Termites in Western Pennsylvania
Water-Damaged Wood in Western Pennsylvania is Attracting Termites. Here’s How to Protect Your Building.
In the wake of the heavy rain and subsequent flooding that recently swept across western Pennsylvania, many homes and business buildings are still suffering from residual water damage.
Unfortunately, the harm to some properties is only beginning. Some species of termites, such as dampwood termites, only feed on wood that’s been damaged by water, so if your building was affected by the flood, it may be in danger of being compromised even further by an infestation of tiny wood-eaters.
In this article, we’ll explain how to tell whether you have a termite infestation, and what to do if you realize you have one.
How to tell water damage apart from termite damage:
Water damage and termite damage can be easy to mistake for each other, but the treatment for these two problems is very different, so it’s important to know what you’re dealing with before you spend time or money trying to fix the problem.
Signs of water damage:
Water damage often creates square “cells” in the wood it affects, also known as “cubicle rot” due to the cube-shaped cells, or “alligatoring” because of the resemblance to an alligator’s back.
This is caused by the way the wood cracks and expands when its water content rises.
Water damage also causes wood floors to buckle as they become detached from the substrate, or to sag or sink and start feeling spongy when the material below them rots.
You might also see mold on water-damaged wood, since mold thrives in damp environments.
Signs of termite damage:
Subterranean termites eat soft, light-colored springwood, while leaving the harder, darker summerwood intact. This leaves cross-sections of the damaged wood looking like a honeycomb once the springwood has been eaten, and lengthwise segments of summerwood looking like thick sheets of paper.
If you see jagged lines of mud along the foundation of your building, those might be termite shelter tubes. These structures, also known as mud leads, protect the termites from drying out, and enable them to access a building when they can’t tunnel directly through the ground-level material.
Holes in wood are also possible indicators of a termite infestation, since these are the escape routes the creatures use to flee if their colony is attacked. If there is no imminent threat, these escape holes may be plugged.
Sometimes, imminent termite infestations can be spotted before they begin. Flying termites are drawn to lights and lit windows, and after they leave, you can sometimes see the discarded wings they left behind.
You might also find piles of frass, or termite droppings. These small mounds of waste look like wood shavings, and are usually found around the walls where exit holes were created. For more images on termites and to see our approach to termite treatment check this out.
How to get rid of termites
Termite damage costs Americans close to five billion dollars a year, and repairing a building that’s been chewed up by them can eat thousands of dollars out of your bank account.
Because of this, it’s important to stop an infestation as soon as possible, before the termites have a chance to carve too many tunnels in your property.
A moderate to severe infestation will nearly always require professional help, and even a small invasion might not always be completely defeated by do-it-yourself remedies, but these strategies will help you to reduce the size of your termite colony:
Use cardboard traps.
A couple flat, damp strips of cardboard will entice termites to come out of their tunnels to feed on the cellulose-rich bait. Once these strips are covered in termites, you can burn them to get rid of the pests, then lay out more strips.
This might not kill the whole colony, but it can enable you to remove large numbers of termites at a time.
Expose the nest to sunlight.
If the colony is established in a movable item, like a piece of furniture, putting it in a hot, dry, well-lit place can kill the termites. This can work well in conjunction with the wet cardboard trap, since it will encourage the termites to seek out the moist bait.
Using parasites that infect termites, like beneficial nematodes.
Nematodes burrow into termite larvae, usually killing them within two days, then use the host’s carcass as a place to spawn. They can be purchased at many garden supply stores or obtained online, and they should be planted in soil temperatures above 60 °F (16 °C) in the early morning or after sunset, to prevent the sun’s UV light from harming them.
Nematodes should be used immediately after they’re purchased. If you can’t use them right away, store them in the refrigerator.
Need to remove an infestation, or protect your home from pests?
If you have a termite problem, or any other kind of pest has gotten a foothold in your home or workplace, we’re here to make it go away.
We can save you thousands of dollars in termite-related repair costs, and prevent you from losing valuable work time if the infestation is in your business’ building.
If you’re sick of putting up with unwanted guests or spending valuable time trying to remove them yourself, and you want to get rid of the infestation quickly and get on with your life, visit this page and contact our pest control experts today!
Image Credit – Adobe Stock