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Termite Control in the Home
Wood destroying insects and other organisms can cause serious problems in the wood structural components of
a house and may go undetected for a long period of time.
All chemical soil treatments, bait systems, and chemical wood treatment must be approved by the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) and applied in accordance with the EPA label instructions. In some cases it is not
feasible for a builder to arrange for soil treatment. In this regard, the International Residential Code (IRC) by the
International Code council allows a builder to utilize pressure treated wood as a measure of termite protection. If
pressure treated wood is used, however, it must be used in all framing members up to and including the top plate
of the first floor level wall. This includes the subfloor and floor joists of the first floor. The use of pressure treated
wood in only the sill plate is not acceptable. In such cases, the builder must provide the lender with a letter stating
that the house is protected from termites by the use of pressure treated wood. The builder must also provide the
home buyer with a one year warranty against termites. The use of post-construction soil treatment where the
chemicals are applied only around the perimeter of the foundation is NOT acceptable in new construction.
Inspectors are to observe all areas of the house and other structures/areas within the legal boundaries of the
property that have potential for infestation by termites and other wood destroying organisms, including the
bottoms of exterior doors and frames, wood siding in contact with the ground and crawl spaces. Mud tunnels
running from the ground up the side of the house may indicate termite infestation. Observe the eave and gable
vents and wood window sills for indication of the entrance of swarming termites and note excessive dampness or
large areas where the vegetation is dead. Evidence of active termite infestation must be noted.
Termites - Why the concern?
There are many species of structural infesting termites and each one has developed effective ways to get at and
attack the wood in your home. Preventing termite attack and killing these termites is vital if you want to avoid the
damage they cause.
Termites live in colonies which are usually underground, although sometimes they can be within your home itself.
The "worker" termite forages outside of the colony for food. It consumes the wood creating "galleries" and then
returns to feed the rest of the colony. Tell-tale signs of termites include mud (or shelter) tubes on foundation
walls, termite swarms and of course infested wood members. Critter Ridders are trained and licensed
professionals who know termites and the products available for eliminating and/or preventing their attack.
KING and QUEEN
In a young colony, the king and the queen are the actively reproducing termites in the colony. Their only
function is the production of the eggs.
The tiny termite egg is almost transparent.
During the incubation period the egg is groomed and tended by workers. The larva hatches from the egg and is
about the same size.
This termite is the one which forages from the nest to the wood supply and returns with food for the colony.
Defender of the colony, the soldier termite develops a long, armored head and mandibles capable of cutting an
enemy ant in half. The soldier also sounds the alarm by banging his head against the side of a tunnel.
When nymphs reach maturity and become swarmers (kings and queens), they all leave the colony at about the
same time, usually in Spring or Fall. The swarmers fly very poorly and most of them flutter for only a few yards
before falling to the ground.
When the short flight is finished, the swarmers drop their wings and the males begin a frenzied search for
compatible mates. Because the swarmers are exposed and are prey to predator birds and insects, very few ever
survive to establish a new colony.
Earth tube of the subterranean termite Earth tubes between the soil and some wooden structure under the house
is a sure sign of subterranean termites. These tubes can go up the foundation wall, along plumbing, or directly
from the soil to the wood.
Hollow wood underneath a finished surface. Wood underneath will have earthfilled galleries, but termites are not
Subterranean termites are the most damaging insects of wood. Their presence is hard to notice and damage
usually is found before the termites are seen. Prevent infestations because if they occur they will almost always
need professional pest control service.
Signs of Infestation
Generally, the first sign of infestation is the presence of swarming termites on the window or near indoor light. If
they are found inside the house, it almost always means that they have infested. Other signs that may be found
are termite wings on window sills or in cobwebs, and shelter tubes which are tunnels constructed by the termites
from soil or wood and debris.
Usually, wood damage is not found at first, but when it is found it definitely reveals a termite infestation. Anywhere
wood touches soil is a possible entry into a home for termites. Examine wood which sounds dull or hollow when
struck by a screwdriver or hammer. Inspect suspected areas with a sharp, pointed tool such as an ice pick to find
termite galleries or their damage.
Control measures include reducing the potential infestation, preventing termite entry and applying chemicals for
Inspect thoroughly to determine if there is an infestation, damage, and/or conditions that could invite a termite
attack or the need fo remedial control measures. The tools and equipment needed for an inspection include a
flashlight, ice pick or sharp-pointed screwdriver, ladder and protective clothing.