Posts

02 (2)

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?

 

02 (2)

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?

02 (2)

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?

taw_logo_final (1)

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?

 

02 (2)

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

02 (2)

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?

02 (2)

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?

 

0X2A5304

How Have Formosan Subterranean Termites Traveled To Regions Well Outside Of Their Habitat Range?

If you live in the United States, especially the southeast, then there is a good chance that you have heard of the termite species commonly known as Formosan subterranean termites. These termites are unique in how tremendously damaging they are to timber-framed homes and other structures. In fact, these termites are considered by experts to be the most damaging species of termite in existence. Formosan termites are also well known to people living in other countries around the world, especially China where the termites are native. Since the southeast was hit with several hurricanes this year, there has been much talk in the media about how hurricanes seem to increase the number of homes infested with termites. It has been theorized that hurricanes and the flood waters that result literally wash termites into homes. Now that Hurricane Florence has subsided, and the resultant floodwaters are receding, cleanup crews are finding numerous structures that have become infested with Formosan subterranean termites. Not only do these findings confirm that hurricanes can, indeed, result in an increase in termite infestations, but hurricanes are causing many more types of termite-related issues that had not been considered before.

While it would seem that termites would be unable to survive hurricanes and floods, the fact is that termites can survive underwater for as long as 20 hours. Termites can drown if floodwaters persist for days, but most survive. After all, subterranean termites can survive 30 feet below the ground for long periods. Flood waters can literally carry Formosan termites to new locations where they had not existed before, and the plant debris that is abundant in flood waters provides termites with plenty of sustenance. Formosan termites that infest trees can survive on tree debris floating in floodwaters. Not only this, but after hurricanes and floods, cleanup workers collect massive amounts of wood debris from structures that are often saved and transported for second-hand use in other states. Since this wood debris is piled up, it does not take long for Formosan termites to spread to the entire pile. This is especially true when it comes to Formosans, as their colonies contain tens of millions of individual termites that reproduce rapidly. For example, several years ago, wood that had been infested with Formosans were transported to other states to be used as railroad ties. This practice led to the establishment of Formosans in Atlanta, where they had never been found before. Also, in Louisiana, where Formosans are at their most abundant, local sawmills had become infested. These sawmills produced sawdust-waste that people used for mulch. Of course, this also spread the insects beyond their habitat range. Due to the risk of transporting termite-infested wood after hurricanes and floods, experts are recommending that all wood debris collected should be heat treated before being transported to other states.

Do you think that people are not inclined to consider termite issues after hurricanes and floods given the amount of problems that they already face after floods and hurricanes?