Most insect infestations like ants, wasps, and bees, are easy to spot. We see and often hear them. Termites, however, are silent destroyers. They stay out of sight, quietly doing their damage. The damage is slow and progressive. At Cowleys, we know that termite season has started once the calls start coming in from upset homeowners dealing with a termite swarm, the ritual where winged termites swarm to find mates and establish new colonies. While these swarms cause no property damage, they are the most obvious sign that subterranean termite nests are nearby. Since termite nests are built underground, you won’t randomly come across one. Rather, you have to be on the look-out for signs that termites are on your property. These swarms are the most obvious sign along with their byproduct — piles of discarded wings around doors and windowsills. Another sign of termites is discovering termite-damaged hollowed-out wood. That’s a late sign of a termite infestation that you want to avoid. Since termites eat wood from the inside out, the damage is done and expensive repairs are often needed.
Finally, a common sign of termites is mud tubes around your home’s foundation. While inspecting a home in Hazlet for termites, we found mud tubes that had been built over cement blocks in the dirt-floor crawl space. Termite problems often start in crawl spaces and basements because those are areas that often have water intrusion or moisture issues. Water and moisture lead to all sorts of problems including mold growth and insect infestations. Termites, like many insects, are attracted to moist wood. The big difference is that termites actually eat it! When it comes to property damage caused by insects, termites are, by far, number one. Because they consume wood, they literally eat your home, destroying it beam by beam, and board by board. Over the years, termites are able to eat through pounds and pounds of wood. According to one estimate, an average-sized colony can consume 22 linear feet of 2X4 pine board in a year.
So, what are these mud tubes that we found in Hazlet? Subterranean termites, which need moisture to survive, can infest homes either from the ground up, going directly into the wood, or by traveling through mud tubes along a home’s foundation. They build these protective tubes to stay moist because once exposed to air, these fragile insects can’t survive. With this Hazlet residence, mud tubes had formed even though the cement blocks were bone dry. This particular infestation showed that the surface on which mud tubes are built can be wet or dry.
To treat this tight space, we scheduled a full-scale liquid soil injection of Termidor to create a protective barrier. This termiticide is non-repellent and undetectable, so it is carried back to the nest and transferred to other termites. Soon, the entire colony is killed. With termites, just like with ants and other social insects, it is ineffective to kill random foraging insects. The colony is a breeding machine that will easily replace them. The only permanent solution is to destroy the colony.
While a termiticide is great for resolving an active infestation, because of the property damage caused by termites and the expense of replacing damaged building materials, Cowleys recommends the Sentricon termite colony elimination system. This preventative termite system uses bait stations to block termites from ever reaching your property in the first place. Considering your home investment, the best way to deal with termites is proactively, killing the colony before foraging termites start using your home as their colony’s food source.