Get a free estimate
If you have questions about our services, plans, or pricing we are here for you. Fill out the form below and we will communicate with you by email (and of course provide you with a free estimate).
MARCH 21 2022 / PEST AND TERMITE
Termites are the pests that everyone knows about, but no one thinks they’ll end up with them in their own house. However, the fact is that termites are highly active in Maryland, and having the attitude that your Maryland property isn’t at risk of a termite infestation is an almost certain way to end up with a termite infestation.
For the safety of your home, it’s wise to learn a little bit about the termites that are active in our area so that you can take steps to prevent an infestation from occurring in your home. The following information is what Maryland property owners need to know about subterranean termites.
There are several species of termites in the United States. When most people talk about termites, they don’t differentiate the species, but just talk about termites in general. However, if you end up with an infestation in your home, it does matter what type of termites are present because different species of termites require different methods of treatment.
Although you may have heard of drywood termites and Formosan termites, these two species are not currently known to be established in Maryland, so although possible, it is highly unlikely that these types of termites would end up in your Maryland home. Instead, the termites that you are likely to experience here in Maryland are subterranean termites.
Subterranean termites are the most common termite species in the United States. They are found in every state except Alaska. They are also the most destructive species of termites in the United States. They eat through wood 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
As their name suggests, they live most of their lives primarily underground. However, if they make their way into your Maryland home, they’ll live within your walls and the wooden structures inside your house instead of in the ground.
There are three castes of subterranean termites that have physical differences and very different jobs within the colony. The top caste is made up of the queen, king, and other reproductive termites called alates. For most of her life, the queen is the only female in the colony that actively reproduces.
As she gets older, other females will sometimes begin to help with the task, but it is typically her job alone to lay eggs. This is the only job the queen has for as long as she is alive.
The other reproductive members of the colony wait until they reach maturity, then leave the colony to find a mate and start their own colony. This mating process typically happens in the spring and occurs with a large swarm of reproductive termites leaving the colony all together at the same time.
This is usually the only time you’ll see subterranean termites come out in the open. Once they find a mate, the termites will return underground to start their new colony.
Reproductive termites look different from the other two castes. They are darker in color, have two sets of wings, and look very similar to flying ants. Unlike the other termites in the colony, their bodies are designed to withstand the outside air and sun for when they need to come out in the open to mate.
The next caste is made up of soldier termites. The soldiers have the job of protecting the queen and the nest. They are typically stationed at the entrance and exit of the nest to fight off anything that may threaten them. Ants are their most common enemy.
Smaller than reproductive termites, soldier termites have big, blocky heads and large, strong jaws used to help defend the colony. Their bodies are wide, flat, and a lighter, creamier color than their heads.
Worker termites are similar in size and color to soldier termites. They have smaller heads and jaws, but their jaws are also very strong; they just have a different purpose. Worker termites have jaws that are designed to chew through wood instead of defending against predators.
Worker termites eat through wood to create tunnels and nesting areas, but that is not their only job. They are also responsible for taking care of all the other termites in the colony. They feed the queen, king, reproductives, and soldiers. They clean out the tunnels. They even take care of the young.
The problem with subterranean termites is twofold. First, it’s very likely that you won’t realize that they are in your house. Worker termites and soldier termites can’t come out in the open because the sun and air will quickly dry them out and kill them. Only the reproductive termites have bodies that can withstand the elements.
That means that the only time you are likely to see termites out in the open is if you happen to be around during a termite swarm, which usually occurs in the spring. Otherwise, termites will stay hidden away inside the wooden elements of your house, totally out of sight.
The only initial sign you may see of their presence is the mud tubes they sometimes make when they need to travel safely from one location to another. These mud tubes are usually built on foundation walls and are about the width of a pencil.
The second part of the problem with subterranean termites is that they cause extensive damage to your house. The entire time they are inside, they will spend their days eating away at the wooden elements of your house. Over time the tunnels will grow longer and more numerous.
The colony will also grow, which only serves to increase the amount of damage that can be caused in a shorter period of time.
When you put these two parts of the problem together, you can understand why subterranean termites are a problem. Termites are destructive and they can go for months, or even years in some cases, without being noticed.
That means that serious damage can be done to your house before you even realize you have a problem. Since the termites themselves are out of sight and the damage they cause is out of sight, it typically doesn’t become noticeable until it is extensive.
Oftentimes, the reason you discover a termite infestation in your house is because the damage has become so bad that it becomes an obvious problem. At this point, there is likely serious structural damage that will be costly to repair. Common signs of extensive termite damage include:
Windows or doors that don’t open or close properly.
Wallpaper or paint that begins to bubble or peel.
Ceilings that start to sag.
Floors that begin to buckle.
Walls that begin to bulge.
Discovering a termite infestation this late in the game is not ideal. However, if you pay attention and look for them, it’s possible to notice a termite infestation sooner rather than later. Some earlier signs of a termite infestation include:
Finding mud tubes along the foundation of your house, either inside or outside.
Seeing small holes in the exposed wood in your house.
Finding small piles of a sawdust-like material below the holes you find in the wood.
Knocking on the wooden elements in your home and finding some that sound hollow.
Of course, discovering that termites are in your house at all, no matter how early or late in the infestation you discover them, is not ideal. Keeping your house free from termites in the first place is the best way to protect it from damage. But is there any way to prevent termites from getting into your Maryland home?
The bad news is that there isn’t anything you can do on your own to entirely prevent a subterranean termite infestation. The good news is that there are several things you can do on your own to make your Maryland house and property less appealing to termites.
The less appealing your property is, the less likely termites are to get close to your house. The less likely termites are to get close to your house, the smaller the chance you have of ending up with a termite infestation.
What are the things you can do to prevent a subterranean termite infestation? First, eliminating as many areas of moisture around your property is essential. Not only do termites need moisture to survive, but they also prefer water damaged wood.
Excess moisture on your property can lead to wood rot. Wood rot is like a neon Welcome sign to termites. Eliminate excess moisture by:
Ensuring that you have proper drainage systems that lead away from your house.
Keeping foliage, shrubbery, bushes, and other landscape trimmed back to minimize shaded areas where water can’t evaporate as quickly.
Eliminating low spots around your property where water may pool.
The other major thing you can do to make your property less appealing to termites is to eliminate areas where wood has direct contact with the soil. This is something most homeowners don’t give a second thought to, but it’s a vital prevention technique.
Since termites don’t come out in the open, providing them with areas where they can go directly from the soil to the wood is very appealing to them. Eliminate these areas by:
Storing firewood in a building or somewhere where it is up off the ground.
Removing wood mulch from your landscaping.
Swapping out wood fence posts that are put directly in the ground.
Putting concrete footings under deck posts so the posts don’t touch the soil.
Although eliminating moisture and wood-to-soil contact will help prevent termites, they are not a guarantee that termites won’t still find their way to your property. Even sound, dry wood can be infested by hungry termites if they can’t find water-damaged wood nearby.
The only way to be certain that your Maryland property is 100% protected from subterranean termites is to get professional termite control from American Pest. We use America’s #1 termite baiting system, The Sentricon® System with Always Active™.
After thoroughly inspecting your property, we’ll install bait stations into the soil around the perimeter of your home.
These bait stations continuously monitor and protect your home from termites and the damage they cause. They also allow you worry-free termite protection.
We’ll maintain the system, and our termite guarantee ensures that your home will remain termite-free for as long as you have the system in place.
Whether you have an active termite infestation or wish to prevent one, American Pest is ready to help. Contact us today to schedule your termite inspection.