Everything You Need to Know About the Termites in Springfield, VA
Termites may be a concern throughout the entire US, but some climates lend themselves to higher than average termite populations and problems. Here in Springfield, our hot, humid summers and temperate winters mean that termites are comfortable and active all year long. In order to avoid ending up with an infestation, you need to understand a few things about these destructive pests. Here’s everything you need to know about the termites in Springfield, Virginia.
What is a Termite Caste System?
To truly understand how termites work, spread from place to place, and cause damage, you have to understand their system of living. Termites operate within a caste system in which every member of the colony has a specific job and skill set. While there can be some movement from class to class, especially if something threatens the colony’s population, each member will most likely stay within its own caste for the entirety of its life.
The first caste in a termite colony is the reproductive caste. The queen and king are the top two termites, responsible for forming and growing the colony. Most of the termites born into the colony are the offspring of the queen and king. At her peak, a queen can lay more than 1000 eggs each day. Kings and queens can live around 50 years which is much longer than the lifespan of any other termite in the colony.
Within the reproductive caste are another group of termites called alates. These termites have eyes and wings, which is unlike the lower two classes. When they reach maturity, they leave the colony in a large swarm and venture out into the open. This is the only time you’ll ever see termites outside on their own. Most termites spend their entire lives underground or within the walls of your home. Once outside, this swarm of reproductive termites will each find a mate. Once they do, they’ll drop their wings and head off to form their own new colony as king and queen.
Soldier termites are another caste within a termite colony. Soldier termites are small and blind with oversized jaws. Unable to reproduce, these termites have only one job: To protect the nest. They spend most of their time stationed at the entrances and exits of the nest, keeping it free from intruders. They do this with the help of their strong jaws and by excreting a white sticky substance to slow intruders down.
The largest group in a termite colony is the worker caste. Worker termites are the smallest of the three groups, and like soldier termites, they are both blind and sterile. Worker termites are in charge of every job besides reproduction and protection. They build tunnels and nests, feed the reproductives and soldiers, take care of the babies and eggs, and maintain every part of the colony. With soft bodies that are sensitive to light, they do not come out in the open. Both worker and soldier termites only live one to two years.
How Termite Infestations Spread
Once you have an understanding of the termite caste system, it becomes much easier to understand how termites can spread throughout an area like Springfield. It all begins when the reproductive alates take their flight to find a mate. When a termite swarm occurs, it means that there is a well-established termite colony that likely has thousands of members or more. A small colony will not have enough mature alates to take flight, so termite swarms only occur from large, well-established colonies.
Once the reproductive termites find their mates, they shed their wings and go back underground in a new, nearby location to begin a new colony. Depending on how many termites were in the swarm, there could easily be 50 new colonies getting started at the same time, all in locations spread out from the original colony they came from.
After a new colony forms, it takes one to two years for it to be ready to send out reproductive swarms. That means that although there may have only been one swarm initially, once all the new colonies are ready to go, there could be dozens of swarms all occurring within close proximity, both in time and space. From there, even more new colonies will form, spreading out farther and farther from the original colony.
Termite Damage: What You Need to Know
The greatest problem with termites is that they can go undetected for so long. The only termites that come out in the open are the reproductive termites, and they only do so in the spring during a swarm. Otherwise, you can go for months or years with termites inside the walls of your Springfield home or business and never even know about it.
Termite damage to structures is done exclusively by the worker termites as they build tunnels and gather food for the colony. Over time, the colony grows larger, and the number of worker termites increases into the thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions. With this many termites constantly chewing through the wood making up your home or business, it’s easy to understand how they will cause extensive damage.
When looking for termite damage, it helps to know how subtle the signs can be. Almost all of the damage will be hidden with a few small but notable exceptions:
- If you have any areas where wooden structures come into direct contact with the ground, start there. Dig down into the soil and look for grooves along the outside of the wood. This is a sign that termites are present.
- Check wooden structures inside the building in the hard to reach places, like crawl spaces or the attic. Look for small holes in the wood, as well as piles of frass- a sawdust-like substance that the termites would have pushed out of the hole.
- Knock on wood. If the damage is significant enough, a beam may sound hollow when you knock on it.
- Check windows and doors. If they are difficult to open or close, it may be a sign of termite damage.
- Once termites have caused a lot of damage, you’ll begin to notice it in more obvious ways. Floors will begin to buckle. Ceilings will start to sag. Wallpaper will start to bubble and walls will begin to bulge.
How to Make Your Springfield Home or Business Less Attractive to Termites
Preventing a termite infestation is a far better option than trying to eliminate one after it is already active. There are steps you can take to make your Springfield home or business less attractive to termites.
- Eliminate all unnecessary wood to soil contact around your home or business. Think about fence posts, decking, and other such areas.
- Keep as much soil away from your foundation as possible. When landscaping, consider using stone instead of mulch.
- Reduce moisture as much as possible. Although termites will infest dry wood, they prefer wet wood, so reducing moisture both inside and outside of your home or business will help make your building less attractive to termites.
Use treated lumber. If you’re doing a building project, treat the wood you’re using before you begin to reduce the chance of a termite infestation.
- Get a home inspection. This is solid advice for any home or business owner, even ones who have been in their building for years, but is especially important before buying a new home or business. It would be terrible to move in only to discover that the building is damaged because of a termite infestation. This is so important that many lenders require an inspection before they’ll approve a loan.
- Get termite protection. American Pest offers termite control that not only eliminates active infestations, but protects your structure from the threat of termites 24/7.
How to Eliminate an Active Termite Infestation
If termites have already invaded your home or business, they are not going to leave on their own. Instead, they’ll settle in and continue to damage your structure until it’s an unsafe place to inhabit. If you have an active termite infestation, you must take action to eliminate it. American Pest is here to help.
American Pest is a certified installer and maintainer of the Sentricon® System with Always Active™. This termite baiting station is the #1 brand in termite protection, and it not only eliminates active colonies, but also keeps future colonies from choosing your home or business as their home.
Sentricon® with Always Active™ works through the use of termite bait stations that are installed in the soil at regular intervals around your structure. These bait stations are locked and only accessible with a special key, making them safe from tampering and safe for children.
As termites forage for their food, they’ll come upon a bait station. The bait we use is scientifically proven to be more enticing to termites than regular wood cellulose. Once a termite takes the bait, it not only brings it back to feed the soldiers and reproductives, but also alerts the other worker termites to its presence. The bait contains an ingredient that inhibits growth. After coming in contact with it, the termites will be unable to molt, resulting in their death. Over a period of a few months, the entire colony will be eliminated.
The Sentricon® System with Always Active™ is continuously monitored by the experts at American Pest to make sure no termite activity is present, as well as maintained by us to keep your protection at peak levels.
If you are concerned about termites in your Springfield home or business, contact American Pest. One of our trained service professionals will perform a thorough inspection to determine if any termite activity is present. We will make suggestions about the best way to proceed with either termite elimination, termite prevention, or both. We will keep your Springfield building termite-free. We guarantee it.
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