There are over 3,100 species of termites identified on six continents causing over $5 billion of damage yearly making them a major nuisance to homeowners and various industries. Termites are small, pale, soft-bodied insects that live in colonies feeding primarily on dead and decaying wood. Similar to ants and bees, termites have numerous castes among which labor is divided. The castes are generally defined as workers, soldiers and swarmers. The appearance of most termites is relatively undifferentiated; however, the soldier caste has specialized head and jaw features along with mouthparts that are more suited to defense than feeding. The reproductive caste (swarmers) appears in springtime when nymphs mature and develop wings. The swarms of males and females that emerge have a darker coloring and are often seen in transit, but are weak fliers.
Identifying Termite Damage:
It is unlikely that you will see termites, so it is important to spot warning signs early on. Preventative maintenance will be the cheapest and easiest solution to termite issues. The following are common indicators of termite activity:
- Termite excrement – small, ridged pellets that are wood-colored.
- Mud tubes on building or structure surfaces.
- Wings shredded around an entry point to your home. These resemble small fish scales.
Chemical-Free Termite Control:
Consistent monitoring will be necessary if you are in an area with known termite issues.
- Boric Acid can be applied directly to the tubes or around building foundations as a preventative treatment. Diatomaceous Earth can be used in a similar fashion as it will create small cuts that eventually dehydrate pest insects.
- Soak active termite nests thoroughly with Orange Guard, an OMRI-certified citrus peel extract-based organic insecticide.
- Apply S. riobrave beneficial nematodes to the soil along the foundation of the infested structure and surrounding areas. Thorough treatment of the full area of the suspected infestation should be made. Apply using a Hose End Sprayer or watering can. Use as much water as necessary to carry them down into the soil.
- Remove or relocate wood piles in direct contact with structures. If there are water sources near the foundation, ensure they are working properly and are not leaking. The surplus moisture serves as an additional attractant for termites.