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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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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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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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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?

 

 

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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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Termites Have Nearly Destroyed A 5 Million Dollar Structure Just One Year After Its Completion

Termites species are far more diverse and abundant in South America than they are in North America. This is due to South America’s tropical environment, which is more hospitable to termites than North America’s temperate climate. Unlike North American termite species, there exists a number of mound-building termite species in South America. The mounds built by some South American species are considered by many to be awe inspiring sights, and tourists from all over the world travel to South American countries just to view these majestic mounds on location. For example, glowing termite mounds attract tourists to Emas National Park in Brazil. These mounds glow at night due to bioluminescent beetles burrowing into the sides of these mounds. Also, a town in Guyana called St Cuthbert’s Mission sees thousands of tourists visiting every year in order to appreciate the region’s picturesque flora and fauna as well as the many termite mounds. In order to increase eco-tourism in the town, local politicians had an eco-lodge constructed near the town’s Mahaica River. Unfortunately, the five million dollar eco-lodge has become infested with termites only one year after its construction ended.

The eco-lodge’s construction was facilitated by the United Nations Development Program and the former Ministry of Amerindian Affairs with the purpose of promoting wildlife and ecosystem preservation efforts. However, not one single visitor has entered the eco-lodge during its entire year of existence. Due to the termite infestation within the lodge, developers are hoping to salvage useful building materials for other construction projects. One developer is hoping that the town’s city council will allow him to remove the zinc sheets from the structure in order to use them for constructing new homes for the elderly and other needy residents. Sadly, most of the structure’s wood has become riddled with termites, which means that much of this wood will likely be used for nothing more than firewood.

Do you think that the lodge came to be infested with termites because construction developers skipped the application of preventative termiticides within the soil around the structures?

 

 

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How Does A Queen Termite Instruct Her Workers During The Construction Of Her Royal Chamber?

Scientists have long been researching the nest-building behavior of termites in order to better understand how queen termites communicate with worker termites. Many termite species have worker termites constructing a royal chamber for the queen and king as the first stage of nest construction. Worker termites, of course, do not refer to any sort of blueprint for constructing nests; instead, the queen directs workers on how to construct the nest by emitting a “building-pheromone.” In addition to the building-pheromone, termite workers emit what are called “trail-pheromones” while foraging in order to provide additional workers with a scent trail that leads to a food source.Surprisingly, researchers have found that trail-pheromones are also essential for coordinating the nest-building behavior performed by worker termites.

It had been traditionally assumed that the building-pheromone was the only type of pheromone necessary for facilitating nest construction. However, A study conducted by British researchers revealed that trail-pheromones allow worker termites to construct architecturally challenging pillars within the royal chamber. During construction, worker termites were found to emit trail-pheromones along the path from the queen and her chamber to the soil source where the building materials are retrieved. Researchers showed that when worker termites are deprived of their ability to emit trail-pheromones during construction,they fail to complete the pillar formations.

Before worker termites construct the royal chamber around the queen,the queen emits building-pheromones in liquid form. A small amount of workers then proceed to rub this liquid pheromone on the queen’s abdomen for the purpose of grooming her. When the pheromone diffuses away from the queen’s body, worker termites sense the pheromone, which triggers their building behavior. The diffusion of the building-pheromone also creates a one to two inch zone where termites walk between a source of soil for building and the queen. As it happens, the soil source also contains what are called “cement pheromones.” These pheromones attract workers to the soil source before prompting them to deposit a soil pellet onto the royal chamber during its construction, similar to a brick being added to the wall of an unfinished house. This cycle repeats until the royal chamber’s construction is complete.While researchers now know that at least three different types of pheromones are involved in the construction of the royal chamber, pheromone messaging systems in termite colonies remain poorly understood by researchers.

Do you think that the queen is responsible for emitting the cement pheromones that attract termites to the soil used for constructing the royal chamber?