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Which Areas Of Texas Are Hit Hardest By Termite Infestations

Texas is home to several termite pest species that cause significant damage to timber-framed structures in every area of the state. These species include the eastern subterranean termite, the arid-land subterranean termite, the western subterranean termite, the western drywood termite, the native subterranean termite, the Formosan subterranean termite, and more. Termite control and repair costs in the US exceed 5 billion dollars annually, which makes termites the most economically significant insect pests in the country. In an effort to reduce the damage that termites inflict to structures, pinpointing termite habitats and tracking termite movements into new areas is a priority for government employed entomologists. This is especially true when it comes to the invasive Formosan termite species, which has established colonies within the entirety of the eastern half of Texas, but the Golden Triangle sees the highest rate of Formosan termite infestations. This is not to say that Formosan termite infestations are unheard of in west Texas, as these insects also infest dead trees that are sometimes removed so that the wood can be shipped to other areas of the state for commercial purposes . According to entomologists, the eastern half of Texas sees “very heavy” termite pest activity, while the eastern half is considered “heavy to moderate” in terms of termite pest activity.

While Formosan subterranean termites are most problematic in southeastern cities like Beaumont, Lumberton, Houston and Port Arthur, eastern subterranean termites are active in every region of the state. Eastern subterranean termites usually swarm during February and March in Texas, while Formosans swarm during the month of May, but swarms are often spotted in April as well. Unlike eastern subterranean termite swarmers (alates), Formosan subterranean termite swarmers are attracted to outside lights, much like moths. These swarms can become a nuisance, and if they are spotted near a structure, then a colony must be nesting nearby. If a swarm occurs within a structure, an active infestation has likely already been established. Not long ago, a massive Formosan termite swarm occurred near a business in Beaumont, causing the outside window sills and front walkway to become covered with thousands of dead alates. In other words, Formosan termite swarms are difficult to miss, as they are large in size and are apt to approach outdoor lights around dusk. Eastern subterranean alates are slightly smaller in size, and they often swarm during the daytime after a bout of rainfall. Western and arid-land subterranean termites are most abundant within the western half of Texas.

Have you ever examined a winged termite (alate) shortly after witnessing a swarm?

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How The Recent Climate In East Texas Has Led To An Explosion Of Swarming Termites In The Region

Termites start becoming active during the spring season in Texas, and it is during this time that homeowners need to start being mindful about the destructive insects and their possible presence on properties. Spring and early summer is the best time to have a home in east Texas inspected for termites, as the climate during this time of year causes swarming termites to emerge from the ground in search of new colony nesting sites. Winged termites (alates) are already beginning to swarm in large numbers in the region due to the recent increase in temperatures and the rise in humidity levels. According to experts, the subterranean termites that are most abundant in east Texas begin to swarm when temperatures reach 80 degrees and when humidity levels reach 80 percent. Therefore, it is highly likely that numerous homes in the region have already become infested with species like eastern and Formosan subterranean termites.

After finding an area of a home that has become infested with termites, it is common for the home’s owner to dismiss the notion that termites may be infesting other areas of his/her home. However, pest controllers claim that it is typical to find termites eating away at structural wood located within vastly different areas of a home. In fact, one termite colony often feeds on wood located within 35 to 40 different locations around a house. So even after a termite infestation has been spotted by a homeowner, there remains a good chance that he/she has not seen the worst of the damage being inflicted. Already this year, an unusually high number of homes in east Texas have become infested with termites. One resident, Arleen Sterling, claims her home became infested despite personally inspecting all areas of her home on a daily basis. Of course, Sterling did not waste a moment contacting a pest control operator who promptly drilled into her home’s foundation in order to inject termiticides that dissolve the destructive insects. Due to the high number of termite swarms spotted in east Texas already, residents of the area are strongly advised to have professional inspections carried out on their property.

Have you ever found a termite infestation in multiple areas of your home?

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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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Why Are Termite Infestation Cases Increasing In Southeast Texas?

Several destructive termite species exist within every region of Texas, but cities in the southeast near the Gulf Coast have been seeing a dramatic rise in termite infestations over the past few years. Last summer it was reported that the invasive Formosan termite species had been establishing colonies within new areas of Houston and Galveston. During 2017, San Antonio and surrounding towns saw a whopping increase in termite infestation cases within homes and buildings. Infestation cases also exploded in other southeastern cities during 2017. That same year, San Antonio was ranked as the second most termite-infested city in the United States. And earlier this year, two Texas cities, Tyler-Longview and Dallas, made the top ten list of most termite infested cities in America. Last month entomologists and pest control professionals in Texas claimed that the southeastern portion of the state will soon see frequent and large sized termite swarms. The increase in termite swarms and infestation rates in southeast Texas is due to a few factors. First of all, Formosan subterranean termites are still spreading to new areas of Texas, mostly in the east and southeast region of the state. Climatic conditions, particularly short mild winters and frequent rainfall, are also contributing to the termite explosion within the state.

Native subterranean termites typically swarm during the late winter and early spring seasons in Texas, but a cold winter and a lack of rainfall may have postponed their seasonal swarms. Formosan subterranean termites typically swarm toward the beginning of May in Texas, and considering the growing Formosan termite population in the southeast region, cities like Houston, Galveston, Baytown and even San Antonio are likely to see frequent and massively sized Formosan termite swarms in about two weeks from now. Formosan subterranean swarms are known for being relatively sizable, as their colonies contain up to 50 million termites, which is far more than the mere 50,000 that can exist within a native termite colony.

Do you think that 2019 will see a record amount of termite infestation cases in Texas?

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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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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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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?