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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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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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How Structural Defects In A Texas Municipal Building Made Of Stone Resulted In An Infestation Of Termites

With the exception of Alaska, termites can be found in all 50 US states. But homes and buildings located in the south are particularly vulnerable to termite attacks, as the south is home to the greatest number of termite pest species. Due to the relatively significant threat that termites pose to homes and buildings in the south, several state laws and building codes have been enacted in the region that require building contractors to install anti-termite features to homes and buildings during construction. For example, chemical or physical termite barriers surrounding structures must be installed during construction, and structures must be built in such as way as to minimize moisture retention. Perhaps some building codes of this sort were ignored during the 2002 construction of The Brazos River Authority headquarters in Waco, Texas, as moisture buildup within the building has been attracting termites.

The cost of building the 40,000 square foot structure amounted to 5.5 million dollars 17 years ago. Since then, water leaks, ventilation issues and moisture retention in the building’s stone exterior has contributed to mold buildup and termite infestations. It is well known that subterranean termite colonies require massive amounts of water in order to survive, which makes structures with leaky pipes and poor ventilation an ideal habitat for the wood-devouring pests. It is also unfortunate that termites are attracted to the mold that forms as a result of moisture buildup. According to several studies, termites find moldy wood to be more appetizing than non-moldy wood. Termite consumption has been shown to increase by 120 percent once mold forms on wood, and aggregation behavior increases by 81 percent. This is not surprising considering that the presence of moldy wood increases termite trail-following behavior by a whopping 200 percent. In fact, feeding on moldy wood even increases the survivability of termites by 136 percent.

The building’s exterior is made of Austin stone, which may be aesthetically pleasing, but the porous texture of the stone has allowed for a significant degree of moisture buildup. As a result, moisture has become trapped behind the stone and has saturated the vinyl wallpaper inside, which attracted termites. The termites ate away at the paper facing the gypsum sheathing, thereby decreasing its strength. The ventilation problems within the building only contributed to this moisture buildup. City leaders are now debating on whether to demolish the building or devote additional funds to its restoration. Government officials in the city are considering a lawsuit against the construction firm that built the structure due to their alleged violation of building codes that ultimately led to the termite infestation.

Were you aware that termites sometimes infest buildings that are made largely of non-wood materials?

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3 Ways Homeowners Are Inviting Termites Into Their Homes

This year, iPest Solutions and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) are working to spread public awareness about termites during Termite Awareness Week, March 10-16, 2019. With spring just around the corner, termites will begin swarming and could seek out your home for their new nesting space. To help you prevent a termite infestation,  iPest Solutions  is educating homeowners on three things they could be doing to attract termites.

The damage caused by termites typically goes unnoticed by homeowners until it has advanced too far, as most of their work happens behind the scenes and out of sight from the human eye. In fact, the NPMA estimates that termites cause $5 billion in damage every year. While termites can be difficult to control, homeowners could also be unaware of a few things they could be doing to attract these wood-destroying pests.

According to NPMA, here are three unexpected ways that homeowners can actually make their homes more appealing to termites:

  1. Storing firewood too close to property: Many homeowners keep firewood stacked against their home or on the stoop for easy access. This is appealing to termites and can draw them toward a home and provide a point of entry. Instead, store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and five inches off the ground. Also, be careful of leaving stumps and dead trees in the yard. Rotting wood material can serve as termite fuel and eventually result in termites entering the home.
  2. Clogged gutters: Cleaning the gutters is a necessary part of termite prevention. Termites love moisture and clogged gutters can cause water to pool and make insulation vulnerable to these wood-destroying pests.
  3. Mulch: Mulch is frequently used near the home and against the foundation and can serve as a source of food for termites. It also retains moisture, which attracts these destructive pests. Minimize the usage of wood mulch and keep it at least 15 inches from the foundation.

If you suspect you have a termite infestation, it is best to contact a licensed pest control expert as soon as possible to catch the damage before it gets worse. We recommend homeowners also have a termite inspection done every year.

For more information on termites, or to contact a licensed pest control expert, please visit www.wacopest.com

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Why This US State Is Home To Only The Worst Termite Pests

While the United States may contain a relatively small amount of termite species, it cannot be said that the US is free of the most destructive termite species. It is generally agreed that the most destructive termite species in existence is the Formosan subterranean termite, as these termites live within the most populous colonies and are able to thrive within subtropical to temperate environments. The Asian subterranean termite is similar to the Formosan variety when it comes to destructive habits, which is why many experts make mention of this species when discussing termite destruction. But unlike the Formosan species, Asian subterranean termites are more limited to tropical environments, making their progression north of Florida’s southern region unlikely. When it comes to drywood termite species, the west Indian drywood termite may be the most destructive of all, and unfortunately for residents of Hawaii, all three of the above named species have been causing destruction to homes and buildings within the state for over a century.

Before the 1990s, termites were already costing residents of Hawaii 100 million dollars per year in control costs and damage repairs. Unlike all other US states, the state of Hawaii is subject to a year round tropical climate and constant hurricane and oceanic storm threats, making the region ideal for the rapid spread and proliferation of just about any species of termite. It is for this reason that Hawaii is unofficially considered to be the invasive insect capital of the world. At the moment, only eight termite species have been documented as existing within Hawaii, seven of which are invasive. The one native Hawaiian termite, Neotermes connexus is an arboreal forest termite, and is not generally recognized as being a pest to structures.

The Formosan subterranean termite was first documented as existing in Hawaii back in 1913, but it had likely existed in the state decades before the turn of the century. The Asian subterranean termite was first discovered in the state in 1963, and it is currently considered the third most destructive termite species in the state. The west Indian drywood termite was documented in the state back in 1883, and this species is recognized as the second most economically costly termite pest species in Hawaii. The state is also home to invasive termite species that originated from North America’s west coast. One of these species, Zootermopsis angusticollis, which can be found in mountainous regions of Maui, is considered a significant structural pest. Due to year round termite-swarming, densely grouped homes and buildings, and many other factors, the risk of termite infestations and the damage they cause is well known to all of Hawaii’s residents, and the state is considered a world leader in developing next generation homes that are designed to repel and withstand termite attacks.

Do you find it surprising to learn that Hawaii contains only one single native termite species?

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The National Park Service Is Using Mahogany As A Termite Resistant Lumber For The Restoration Of A Historical Structure

There exists several antiquated structures in the United States that are universally recognized by people all over the world as being historically notable. Such structures include the White House, the Alamo, and of course, John Wayne’s birth home in Winterset, Iowa. Well, maybe the last one is only notable to fans of western movies, but in any case, there exists around 80,000 properties listed as National Historic Landmarks in the United States and its territories. Obviously, the vast majority of these landmarks are not generally well known. But even the most obscure historic structures can mean a lot to residents who live in the towns where they are located. For example, the unincorporated territory of the US Virgin Islands is home to a structure known as the Old Scale House. This house is over 160 years old and is located within the town of Christiansted in St. Croix. This house has long been considered the pride of the town by residents in the area, but unfortunately, the house has come under serious attack from drywood termites.

In order to renovate the house to make it termite-proof, the US National Park Service is having termite damaged wood replaced with naturally termite-resistant mahogany wood. According to the expert renovators working on the project, this wood will allow the house to withstand termite attacks and other forms of damage for at least 100 years. The Scale House was built in 1856, and residents of Christiansted are eager for Gary Zbel and his team with the National Park Service Historic Preservation Training Center (HPTC) to begin renovations on the structure. Zbel is specially trained by the US Government to restore old structures to their original glory, and he has already renovated more than a dozen other historical structures, including parts of the White House.

The first step in the renovation process will entail the replacement of drywood termite damage to the house’s second floor. Zbel is using mahogany wood shipped from South America in order to replace parts of the house’s roof, beams and paneling. Mahogany is being chosen due to its immunity to termite attacks and mold. The last renovation during the 1970s saw builders using cheap wood that is vulnerable to termite attack, but the mahogany, according to Zbel, will allow the house to stand for, at least, another century. The cost of the house’s restoration is happily being paid for by the town’s taxpayers.

Have you ever been the first person to notice termite damage to a home or building?

 

 

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Which Termites Are The Most Successful Invaders Of Foreign Regions?

In the United States, the eastern subterranean termite is responsible for the greatest amount of termite destruction to manmade structures. On its own, this termite species may not be as destructive as some invasive species that exist in the US, but the eastern subterranean termite has the widest habitat distribution, making virtually every region of the US vulnerable to their attacks. Invasive termite species in the US, like Formosan and Asian subterranean termites, live within colonies that contain millions of individual termites, far more than the 50,000 or less that exist within eastern subterranean termite colonies. Luckily, invasive species are limited to the southeastern states, making them responsible for a relatively small proportion of total termite destruction in the US. For example, the Asian subterranean termite is regarded as the most destructive termite species in the world along with the Formosan species, but this species has not advanced beyond southern Florida. However, this is not the case in many other countries, particularly tropical countries, where invasive termites cause far more destruction than native species. This is why the most destructive termite species to manmade structures are usually the very same species that are the most adaptable to non-native regions. So which group of termites is most likely to establish an invasive presence in non-native regions?

So far researchers have documented around three thousand termite species, and of all these species, only 104 are considered significant pests. Twenty three of these pests belong to the Coptotermes (Rhinotermitidae) genus, which includes the two most destructive termite species in the world, Formosan and Asian subterranean termites. Traditionally, experts have considered termites belonging to the Coptotermes species to be the most likely of all termite species to establish an invasive presence in non-native countries. But this claim is currently being challenged by many termite researchers who believe that only Formosan and Asian subterranean termites have the adaptive ability to establish invasive populations all over the world. When invasive termites are discovered and described by experts in other countries, they are sometimes described as new Coptotermes species when they are really either Formosan or Asian subterranean species. Also, Formosan and Asian subterranean termites are referred to by many names in a variety of countries, and not all these names are known to termite researchers. For example, several recently discovered invasive species in India and Madagascar may all be Asian subterranean termites, but these termites are believed to be separate Coptotermes species solely because they are known by different names in different regions. Therefore, the claim that most termite species belonging to the Coptotermes genus are inherently well adapted to foreign territories may be false, but this has yet to be fully substantiated.

Do you live in a region of the US where invasive termites exist?

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How Termites Use Clay To Prevent Infested Structures From Collapsing

While it is obvious to most people that termites consume wood, many people are not aware of the fact that termites consume wood in order to retain cellulose, which is the main constituent of plant cell walls. Termites are lucky in that cellulose is one of the most abundant organic compounds on the planet, so the insects do not have to travel far to attain their essential nutrients. Most termite species, including all species native to the United States, find their cellulose within sources of wood, such as dead rotting logs, wood debris, dead trees and most notably, structural lumber. In some cases, termite colonies will feast on sources of wood that bear significant loads of weight, such as at the base of a tree or structural lumber. In other cases, termites infest light pieces of wood that bear very little weight, such as mulch, twigs, logs and tree stumps.

As termites dig tunnels within wood and consume the excavated particles, infested wood can become completely hollow or partially hollow. As you can imagine, this is problematic for termites that feed on load-bearing wood since hollowing out the wood located at the base of a structure will, obviously, weaken the structure, making the eventual collapse of an infested tree or house inevitable. While nobody wants their house to collapse or partially collapse due to a termite infestation within the base of their home’s timber frame, termites also want to avoid this outcome, as such a collapse would crush an entire colony to death. Researchers now believe that termites may be able to perceive the difference between load-bearing and unloaded wood sources in order to avoid the dangers of colonizing sources of wood that could collapse over them.

Both entomologists and pest control professionals have long been aware of the fact that termites use clay sourced from soil to coat the tunnels that they build within wood. However, the reason for this interesting use of clay is only now becoming clear to researchers. According to a study published a few years ago, termites only apply clay to tunnels built within load-bearing wood sources so as to prevent collapse by providing structural support once the clay hardens. By coating hollowed tunnels with clay, termites compensate for the initial structural weakness that results from excavating wood at the base of a load-bearing structure. In other words, termites work to maintain the structural integrity of the load-bearing wood sources that they infest. Apparently, in addition to consuming structural sources of wood, termites also work to keep them standing.

Have you ever seen a plaster cast of a termite nest located within wood at an entomology museum or anywhere else?

 

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Termites Have Nearly Destroyed A 5 Million Dollar Structure Just One Year After Its Completion

Termites species are far more diverse and abundant in South America than they are in North America. This is due to South America’s tropical environment, which is more hospitable to termites than North America’s temperate climate. Unlike North American termite species, there exists a number of mound-building termite species in South America. The mounds built by some South American species are considered by many to be awe inspiring sights, and tourists from all over the world travel to South American countries just to view these majestic mounds on location. For example, glowing termite mounds attract tourists to Emas National Park in Brazil. These mounds glow at night due to bioluminescent beetles burrowing into the sides of these mounds. Also, a town in Guyana called St Cuthbert’s Mission sees thousands of tourists visiting every year in order to appreciate the region’s picturesque flora and fauna as well as the many termite mounds. In order to increase eco-tourism in the town, local politicians had an eco-lodge constructed near the town’s Mahaica River. Unfortunately, the five million dollar eco-lodge has become infested with termites only one year after its construction ended.

The eco-lodge’s construction was facilitated by the United Nations Development Program and the former Ministry of Amerindian Affairs with the purpose of promoting wildlife and ecosystem preservation efforts. However, not one single visitor has entered the eco-lodge during its entire year of existence. Due to the termite infestation within the lodge, developers are hoping to salvage useful building materials for other construction projects. One developer is hoping that the town’s city council will allow him to remove the zinc sheets from the structure in order to use them for constructing new homes for the elderly and other needy residents. Sadly, most of the structure’s wood has become riddled with termites, which means that much of this wood will likely be used for nothing more than firewood.

Do you think that the lodge came to be infested with termites because construction developers skipped the application of preventative termiticides within the soil around the structures?

 

 

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How Does A Queen Termite Instruct Her Workers During The Construction Of Her Royal Chamber?

Scientists have long been researching the nest-building behavior of termites in order to better understand how queen termites communicate with worker termites. Many termite species have worker termites constructing a royal chamber for the queen and king as the first stage of nest construction. Worker termites, of course, do not refer to any sort of blueprint for constructing nests; instead, the queen directs workers on how to construct the nest by emitting a “building-pheromone.” In addition to the building-pheromone, termite workers emit what are called “trail-pheromones” while foraging in order to provide additional workers with a scent trail that leads to a food source.Surprisingly, researchers have found that trail-pheromones are also essential for coordinating the nest-building behavior performed by worker termites.

It had been traditionally assumed that the building-pheromone was the only type of pheromone necessary for facilitating nest construction. However, A study conducted by British researchers revealed that trail-pheromones allow worker termites to construct architecturally challenging pillars within the royal chamber. During construction, worker termites were found to emit trail-pheromones along the path from the queen and her chamber to the soil source where the building materials are retrieved. Researchers showed that when worker termites are deprived of their ability to emit trail-pheromones during construction,they fail to complete the pillar formations.

Before worker termites construct the royal chamber around the queen,the queen emits building-pheromones in liquid form. A small amount of workers then proceed to rub this liquid pheromone on the queen’s abdomen for the purpose of grooming her. When the pheromone diffuses away from the queen’s body, worker termites sense the pheromone, which triggers their building behavior. The diffusion of the building-pheromone also creates a one to two inch zone where termites walk between a source of soil for building and the queen. As it happens, the soil source also contains what are called “cement pheromones.” These pheromones attract workers to the soil source before prompting them to deposit a soil pellet onto the royal chamber during its construction, similar to a brick being added to the wall of an unfinished house. This cycle repeats until the royal chamber’s construction is complete.While researchers now know that at least three different types of pheromones are involved in the construction of the royal chamber, pheromone messaging systems in termite colonies remain poorly understood by researchers.

Do you think that the queen is responsible for emitting the cement pheromones that attract termites to the soil used for constructing the royal chamber?