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What attracts termites and prevention tips provided by iPest Solutions

What attracts termites and prevention tips provided by iPest Solutions

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,” said John Fell,  CEO at iPest Solutions “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,” added Fell.  “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

Are The Desert Termites Of Texas Considered Pests?

More than a dozen termite species dwell within the arid and semi-arid southwest US region. These termites are mostly subterranean species, but a few drywood species have also established a habitat within the region. Termites are the most well known of the few insect groups that consume wood. Considering that termites inflict billions of dollars in damage annually within the US alone, it should not be lost on anyone that termites are destructive to timber-framed homes and some species inflict damage to tree species as well. The high cost of termite damage certainly does not make termites endearing creatures, but if there is one termite species dwelling within America that is worth being spared the hate that so many people feel toward termites, then it would definitely be the  Gnathamitermes tubiformans, or the desert termite, as they are more commonly known. Although these termites dwell within Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, they are particularly abundant within the expansive grassy savanna region of western Texas.

Unlike most termite species within the US, desert termites are not structural pests. In fact, desert termites don’t even consume wood, if that can be conceived; instead, desert termites consume both living and dried forms of vegetation, mostly grass and legumes. Desert termites are notable for consuming massive amounts of grass, far more than livestock consume within the state. Amazingly, during this species’ most active period from May through September in Texas, up to six percent of shortgrass grazeland can become covered in carton tubes created by these termites. These carton tubes become particularly abundant during dry seasons and on areas of overgrazed land. Although desert termites are certainly not structural pests, they can reduce the amount of food available to livestock. Desert termites can also be a nuisance to homeowners in residential and rural areas of Texas, as their seasonal swarms can become overwhelming and can occur within homes. For example, residents of Lubbock were forced to endure long periods of heavy desert termite swarming activity during the summer of 2017.

Do you know of any other termite species that is considered harmless to structures in the US?

 

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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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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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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?

 

 

Wcao Texas Termite Control

A Historically Significant And Rare Antique Pump Organ Was Barely Saved From Voracious Termites

A Historically Significant And Rare Antique Pump Organ Was Barely Saved From Voracious TermitesWaco Termite Control

Although church attendance has been declining during recent decades, most people still cannot help but to associate organ music with the church-going experience. Christian churches have long made use of organ music during group choirs and at the beginning and end of church services. When the modern pipe organ was in its infancy, the music was enjoyed as a secular form of entertainment, but the large instruments eventually came to be associated with the Catholic Church. However, pipe organs can now be found within many Christian churches. As you may already know, pipe organs are the largest musical instruments, so they are not always ideal for use in small chapels. Luckily for organ-lovers, a smaller and much cheaper version of the pipe organ was developed and sold within the United States and Europe during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These organs produced sound through reeds, as opposed to pipes. These organs are known as pump organs, or reed organs, and they were common in people’s homes and small churches during the last two centuries. However, the invention of the electronic organ during the 1930s resulted in the eventual discontinuation of pump organ manufacturing. Today pump organs are rare, and most of them that still exist have been restored by antique collectors. Not surprisingly, pump organs are considered valuable relics of the past that can sell for significant amounts of money. Sadly, one of the world’s most well-known pump organs sustained serious termite damages while being displayed in an old chapel located in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Back in 1984, an Etsy-brand pump organ that was built in 1890 had been donated to the newly built Mission Chapel that was, and still is, located on the premises of the Polynesian Cultural Center in Honolulu. Although the pump organ was well cared for after it was donated, years of humidity and pests had rendered the instrument unplayable, and structurally compromised. The most recent, and only successful attempt at restoring the pump organ involved a piece-by-piece disassembly, and many portions of replacement wood. The restoration effort lasted for an entire year, and termite damage beneath the organ’s keys nearly made the instrument a total loss. Each of the sixty one keys had to be replaced as they were all damaged by termites. After many prayers, the restoration attempt proved to be a success, and the refurbished pump organ can now be heard in all of its glory by tourists visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Do you think that the conditions within the wooden pump organ provided the invading termites with all of the sustenance and nourishment that they needed to survive?

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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?