Termites are social insects, living in cooperative and cohesive colonies. In termite societies, the efforts of each member are directed toward the success of the whole. Individuals are relatively long-lived (worker termites, for example, may live about two years), colonies are self-perpetuating and have a constantly available supply of food. Moreover, termites are protected from enemies and environmental extremes by their cryptic way of life. The resiliency and destructive potential of termites also is due to their abundance. While small termite colonies may number in the thousands, large colonies can contain millions of individuals. The foraging impact of this many termites is equal to that of a large grazing animal, able to ingest almost 1.1 pound of wood each day.
As termite swarm season is upon PMPs in some areas of the country, here are some facts and tips designed to help your staff who are in the trenches. (Pun intended.)
- Fact: Termite researchers using mark-recapture techniques have shown that a single structure could be attacked by two or more different subterranean termite colonies and also by colonies of two different species.
- Tip: An inspection mirror is an important tool for detecting termites as signs of subterranean termites are often located where an inspector cannot stick his head, such as door frames in closets and the inside edges of a bath trap opening.
- Fact: Termite swarmers found swarming during the summer months in the Southeast U.S. are the light southeastern subterranean termite, Reticulitermes hageni, and are brown in color, not black. This species is occasionally found in buildings and its brown color leads to misidentifications as drywood species.
- Tip: Locating termite bait stations next to stumps, landscape timbers and sites with active termites will improve the chances of foraging into the stations.
- Fact: Subterranean termites can remain active throughout the year within heated buildings although the level of activity is generally less than is seen during warm months.
- Tip: Creating a wood template to mark the distance between drill holes and the distance from the foundation helps make drilling slabs easier and leads to a neat, professional-looking treatment.
- Fact: Metal termite shields on top of crawlspace foundation walls will not stop all invasions of subterranean termites, but shields do force termites to build shelter tubes around them, making activity easier to detect.
- Tip: Research has shown that application of termiticides under slabs using a slower flow rate of around 1 gallon/minute improves distribution of the treatment under the slab in creating a continuous treated zone.
- Fact: Colonies of Formosan subterranean termites can be very large, exceeding 1 million individuals. Those of native subterranean termites are generally much smaller, with most being less than 100,000 individuals, although giant colonies have been uncovered by researchers.
- Tip: Use of a directional tip on a termite treatment rod improves distribution of the treatment between injection points and also directs treatment toward the foundation.