Recently, I went on a service call for a new commercial account, a church in Matawan, NJ, to resolve a termite infestation. One of the church staff members found evidence of termites in the office. Termites are the silent destroyers of property. These subterranean insects primarily feed on cellulose, which is found in wood. Any building materials containing wood are susceptible to termite damage.
One of the most visible signs of termites is observing a termite swarm or finding piles of insect wings indicating that termites have swarmed. As a termite colony matures, it begins to produce a reproductive caste called alate nymphs that develop into winged swarmers. Once these termites leave the nest and take flight, they head toward the first light they see, which is why we find evidence of swarms taking place inside buildings around windows and doors. Their fragile wings are temporary. Once they land and find a mate to start a new colony, their wings, no longer needed, are discarded. These flying reproductive termites are sometimes confused with flying ants. It is important to distinguish between the two since their treatments are different. The key identifying trails of termites are their straight, beaded antennae, uniform waists, and wings of equal size. However, it takes practice, and the safest course of action is to contact a pest control professional.
As I inspected, I confirmed that the church did, in fact, have a termite infestation. There were a large number of termite swarmer wings that indicated there was recent swarming activity. Although it is upsetting to find a termite swarm, it is far better than being unaware of an infestation. Since termites eat wood from the inside out, termite damage is often not discovered until an infestation is in its late stages and there is already extensive damage.
Unfortunately, termites will infest any building and they do not exempt houses of worship. Because this church was a larger, older building, I did not want to start drilling through the floor to reach the soil to apply treatment. Under the circumstances, we felt that the best and safest treatment method was to install a Sentricon termite baiting system. This baiting system is specifically designed to eliminate the nearby subterranean termite colonies using an insect growth regulator (IGR) that inhibits molting in termites. The termites then pass the active ingredient throughout the colony. In a short amount of time, the queen and her entire colony are eliminated. I scheduled a follow-up inspection to assess the treatment and determine any additional steps, if necessary, to resolve the infestation.