|Destructive Termites in Texas|
|Identification of the main destructive species|
|It is critical to identify the species of destructive termites to formulate
an appropriate control program. There are five main species of destructive
termites in Texas.
CONTENTS: learn about these destructive species of termites - tips on identification of the timber damage caused - find out when these termites swarm in your local area and how to identify the swarmers, workers and soldiers - learn of their fascinating biology, life-cycle and behavioural aspects - and receive professional tips on how best protect your home from the world's best timber recycler .... subterranean termites.
|Eastern subterranean termites|
AREAS OF HIGH RISK IN TEXAS include Abilene, Allen, Alpine, Alvin, Amarillo, Arlington-TX, Austin-TX, Baytown, Beaumont, Bedford-TX, Benbrook, Big Spring, Brownsville-TX, Bryan, Burleson, Carrollton-TX, Cedar Hill, Cedar Park, Cleburne, College Station, Colleyville, Conroe, Coppell, Copperas Cove, Corpus Christi, Corsicana, Dallas-TX, Deer Park, Del Rio, Denison, Denton, DeSoto, Duncanville, Eagle Pass, Edinburg, El Paso, Euless, Farmers Branch, Floresville-TX, Flower Mound Town, Fort Stockton, Fort Worth, Friendswood, Frisco, Galveston, Garland, Georgetown-TX, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Greenville-TX, Haltom, Harlingen, Houston, Huntsville-TX, Hurst, Irving, Keller, Kerrville, Killeen, Kingsville, Lake Jackson, Lancaster-TX, La Porte-TX, Laredo, League, Lewisville, Longview-TX, Lubbock, Lufkin, Mansfield-TX, Marshall-TX, McAllen, McKinney, Mesquite-TX, Midland-TX, Mission, Missouri, Nacogdoches, New Braunfels, North Richland Hills, Odessa, Paris, Pasadena-TX, Pearland, Pflugerville, Pharr, Plainview, Plano, Port Arthur, Richardson, Rockwall, Rosenberg, Round Rock, Rowlett, San Angelo, San Antonio, San Benito, San Juan, San Marcos-TX, Schertz, Seguin, Sherman, Socorro, Southlake, Sugar Land, Temple, Texarkana-TX, Texas City, The Colony, Tyler, University Park, Van Horne, Victoria, Waco, Watauga, Waxahachie, Weatherford, Weslaco and Wichita Falls.
Identification of Swarmers and Soldiers: Swarming generally occurs during the spring but occasionally a few smaller swarms may occur during the summer. Swarming most often occurs during the morning following a warm rain shower whereby the soil temperature is around 70°F.
|Identification of Timber Damage|
As`a result, infested timbers are often left as a thin shell with a honey-comb of layered hollow sections (as illustrated) packed with moist soil. These termites love a moist dark damp environment - it is essential for their survival - discussed in detail under Biology of Subterranean Termites - later on.
|Destructive nature of Eastern subterranean termites|
|The Eastern subterranean termite is a serious economic timber pest causing millions of dollars of damage throughout the areas where it is located. It is estimated that more than 1 in 5 homes in the high activity areas, been or will be attacked at sometime by these voracious little insects.|
|The life-cycle of subterranean termites|
|Biology of eastern subterranean termites|
As noted above, termites constantly groom and feed each other. A valuable technique for the termite controller is to instal and monitor a termite baiting system next to any live activity found in and around the premises where termite foraging is most likely to occur. Subsequent inspections (preferably monthly) may reveal dead or sick worker termites, they change colour to a mottle look, and spread of the termite bait to other termites leading to elimination of the colony.
The termite baits are designed to be non-repellant to the termites and has a unique delayed effect. Time enough to be passed onto the other termites in the colony including the queen, with a sufficient dosage leading to the elimination of the entire colony. This process is explained in detail in the Termite Control section of this website.
|If You find these termites do NOT disturb them|
Eastern subterranean termites have acute survival instincts. If they are
shaken up or disturbed, the termites often will abandon the associated area
and move on to secretly cause damage in other areas in the building. If
you find eastern subterranean termites in or around your property, it is
essential that you do NOT disturb them and promptly arrange for a professional
inspection and application of a termite bait to the live termites, if present
|Arid-land subterranean termites|
Identification of Swarmers and Soldiers: In locations below 4,000 feet the Arid-land termite swarms between January and March. Above 4,000 feet, they usually swarm in June and July. The swarmers are about 1/3” long with wings, and 1/5” long without wings. Their wings are almost whitish, with brown veins in the fore area. Swarmers are dark brown to black in color. The soldiers are 1/4” long, with jaws that are nearly straight. They resemble the jaws of the desert termite but are slightly thicker.
Biology and Habits: The Arid-land subterranean termite has been found living in sand dunes, as well as at altitudes above 7,000 feet in the Rocky Mountain states. It is also found in moist river low lands and along streams and canyons, but essentially it is a desert or prairie species. Arid-land subterranean termites naturally occur in deserts where they attack creosote and greasewood bushes as well as buildings and other timber structures.
|Formosan subterranean termites|
Economic Significance: Formosan termites are the most aggressive and destructive timber pests in the United States. It is an imported species, native to China.
It can develop huge nests containing millions of termites aggressively and relentlessly seeking and devouring structural timbers, utility poles and other timber structures, including ships and barges. Infestation can occur to living trees, such as oak, cypress, pine and maple.
They often cause power failures by chewing through electrical cabling. A termite to be feared - it is known to cause major structural timber damage to homes and buildings within a few months.
Formosan termites are a serious timber pest in Hawaii and coastal regions of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and southern California, as well as, inland towns and cities.
The Formosan termite is rarely found North of 35° N latitude. They have been reported from the following states: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Their distribution will probably continue to be restricted to southern areas because their eggs will not hatch below about 20° C (68° F).
Identification of Swarmers and Soldiers: Formosan termites swarm in huge numbers in late spring or summer; usually following a warm rainy day. They prefer to swarm in times of high humidity in the evening hours from dusk to midnight. The swarmers are attracted to lights and are about 1/25'', including wings. Their body color is pale yellowish brown. A fontanelle (frontal gland pore) is present.
The swarmers have four wings of equal size with dark hard veins in the front portion of the front wing. The wings are a translucent, slightly milky color and covered with tiny hairs. The armoured head of the soldier is rounded tapering toward the front. A fontanelle (frontal gland pore) is present on the soldier's forehead. They have large mandibles relative to their body, which is flat and narrower than the head.
When disturbed the Formosan soldier termite may emit a white sticky latex substance from it's fontanelle - a defensive measure to ensnare their enemies, primarily ants.
Identification of Timber Damage: Formosan termites eat mainly the springwood of susceptible timbers, most often leaving the summer wood sections. Timbers infested by Formosan termites usually have layered sections packed with moist soil in high activity areas.
Biology and Habits: Formosan termites are subterranean termites that typically live in the ground and a large mature nest will periodically emit swarmers in large numbers over a wide area to find a mate from another colony nest to start up a new colony. A suitable location for nesting should provide a constant moisture source and a readily available timber food source close by.
Several years are required before the termite colony reaches the typically mature size, which may contain millions of termites foraging for timber food sources within a 400 feet radius, actively feeding on trees and free-standing poles as well as buildings and other timber structures.
The colony nests of Formosan termites are usually located in the ground below the frost line, but above the water table. They typically construct mud galleries or "shelter tubes" across hard objects in order to gain access to timber food sources.
Formosan termites constantly search for new food sources. They are known to enter buildings through cracks in concrete flooring or to travel under parquetry or tile flooring through gaps of less than 1/16" wide. The space between the foundation and the first mortar joint is often enough space for termites to enter a home.
Formosan termites can establish secondary colonies in very moist wood of upper stories of buildings (even several stories above ground) and do not need soil contact if there is a nearly constant moisture source.
Where moisture regularly collects inside the wall or other cavities of a building, say from faulty plumbing or broken roof tiles, the Formosan termite can develop a subsidiary colony nest, which may not require contact with the ground to ensure its survival. This is particularly prevalent in areas of high humidity where wood moisture is above average.
Due to its size and aggressive foraging behaviour a colony of Formosan termites does more damage than single colonies of other U.S. subterranean species, and can cause significant structural damage to a home within 6 months.
|Western drywood termites|
The Western drywood termite accounts for most of the drywood termite damage in southern California.
Colonies contain up to about 2,000 termites. Severe damage may be caused by the presence of multiple-colonies.It is easily transported outside these areas in infested furniture and other timbers. This termite lives in timber with moisture content of less than 12%.
Drywood termites are often distributed by human activity, commonly by transporting infested furniture, picture frames, and wood to new areas. It has failed to become established in such areas outside its normal southern and mostly coastal range.
Identification of Swarmers and Soldiers: Swarmers are about 1/2" long including wings Their wings are 3/8" long. The head and pronotum of the swarmer is an orange brown and its abdomen is dark brown. The front wing has 3 dark, heavily hardened veins in the front portion.
The forehead of the soldier slopes down gradually from top of head, head flattened to slightly rounded in side view, and head orange to reddish brown with the eye spot whitish. Soldiers have mandibles with unequal number of teeth on each member of pair, and antenna with the third segment greatly enlarged and club-like.
Identification of Timber Damage: Although the colony development is slow, severe structural damage may still be caused by the presence of multiple-colonies. Drywood termites eat across the wood grain and create chambers, or galleries connected by tunnels.
Their gallery and tunnel walls are velvety smooth, and no soil is present. Generally, there are faecal pellets present. They are hard, less than 1/32" long, elongate-oval with rounded ends. One of the unusual distinctive signs of their faecal pellets is that they have 6 concave sides.
Evidence of infestation include swarmers, shed wings, piles of pellets, termite plugs that seal all openings in infested wood, and surface blisters caused by older, enlarged galleries very close to the wood surface.
Biology and Habits: Drywood termites are considered non-subterranean termites, as they do not live in the ground, require no ground contact, and do not build mud shelter tubes.
They are more likely to be in a structure made completely of wood with poor workmanship demonstrated by poorly fitted corner joints. The termites typically inter the ends of wood and seldom enter the sides of the section in question.
Their colonies are located in the wood they eat and are generally small in size when compared to subterranean termite colonies. The colony usually numbers about 3,000 individuals after over 10 to15 years. A distinctive indication is no presence of a worker caste and the nymphs perform all tasks typically done by workers.
After the mating flight, they seek cracks or knotholes in nearby wood and chew a small tunnel which they close then excavating a chamber after which they mate. After 3 year to 4 years the colony may consist of up to 1,000 members.
The first swarmers may be released when the colony is approximately 4 years old. Swarming typically takes place about midday on sunny, warm (80°F) days, with the peak of the swarm occurring shortly after a sudden rise in temperature. It typically occurs during September and October. Swarmers usually number in the dozens, occasionally the hundreds. Night swarmers are attracted to lights.
Swarming drywood termites fly into structures and infest wood directly. When swarming, they often reinfest the same structure. They typically first infest exposed wood such as window/door frames, trim, eaves and attics. They do so by finding a protected crevice or other area, such as the joint between 2 pieces of wood, where shingles/paper overhang timber or moulding, etc., and then attack the wood.
|Desert Dampwood termites|
Identification of Swarmers and Soldiers: The swarmers of this species are dark brown, swarming during the daytime.
Identification of Timber Damage: This species infests wood at or below ground level in the southwestern United States. It sometimes girdles young citrus trees and grapevines below the soil line in desert areas. In the southwest it attacks living trees and bushes and is a problem for citrus groves. Is a pest of timbers in service, infesting moist timbers that are in contact with he soil. Untreated posts, poles, and fences are attacked below ground level.
Biology and Habits: This species does not build mud shelter tubes above the ground in order to reach wood. This is an unusual dampwood termite in several respects.
The colonies extend from the wood into the soil, they sometimes kill living shrubs and trees, frass is cone-shaped rather than cylindrical, and the termites have a pungent odour. They also have directed trail-following behaviour, unlike other dampwood termites.
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