a 12 year old termite colony was recently found in a couch within a Minnesota home. This couch was shipped to Minnesota from the southern states where it became infested around a decade ago. When drywood termites infest an individual wood item, the infested item is placed within a chamber where it is heated to 120 degrees for at least four hours. This period of time allows high heat to penetrate deep within wood where drywood termites are active.

Have you ever witnessed a drywood termite swarm emerge within a home?


Both Drywood And Subterranean Termite Infestations Have Been Found In Several Buildings Within The Tomball Museum Center

Tomball is a small town located near Houston in southeast Texas, which is a region that sees massive amounts of termite destruction. Several termite species inhabit southeast Texas, including the devastating and invasive Formosan subterranean termite. Tomball City Council members are currently holding meetings to discuss the town’s 2019-2020 budget, and as usual, the costs treating and renovating termite-damaged public buildings are central to these discussions. The Spring Creek County Historical Association has filed a request for nearly 60,000 dollars in local government funds that are needed to maintain the many historically significant structures and museums in the County. According to representatives with the historical association, 13,000 dollars of the request funds is urgently needed to eradicate drywood termite infestations within several buildings located within the Tomball Museum Center.

Tomball is home to many historically significant structures, and several museums have become established in the town in order to present residents and tourists with documented information concerning the town’s rich history. Unfortunately, drywood termites are now eating away at several important structures in the museum center, including a barn, the Theis house, the smokehouse, a log cabin, a corn crib and the Fellowship Hall, but more infestations may be found in additional structures. In addition to the drywood termite pests, subterranean termite infestations have also been found in a few of the buildings. Given how extensive the drywood termite infestations have become in the buildings, spot treating certain infested areas within the affected structures will not fully eliminate the termites, making full-structure fumigations necessary. Treating the buildings for drywood termite infestations will cost 11,000 dollars, while the subterranean termite infestations can be eliminated with only 2,000 dollars. A few residents are not enthusiastic about saving the buildings from termite destruction, but most residents find the funds request to be reasonable considering that the town’s total budget for the next year exceeds 60 million dollars. The request will likely be granted during the next city council meeting on September 3rd.

Would you want to see museums in your hometown saved from termite destruction if it meant paying slightly higher taxes?


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?



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?