Termites have been the bane of homeowners' lives since the first houses went up in this country 300 years ago. These wood-loving insects, silent and stealthy, creep into millions of American homes each year and cause an estimated $5 billion in damage. If you add in other man-made structures (such as barns, outbuildings, and places of business) and crops, that figure reaches $30 billion a year. You might think that an annual termite inspection is a bit excessive; after all, termites can't do that much damage in short spurts, right? Wrong. The aggressive Formosan termites, a type of subterranean termite at work in buildings nearly all over the United States, can cause significant damage to a home in just two years. So what should you do today about termites? First, schedule an inspection; then, if you do have termites, ask about the new treatment that is successfully and rapidly killing termites from the inside out.
Importance of annual inspections
When was the last time you had a pest control company inspect your home for termites? Chances are, if you are like most Americans, it was more than a year ago. Termite companies recommend annual inspections because they know how quickly termites can gain a foothold in a neighborhood.
Here's how termite infestations spread through an area.
In the spring, groups of termites swarm out from overpopulated colonies to form new ones.
These termites will alight on trees or telephone poles in the area while scouts search for easy entry to new houses.
Once entry is found through cracks in exterior walls, mulch packed up against the outside of a house, or other wood to ground contact, the scouts give the alert to the rest of the swarm.
The new termite colony establishes itself by either constructing elaborate below-ground caves (with tunnel systems that reach the house) or moving into the interior of the house itself.
Once settled in their new home termites multiply freely, reaching the size of a mature colony in two to four years. Colonies range in size depending on the type of termite. Drywood termite colonies can number 4,800 while subterranean termite colonies can reach one million members. Formosan colonies can achieve double that number.
As you can see, your house isn't immune to termite infestation. Because of that, it is critical that you check every year to determine whether or not termites have moved into your home.
Two step knock out: new termite treatment
Until recently, the most common treatments for termite infestations included fumigation and spot treatments. However, researchers at Purdue University recently discovered an industry-changing solution to termite problems. They found that introducing a below-lethal dose of a certain pesticide called imidacloprid into a termite colony wipes out the "good" bacteria in termites' intestinal systems, leaving them vulnerable to disease. It also makes them stop grooming each other, a social behavior in which they feed on each other's secretions, strengthening the corporate immune systems of the group. Once the imidacloprid has done its job, scientists introduce a fungal disease-causing agent that quickly eliminates the entire colony. It appears termites' intestinal bacteria and social immune-building behaviors are their primary protection against disease, so when these are interrupted, death comes rapidly.
If your termite inspection shows that your house has become home to a colony of termites, ask the exterminator about imidacloprid treatment. It may be less expensive than fumigation, and may offer longer-lasting protection. Once the fumigation tent is removed from your home and the gas clears, your house is open for new termite colonies to establish themselves. However, if the soil and the interior of your house have been treated with imidacloprid, new colonies will not be able to sustain themselves.
Read more by visiting the sites of local pest professionals.