Termites are the most destructive insect pest of wood in the Houston area. Studies continually report billions of dollars in damage to U.S. structures and create financial hardships for any homeowner not protected against them. The Houston area is reported to have approximately 16-20 colonies per acre.
Termites eating wood in a home
In nature, termites are beneficial because they break down cellulose into usable nutrients. The biomass resulting from this process is recycled to the soil as humus. Termites are considered an important part of our ecosystem. Problems occur when termites attack the wooden elements of homes, businesses and warehouses built by humans. Termites can go undetected for years if professional inspections are not performed annually. Because their activity is hidden behind wallboards, siding or wood trim a property owner may not notice the damage occurring right underneath them. Homeowners across the Houston area should contract with a professional PCO (Pest Control Operator) and follow the precautions advised by such professionals.
Signs of a Termite Infestation
TERMITE SWARM: After 2 to 4 years a subterranean termite colony may be mature enough to produce “swarmers” (winged primary reproductives). These termite “swarmers” leave the colony in large numbers during the spring and early summer months. Swarming may occur in the Houston area at any time of the year due to certain environmental conditions. The traditional season for us however is generally April through June and may be preceeded by a morning rain with light winds. The number of “swarmers” produced is proportional to the age and size of the colony. If this should occur, while it can be intimidating to a property owner we simply suggest collecting a few for our technicians to positively identify and then vacuum the rest. The action of the vacuum will likely kill them and you can dispose of the remaining “swarmers” into a trash bag.
TERMITE MUD: When termites have successfully entered a structure they begin consuming wood (cellulose) for their nurishment and that of the queen and juveniles. They will eat and tunnel through framing members, trim work, door casings, wood flooring, cabinets, carpet fibers (if natural fibers), sheetrock paper, wall paper, newspaper, books, linens and anything else you can think of with natural cellulose. When in search of additional food they know virtually no boundary.
CRACKING/CRUMBLING PAINT: This could be a sign of tunneling activity described above and should be examined by a trained professional. Termites may actually penetrate the skin of your enamel paint on trim work. Don’t take a chance thinking it’s just a bad paint job or defective wood – get it checked today!
PELLETS: Note that these are only produced by Drywood Termites! They are excrement pellets and are approximately 1/32” long, rather blount on one end and pointed on the other. The pellets will have a similar color to the wood the Drywood Termites have been consuming.