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Termites and their Control

A colony of Eastern subterranean termites, the most common termites in Texas

There are three major species of termites in Southeast Texas. The two more common species both live underground and are called "subterranean termites." The Eastern subterranean termite (Reticulitermes flavipes) is shown here. We also get the Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus), which is slightly less common but somewhat more destructive.

Both of these species live underground in large, highly-organized colonies. They live in the ground, but they eat wood. This necessitates building mud shelter tubes between the soil and the wood if there is any space between the two because they can't tolerate the drier air outside of the mud shelter tube. It is estimated that there are as many as 70 termite colonies per acre in our part of the state.

In nature, subterranean termites have the important job of returning the nutrients in dead trees to the earth. Unfortunately, termites aren't the brightest of creatures, and they make no distinction between dead trees and the wood in our homes and other buildings. You house is just another pile of dead wood as far as a termite is concerned. The end result is an estimated cost of more than $5 Billion every year, in the United States alone, spent controlling termites and repairing the damage that they do.

Long story short: Left untreated, termites can literally eat you out of house and home.

 

Drywood Termites

Extreme close-up of drywood termites, which are occasionally found in Southeast Texas

Although less common than subterranean termites, drywood termites (family Kalotermitidae) are also found in in Texas, and they can be quite destructive.

As their name implies, drywood termites make their home in relatively moisture-free wood, not in the soil. In the wild, they usually nest in dead tree branches. But they are perfectly happy to live in the framing and trim of our homes, as well. In fact, they probably appreciate all the trouble we went through kiln-drying the wood for them. Like subterranean termites, if left untreated, drywood termites can literally destroy a wooden house.

Drywood termites are sometimes called "powder post termites" because of their habit of eating the wood from inside, so that it looks relatively sound on the outside, but is full of "powder" inside. The powder is actually called "frass," and sometimes it can be a sign of other wood-devouring insects besides termites. It's important to have a professional inspect your home so we make sure that the correct pest is being treated.

 

Termite Control

There's no single "best" method of termite control. Every situation is different, and we custom-tailor our termite control approach to every job. We consider things like the availability of alternate food sources, the composition of the soil, landscaping and grading, the presence of wells or cisterns on the property, and of course the species of termite and extent of infestation, to come up with the best, most effective and environmentally-responsible termite control plan for a particular property.

In general, we use some combination of direct wood treatment, soil treatments using non-repellent termiticides, and foaming of wall voids and other structural voids, to control termites. We also make recommendations as to how to best correct conditions conducive to infestation to help avoid future infestations, as well as recommending repairs of existing damage. All of our work is warranted, and the warranty is transferable to the new owners if you decide to sell your home.

Please call us to arrange for an on-site termite inspection and treatment estimate. We look forward to hearing from you.