Never Too Early To Think About Termites

Never Too Early To Think About Termites

There is something refreshing about seeing signs that spring is almost here. Things like more daylight, spring ads on television or in the newspapers and warmer weather apparel making its way into stores, are all hopeful signs of the soon coming season. Immediately your mind goes to yard care, t-shirts, and a glass of iced tea. No matter what kind of a winter we have had, it is safe to say that a lot of us are usually happy to see the end of it for another year. Spring is also a good reminder that with the temperature rising so will the influx of pests. Termites are one such pest that you can be sure will be on the move this spring.

Spring is the time of the year when a termite nest has reached its limit in size and capacity. Swarms of these pests are often spotted making their way through fields and woods, and frequently neighborhoods. Often, we do not really know what we are looking at and will dismiss it from our minds as soon as we are out of sight of it. Unfortunately, these termites might just be looking for a way into your home. If they do get in, these swarmers will quickly establish a nest and get to work on building their population and eating everything in sight all without the homeowner ever knowing they are there.

The termite has a voracious appetite for anything that contains cellulose. Cellulose is found in many things in nature, including building materials that may have been used in your home, like wood. Their extraordinarily strong jaws tirelessly work their way through wood, drywall, paste, glue, and many other materials that can do thousands of dollars in damage to a building undetected until it is visible in the frequented parts of the home.

There is good news though. Homeowners can save thousands in repairs and treatment for termite infestations by working with a reputable pest control company, like Russell’s Pest Control, to prevent termites from entering in the first place. If your home already has termites, we can work with you to eliminate the current threat and set measures in place to prevent future termite damage. Russell’s Pest Control has worked with hundreds of home owners over the years, keeping their most valuable asset termite-free. Imagine the relief knowing that your home is guaranteed to be safe from termites all year-long. That peace of mind is well worth it. Call today to learn more about our quality termite services!

A Lesson In Termite Identification And Biology

In one of our last articles, we put out a warning because termite swarms are happening all over East Tennessee. If you have already seen a swarm at your home or found the cast off wings that indicate you missed a swarm nearby, you should contact an exterminator (like Russell’s Pest Control) for an inspection immediately. After all, termite colonies typically only produce swarms after they have already been breeding and feeding for about three years. If you’re seeing them above ground, they’ve already got the jump on you.

This time, however, I thought it might be important to cover the basics of termite biology so that you can recognize and understand these little critters if you encounter them. Termite identification is important so that you can be sure you know which enemy you’re facing and can act accordingly. First off, you should know that, unlike other wood-destroying insects, termites actually use their powerful jaws to eat the wood that they encounter instead of just tunneling through it. They are able to do so because tiny, single-celled creatures in their stomachs convert the wood particles from cellulose (which is indigestible) to starch. The term “starch” should ring a bell for you; we eat that, too, in foods like bread and pasta. Termites then convert that starch into their functional energy source: sugar. Combine this with the realization that termites work without sleeping, and they start to sound fairly alarming. They’re working 24 hours a day to sustain a life-long sugar high. Yikes!

So, how will you know them if you see them? Please refer to the photo below while we cover the basics of a termite’s appearance by comparing it to a very familiar spring-time bug: the ant. As you can see, termites are somewhat similar to ants, and swarming ants and termites are often mistaken for each other. The key differences between ants and termites are highlighted below.

  • Waist Size: The tiny, pinched waist of the ant gives it a slightly waspish appearance; termites, however, are almost the same width all the way down their bodies. This shape and the dirty whitish color of the workers give them an almost grub-like appearance.
  • Antennae Shape: Ants have long, thin antennae that bend like an elbow joint after leaving their heads. Termites have shorter antennae that do not bend at all.
  • Wing Shape: This factor is particularly crucial for identification during swarm season since swarming termites are darker in color than the workers and are more likely to have an ant-like look about them. Ants have two pairs of wings of different shapes, and the front pair is noticeably larger than the back pair. Termites also have two pairs of wings, but all four wings are the same shape and size.

If you encounter insects like these around your home, you can use these features and this picture to try your hand at termite identification. Of course, you can call Russell’s Pest Control at 865.584.8549 for a free termite inspection if you want an expert’s opinion on the subject.

Just in case you suspect a termite problem and are worried about the cost of a treatment, we’ve got good news for you. If you call and mention this blog post, you can receive $100 off the installation of an Always Active Sentricon® Termite Colony Elimination System.* In our opinion, this is the best termite treatment available, and we stand by it with our 100% damage repair guarantee. If termites get past our defenses while your home is protected by this system, we’ll handle 100% of the needed repairs. Naturally, this discount can’t be combined with any other coupons or offers. Give us a call or contact us online if you want more details.

*Trademark Dow AgroSciences

Termite Swarms In Tennessee

Even though it’s only March, reports are already coming in: Termite swarms are occurring in East Tennessee. Swarm season started early this year because of the recent mild weather, so we decided to do a series of articles about termites so that residents in the area can be on their guard. Understanding termites is crucial for people living in the South where these little invaders do millions of dollars of damage a year. So, let’s take some time to study the enemy. In this post, we’ll discuss termite swarms and how they affect homeowners. Next time, we’ll cover practical ways to prevent and eliminate termites.

Normally, termites do not have wings (check out the photo from the pest experts at Univar). They are tiny, pail insects that almost look like grubs with legs. However, when the warm weather arrives, termites begin to focus on expanding their colony and growing their numbers. Colony members spend most of their lives underground (hence the name “subterranean termites”). But, when it’s time to expand, certain termites will develop wings. Termites with wings are capable of reproduction (which is usually left to queen). When the temperature and humidity are right, the winged termites will burst out of colony above ground. They are scattering themselves so that they can start new colonies with the original winged termite as the new queen. Since they are poor flyers, they leave the nest in a crowd so that even if predators take down many of the colony-builders, some are likely to survive.

Knowing about termite swarms is important for homeowners for a couple of reasons. The presence of the swarm indicates that new neighbors are trying to move in, and they’re going to need food fast. A swarm near a building indicates that the new colony will be foraging in that area. Many features of the home will be appealing for the buffet line, including support beams behind the walls, hardwood floors in the den, and cabinets in the kitchen. In addition, the presence of a swarm also indicates that a large, healthy colony is already nearby. Most of the members of an existing colony will not grow wings and scatter, which means that if you see hundreds or even thousands of swarming termites, there are many more underground throwing the goodbye party. A swarm near a building could indicate that termites are already feeding on the structure and causing damage.

A termite swarm will only last for a few minutes, which means you could easily miss the big event around your home. Be on the lookout for small groups of wings lying on your porch or around your foundation. The termites shed their wings after flying, and the lost wings are often a good indicator to homeowners that trouble is nearby. If you see a swarm, try to keep a couple of the dead bugs in a bag or jar for identification. We suggest that you call an exterminator immediately for a full inspection. Most companies, including Russell’s Pest Control, will inspect for free, allowing you to rely on an expert to identify whether your home is in danger. More information about termites can be found here, and you can call to request an appointment or just click here. If you want to see what a swarm looks like, check out this video on our Facebook page of some swarmers that we encountered last year.