It was a routine inspection for Jason Berry Sr., sales representative at Dodson Pest Control in Norfolk, Va. A new customer had called for a termite and moisture inspection. The house was small, so it didn’t take Berry much time to notice the crawlspace located underneath the middle section of the house. As he ducked into the shallow, unfinished space, Berry came face to face with the largest crawlspace active termite infestation he had ever seen.
MUD TUBE. The crawlspace was overrun with eastern subterranean termites. Based on the infestation, which was spurred on by improper ventilation, Berry estimates that this colony of termites had been active for three to five years.
“At first sight, I thought that maybe someone had added sand to the crawlspace and while spreading it out may have shoveled sand onto the pier,” said Berry. “But upon further inspection, to my surprise it was a fully active termite tunnel reaching from the ground up to the main support beam of the house.”
Berry added that stalactite tunnels hung down from sills and joists in the same area. The entire crawlspace featured extensive wood damage.
The crawlspace had essentially become a giant mud tube for termites. Located underneath the middle of the house and attached to a pier leading up to a large sill beam, the damage in the tunnel had begun affecting the home’s foundation. “I can say I have seen this once before many years ago, but the tunnel was not as active as this one was.”
‘THE SCRAPER.’ Due to the size and extensive damage of the crawlspace, Berry nicknamed the mud tube “The Scraper.”
“’The Scraper’ was the first name I associated with the tunnel because its height and thickness and position against the pier seemed like what you might see in a large downtown area of a city,” said Berry.
He added that the names “Termi-Dome,” “Termite Towers” and “Hog Leg” — a Virginia saying, according to Berry — were also contenders. None, however, stuck quite like “The Scraper.”
The size of “The Scraper” also made treatment easier, Berry said. He applied a non-repellent liquid treatment by trenching and rodding the interior and exterior foundation walls, and every pier in the crawlspace area.
“Throughout my 20 years in the pest control industry, I have seen many interesting things in and out of crawlspaces,” Berry said. “But one of the most awe-striking things I’ve seen is the sheer determination and innovation termites will go to to forage and grow their colonies. If left unencumbered, termites will stop at nothing short of destroying your home down to the foundation.”
As of yet, Berry said home of “The Scraper” has not seen any recurring termite problems. — Kierra Sondereker, PCT writer