When it comes to termites, it all starts when the queen lays nearly 20,000 to 30,000 eggs per day. What’s worse is that these termites can live for a staggering 30 years but the common ones here in the US have a 15-17 year lifespan. The growth of the colony is another cause of concern as there are several nymphs that develop into supplemental queens. This allows the colonies to grow and thrive.
Even if the queen dies, new queens will take charge and ensure the colony survives after the queen dies. Regardless of what type of termite you are dealing with or the stage of the life cycle, it should be spotted and a professional should be brought in to solve this issue as soon as possible.
We need to understand how termites function and what are the pathways that they take along their lifecycle. Each termite has its own role and this is why the next section will help define and illustrate this in detail.
Two Pathways of Termites
Based on the future assignments, the bodies of the termite larvae will change and grow based on future assignments. Workers have a slight chance of becoming a soldier while a nymph is destined to become a part of the reproductive stage termites.
Worker termites cause a lot of damage to your house. They seek out wood, chew it up, digest it and regurgitate it for other termites to feed on. They pass protozoa and bacteria to other worker termites so that these tools are required to digest wood. Workers do other jobs like ensuring that the colony operates successfully. This means that they build mud tunnels and looking after the young termite larvae soldiers and the queen. In case the queen needs more soldiers, the workers will help defend the colony. When this happens, their heads grow and so does the mandibles to act as weapons to fight the enemies.
Nymphs lay their own eggs at their own discretion or under the direction of the queen. In time, they would develop to become the secondary queen and help the queen by constantly laying eggs to grow the colony. They develop into swarming reproductive termites with wings and leave the nest to start their own termite colony.
Preventive Measures to Kill Termites
Before Building Your Home
The best termite prevention starts in the planning stages and should be part of the construction of your home. This means that you should build a Basaltic Termite Barrier (BTB) which is made of rock particles that are packed beneath the house and makes it unable for termites to get through it. You can also add a stainless steel screen with small holes and perfect the problems in cold joints with concrete. This is because poured concrete foundations are the hardest to invade even if there are no cracks. Bricks and blocks develop cracks as they age and this should have a capping of 4 inches of solid concrete to make it really hard for termites to try and enter. You can use steel frames and pressure treated wood or termite resistant heartwood during construction and the termite resistant heartwood is highly recommended to prevent termites.
Prevent Termites in Your Home
There are several things that homeowners should do to help prevent termites in homes that are already built. The first thing is to reduce soil to wood contact around the house. What you should do is to remove lumber, plants, mulch, and wood from places around the foundation. Ensure that there is a 4-inch barrier between the mulch and your home. If possible, you should have a concrete foundation that touches the soil with a siding that starts at least 6 inches above the soil. Also, by keeping plants away from the foundation, it would act as a deterrent and help in termite prevention. You should make stormwater drains empty a few feet from the foundation and that the soil drainage is effective in minimizing moist soil. Ensure that leaky faucets are fixed and eliminate places where there is excess moisture as this creates the ideal places for invasion. Also, you should turn off outdoor lights during winter thaw as the temperatures are rising. This means that you should relocate lights that are in recessed areas from the windows and doors as the light tends to attract swarmers.
What to Watch Out For
You need to inspect your home regularly and look for evidence of termites. This can be seen in carton or frass that they make which are from waste materials left behind by subterranean and drywood termites. Patterns in the wood can help distinguish with what termites to deal with. Subterranean termites eat soft wood between grains while drywood termites eat across the grain with no patterns. In sheetrock, blistering appears wherever termites have appeared. Mud tunnels can be considered as evidence of termites. These highways help the termites avoid harsh sunlight, control moisture and stay protected as they look for places to enter and eat. Also, don’t forget to look at cracks in the foundation and other structural issues that make it easy access for termites.
How To Keep Termites Out
Worried about how to keep termites out? Then you should keep an eye on signs that there are termites swarming your home. Here are the top 5 ways to keep termites at bay:
- Trim Shrubbery
You need to ensure that all shrubbery around your home is trimmed. It should be at least 12 inches between the shrubbery and the exterior wall. This will create a nice air flow and allow damp areas to dry out quicker. This way you can find termite tubes and reduce termite damage earlier than the regular time it would take to discover it.
- Use Pine Needles
Choose pine needles over mulch as it is less appetizing to termites and this helps to minimize the environment for insects to nest as well. If you can get pine needles in your region then you should consider it. Otherwise, the non-organic material can work as a barrier between your house and mulch.
- Positioning Sprinkler Heads
You need to ensure that all sprinkler heads are pointed away from your home’s foundation. This means that you need to ensure that these are not pointed towards your home and does not make it an ideal environment for these termites.
- Preventative Maintenance
By ensuring that you properly maintain the exterior of your homes like windows and the wooden fixtures, it would decrease the likelihood of water leaking behind your wall and making it an ideal environment for termites to come in.
- Reduce Moisture with Proper Ventilation
Most homes have a lot of crawl space underneath it and it is up to you to ensure that there is enough ventilation and allows it to work as a good vapor barrier. This will help minimize moisture from reach the floor joists and subfloor. The moisture in crawl spaces can lead to the wood being damaged, fungus growing on it and unpleasant odors. This creates the ideal environment for termites and beetles to infest your home. This is one of the major reason as to why you should have proper ventilation in your home.
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