Why You Should Monitor Your Property for Signs of Termite Activity

Missouri termite

Termites are a serious concern for homeowners. In fact, termites do approximately $5 billion in damages annually, according to Pestworld.org. Termites are often referred to as “silent destroyers,” and they can chew through wood and flooring without early signs of damage.

The most common and destructive type of termite in Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma is the subterranean termite. Subterranean termites can be found in every state except Alaska. Subterranean termites vary in appearance from creamy white to dark brown or black. Depending on their caste, these termites can be between ¼-½ inch long.

Termite Castes

Termite colonies are organized into castes, which are divisions in the roles performed in the colony. These castes radically affect how a termite looks. A termite’s size, color, shape, are all determined by the caste to which it belongs.

1. Reproductives

Termites in the reproductive caste are, as the name implies, dedicated to reproducing for the colony. The queen and king mate and lay all the eggs to grow and sustain the colony. Another type of reproductive is called an alate and is also referred to as a swarmer. These termites grow wings and will fly out of a colony in a “swarm,” mate, and move on to begin their own colonies as kings and queens. The swarm is one of the most visible evidences of a termite colony’s existence.

2. Workers

Workers make up the majority of members in a colony. Sporting large jaws resembling shears, these are the termites that actually do the chewing. Their powerful jaws allow them to take tiny bites of any wood material they run into, destroying it over time. Worker termites are tasked with foraging for the colony. They also groom and feed termites from other castes.

3. Soldiers

Soldier termites have only one task: to defend the colony. Their oversized mandibles help distinguish them from other termites. Because of their mandibles, soldier termites are incapable of caring for themselves. Soldiers are fed and groomed by workers.

Termite Damage and Signs of Infestation

Building large colonies, subterranean termites can weaken a structure to the point of collapse if they are given the time. A colony of 60,000 workers can consume two feet worth of 2×4” studs in only a year, according to Pestworld.org. This entertaining video from Dr. Mike Bentley and the National Pest Management Association shows the voraciousness of termites in action.

It is important to know the signs of termite infestation. Termites are subtle pests that can easily go unnoticed if close attention isn’t given. Mud tubes, wood blistering, droppings, and discarded wings are all indicators of termite infestation. Discarded wings near window sills or other access points to your home mean that alates have landed on your property and have begun a colony in your home. As wood begins to weaken due to termite damage, its surface may begin to wrinkle and blister. Additionally, small mounds of termite dung resembling sawdust may accumulate near the infestation. Wood that has been affected will begin to sound hollow.

How to Prevent Infestation

In order to prevent an infestation before it starts, there are some specific measures to take. First of all, the subterranean termite, as its name suggests, builds nests underground. Because of this, any wood in your home that touches soil is a likely conduit for termite infestation.Cracks in your foundation also present an opportunity for termites to gain entry into your house. 

You should make sure your lawn is not a hospitable place for termites. It is recommended that you refrain from burying brush or wood in your yard, as it could help sustain a termite colony in close proximity to your house, increasing the likelihood of a future infestation. Additionally, termites require moisture in order to survive. Eliminating sources of water or dampness around your house could help protect your home. 

Even if all the right preventative measures are in place, termites may still attack your property. It is essential for your home’s safety that you are on the lookout for signs of infestation. It is recommended that you have your house inspected for signs of termite activity on a yearly basis. If you’re interested in setting up an inspection or requiring quality extermination services, Bug-A-Way Pest Control is ready to meet your termite control needs.