Category Archives: Termites

Carpenter Ants vs. Termites

It’s important to differentiate between two flying, wood-destroying pests – the carpenter ant and the termite. Many people will often confuse the two, as both pests are very similar in color, size, and shape. Knowing what pest you have will make getting rid of them faster, easier, and safer, saving you time and money in the long run.

According to the National Pest Management Association, termites cause an estimated $5 billion in property damage each year. Homeowners are generally aware of the devastation termites can leave in their wake, but carpenter ants can also prove to be destructive to the wood found both in and outside of the home. Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t actually eat the wood they come in contact with but instead hollow out galleries inside the wood for nesting and living as they feeding on food left behind by people (especially meats and sweets). Carpenter ants are frequently mistaken for winged termites during mating season when the male and female ants leave the colony to find a suitable mate. If an infestation from either pest is left undetected for a prolonged period of time, they each can cause expensive damage. Treatments for either a carpenter ant or termite infestation should be handled by a pest control professional.

There are certain characteristics that can be used to differentiate swarms of carpenter ants as compared to termites, the most important being the appearance of elbowed antennae and small or pinched waist with wings that are longer in the back than the front pair.

carpenter-ant-vs-termite

Carpenter Ants Termites
Bent antennae Straight antennae
Hourglass waistline No waistline; straight abdomen
Unequal wing length in the front and back Equal wing length in both front and back
Wings are partially translucent Wings are opaque or appear to be silver in color

Carpenter Ants

Characteristics

  • Carpenter ants are normally 5/8 inch long.
  • Carpenter ants have two small wings and two large wings (females only).
  • They also have very narrow, hourglass-shaped waists that separate their abdomen from their thorax and head.
  • Their antennae are elbowed.
  • Carpenter ants have reddish-brown thoraxes and heads with black abdomens.
  • They commonly nest around man-made structures and are the most common household pest in Florida.

Infestation

  • Carpenter ants do not feed on the wood they remove. Their feeding habits are similar to other ants, favoring sweets.
  • Carpenter ants search for moist wood to build their nests, particularly in attics, ceilings, and floors.
  • Carpenter ants are not a typically a year-round concern for homeowners. However, during spring swarm season, carpenter ants travel en masse to find new nesting locations.
  • Their nests consist of an expansive network of tunnels and passages within the structure of your home. Over time, these nests can seriously weaken your home’s structural integrity.

Termites

Characteristics

  • Termites are normally 1/4 inch long. Termite swarmers range from 3/8 to 1/2 inch long.
  • Termites have four wings of equal length (reproductive only).
  • They have thick waists which are similar in size than the rest of their bodies.
  • Termites have two antennae that are straight.
  • They are characterized by thin white skin and are commonly light to medium brown in color.
  • Nests are either underground (subterranean) or in the wood of your home (drywood).

Infestation

  • Termites feed on wood and some species build nests in wood.
  • Drywood termites, unlike subterranean termites, do not need contact with soil for their moisture needs. They get their moisture from the wood they eat.
  • Termites can be a huge problem anywhere. Also problematic are the nesting habits of many termite species which can make them difficult to spot.
  • Termites can cause serious structural damage to any home in a matter of months if left untreated.

The first step in controlling a pest problem is identifying the pest itself. If you are unsure which pest you’re dealing with or if you need help eliminating an infestation, Truly Nolen can help. Our Four Seasons Pest Control program will help prevent ant infestations in and around your home throughout the year, including carpenter ants. Our Total Termite Protection plan will eliminate termites and prevent future infestations. Most importantly, it’s backed by our Million Dollar Guarantee.

St. Petersburg Roof Collapse Caused by Termites

Subterranean termites take a big bite out of local homes

st-petersburge-termiteWHAT: The above photo taken last week depicts exactly what happens when a colony of subterranean termites makes a home out of your house. As roofs collapse, subterranean termites are creating havoc in other homes unbeknownst to their owners.

Why have subterranean termites arrived months ahead of schedule? And what can homeowners do to prepare and prevent?

Jeffery McChesney of Truly Nolen saw a 30 percent increase of these silent destroyers last winter and predicts this year to be even worse. The increase in rain has allowed soil to get saturated, creating the perfect moist conditions for termites to thrive.

Available for interviews upon request, Jeffery has these tips (and more):

  • Eliminate or reduce moisture in and around your home.
  • Maintain at least an 18-inch gap between your home and soil.
  • Trim hedges and other vegetation to prevent ventilation blockages.

WHERE: St. Petersburg area.

WHO: Scott Brody

WHEN: Subterranean termites swarming now, months earlier than normal.

WHY: Subterranean termites swarming now, months earlier than normal.

  • Termite damage is rarely covered by home insurance.
  • Subterranean termites are the most destructive species of termite.
  • An estimated $5 billion in termite-related property damage occurs every year in America.

CONTACT: To schedule an interview with Jeffrey, please contact Michelle Hawthorn, TilsonPR at 561-910-4301
mhawthorn@tilsonpr.com

National Pest Management Month: Four Common Pests to Watch Out For

We all know the feeling of the cringe-worthy moment when we hear little scurries across the floorboards, or see teeny droppings in our cupboards and run to call for the first available pest control service appointment.

For more than 30 years, the National Pest Management Association has celebrated the month of April as ‘National Pest Management Month’ to recognize pest management professionals for their efforts in protecting individuals’ health and property from those cringe-worthy moments. With spring season upon us, now is a good time to brush up on four common household nuisances and how to prevent or identify an infestation.

So the next time you see a creepy crawler and wonder what it is, keep in mind these four common pests:

Ants: Ranging from reddish browns to blacks and even yellow, ants are common throughout the year. No matter the climate, ants have an arduous way about them, making their homes in the tiniest of places. As the number one nuisance in the U.S., ants are capable of infesting office buildings, homes and restaurants. Ants are often attracted by sweets and proteins, so keep spills, pet food and other foods cleaned up and/or containers tightly sealed.

Termites: Termites live in colonies that can grow to large numbers. Their usual methods of infesting a home can include entering through cracks in concrete floors from underground, a space as small as 1/64th of an inch or larger. Termites can also be carried in through infested wood such as old furniture, firewood or building materials. Both Subterranean and Drywood termite colonies even have members equipped with wings, being able to fly into a home and begin a new colony. Make sure to have your home thoroughly inspected yearly by a professional to spot termites and/or damage before it’s too late.

Spiders: Varying greatly in size, spiders are often the sign of a more serious insect infestation. As carnivorous hunters, spiders feast on insects such as ants and crickets and hide in cracks and crevices under well-protected areas inside or outside the home. Being popular all year round, the best way to reduce the risk of spider invasions is to remove clutter, repair windows and screens and dust regularly.

Bed Bugs: Bed bugs are known to be travelers, packing away in your suitcase until the most opportune moment to make themselves cozy in your home. Living up to one and a half years, bed bugs produce between one and eight eggs daily. Since you can’t feel the bite of a bed bug, homeowners should be aware of inflamed bites with clusters or rows. Inspect your surroundings carefully when traveling to avoid bringing bed bugs home with you.

The Billion Dollar Chew: Termites Eat Through Homes and Businesses

Each year, termites cause billions of dollars in damage, and homeowner’s insurance will not cover the cost of treatment.

These invisible destroyers cause more damage in the U.S. than storms, fires and floods combined. The National Pest Management Association estimates that termites are responsible for $5 billion in property damage every year.

While you sleep, termites may literally eat you out of house and home and even your business. And while they eat 24 hours a day, their damage is insidious because you usually do not see them or the damage they cause until it’s too late. Termites are known for their industriousness and can always find a way into your home, whether the structure is made of wood or concrete.

Homeowners might notice termites when they swarm around spring time, a likely sign of infestation. But they can swarm in both the spring and fall, anytime the environmental conditions are right.

The U.S. is home to many species of termites, the most common being Subterranean and Drywood termites.

Subterranean Termites tunnel in the soil. The ability to tunnel allows them to find and feed on countless pieces of wood. This mobility also allows them to create much bigger colonies than those of wood inhabiting species. A Subterranean termite colony can have hundreds of thousands to several million members working in a caste system.

Drywood Termites can cause serious damage to houses and furniture. These termites are easier to spot because they produce coarse sand-like fecal pellets that can be spotted long before you discover the termites themselves. The Drywood termite not only eats the wood structure, but lives inside the wood structure. These insects will construct a virtual city within the wood, complete with connecting tunnels to get around it. They can enter the home by flying in or being carried on previously infested wood, such as furniture or construction materials.

Preventing termites is as important as exterminating them. A termite prevention program should include the following elements:

  • A professional inspection done at least once a year. The potential damage is too great to rely on “do-it-yourself” methods.
  • An ongoing preventive system including sodium borate-based materials, which can be painted, sprayed, or spread onto the wood, or injected into hollow spaces inside the walls of the home.
  • Having your pest control professional establish an “early warning system” that detects termites in the soil before they reach the home itself. Many systems establish bait stations around the perimeter of the home to detect the approach of termites while they are still several feet away.

By taking the necessary precautions, you can help prevent your home from becoming a termite’s permanent residence.

Pests to look out for in the early spring

Warmer weather introduces new challenges in terms of pest control. As winter wears on and spring approaches, homeowners may want to check for signs of infestations.

Ants
Carpenter ants are a common issue in the spring. They are more than just a nuisance- they are known to cause structural damage in homes. Spotting one or two ants isn’t indicative of a nest, but homeowners would still benefit from checking for their presence. Ants tend to congregate near the spot that they entered the building. The SnoValley Star suggests looking around where wiring comes through the wall, around windows in the basement, and small, out of the way spaces. Carpenter ants are known to nest in wood, and can often be found in walls and ceilings.

Wasps
Wasp nests can also pose a new threat in the springtime. The University of Michigan warns that yellow jackets tend to nest in attics, walls, and under eaves. The only way to verify an infestation is if the insects are spotted flying in and out of a crack in the walls. Paper wasps, one of the more common species, are typically found on horizontal surfaces such as beams, overhangs and supports in places such as attics, garages and tool sheds. Both types of wasps gravitate toward quiet, out​-of-the-way areas, but can be dangerous if they choose to stay in the walls of a home.

If a nest is spotted, but no wasps were seen in the area, it’s possible that the nest is dead or inactive. Wasps only use their nests for one season, so it may be that the nest is not in use. It’s better to have an exterminator come and look at the nest before attempting to remove it, however, to avoid the risk of getting stung.

Termites
One of the most common pests early on in spring is the termite. These pests are nearly impossible to spot, and the best method of prevention is to have a house inspection each spring. According to Business Wire, they can chew through most flooring materials in addition to wallpaper, making them able to invade a home with ease. Tips for termite control include keeping the areas around a house’s foundation dry, keeping holes sealed and stacking lumber away from structures.

Ask an exterminator agency to send a professional to evaluate the risk of pests for your home if you’re concerned about infestations as spring approaches.

Termites terrorize Texas

Swarming termites were a disconcerting sight for many San Antonio residents this holiday season, states amateur scientist Forrest Mims in an article for San Antonio Express-News.

Several days before Christmas, Mims noticed flying insects on his property. Upon approaching the swarm, he noticed a patch of ground below it covered in a rippling, shimmering white film, he writes. What he was looking at was actually a thousand winged termites, which then suddenly  took off into the air.

While termites serve an important purpose in nature eating up dead tree particles, they’re a major nuisance for residents. There are a variety of termite species and most share the commonality of destroying wood and causing severe damage for homeowners.

Subterranean termites live in underground colonies that can contain up to 2 million members, according to the National Pest Management Association. They build mud or soil tubes in the ground around exposed concrete foundation, which homeowners should be aware of when expecting their property for signs of an infestation.

Meanwhile, drywood termites rarely come into contact with the soil and live in dry wood, as their name implies. They can also cause serious structural damage.

If residents suspects termites on their property, they should contact a pest management professional promptly.

Tree termites terrorize Florida residents

State officials are taking action against nasutitermes corniger, a Caribbean species of termites that is destroying trees, walls and ceilings throughout South Florida.

Unlike many of their relatives, nasutitermes corniger build basketball-sized nests above ground and dig visible brown tunnels on the sides of houses, which can cause serious damage for homeowners. While Department of Agriculture officials thought they eradicated the pests when they first turned up in Dania Beach in 2001, the termites showed up again last year, according to Sun Sentinel.

The organization is currently planning pest control initiatives to eradicate the species before spring, when nasutitermes corniger fly around to form new colonies and increase their populations.

Barbara Thorne is a professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and is helping plan the campaign.

"Certainly all of South Florida could be at risk, up into Central Florida," Thorne told the newspaper. "Once this gets out, there will be no containing it, ever. So we're trying to deal with this now."

While a similar campaign took place last year, officials said it wasn't as successful as they had hoped.

Nasutitermes corniger, or tree termites, which are native to rainforests, are beneficial to their home environment because they eat dead wood on the exterior of trees. However, these pests can wreak havoc in residential areas. They destroy outer frameworks and materials used to build walls and structures. Tree termites can also severely damage roofs. Often, wood infested by this species requires replacement. To avoid mounting renovation costs, homeowners should contact a pest control professional promptly if they suspect tree termites.  

Spotting an infestation
While a ballooning nest may be an obvious sign of infestation, the early starts of a nasutitermes corniger population can be difficult to detect, as they build large colonies before establishing a home. These bugs present an especially serious threat because they don't nest underground or compete for space resources with other termite species. A home is therefore at risk of infestations from above and below, Department of Agriculture officials explained to Sun Sentinel.

Florida officials say pest control experts are able to identify these critters. If residents spot insects around their house, they can put a sample in a bag and bring it to an exterminator for evaluation. Tree termites are about 3 to 4 millimeters in length and have cream-colored bodies and dark brown heads.

Homeowners who suspect a nest or tunnels on their property should take a picture and show it to a professional as soon as possible. One expert told The Miami Herald tree termite nests often resemble wasp nests.

Protecting the home
There are several measures residents can take to protect their home from a tree termite invasion. As they come from a tropical climate, nasutitermes corniger are attracted by moisture and humidity. While wetness may be difficult to control on outside walls, residents can ensure their roofs aren't leaky and repair any water damage immediately following rainfall.

Because these termites forage on the ground, homeowners may also consider monitoring moisture in their yard and eliminating brush buildup to prevent any potential problems with the bugs.

Know your termites

Termite infestations may be one of the most costly pest infestations for homeowners. Known as “silent destroyers,” these bugs often act undetected, destroying wood, flooring and even wallpaper. The ruin they cause with their saw-like teeth costs Americans $5 billion in property damage every year, according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). Because many insurers do not cover termite damage, it’s critical to bring in an exterminator early on to limit damage.

Termites are often found in unexpected places. Subterranean pests can destroy plastic plumbing pipes and swimming pool lines or even collapse an entire building. To safeguard property, homeowners should understand which termite species their property may be exposed to. Because there are different varieties of these insects, they can cause many types of damage. However, pest control can be relatively easy if termites are found early on.

Dampwood termites
These brown critters are attracted to moisture. While they are unlikely to be found in structures, water damage or leaky pipes should be treated immediately to avoid luring dampwood termites in. The NPMA states they’re often found in Pacific coastal regions, semi-arid states in the Southwest and southern Florida.

Homeowners should reduce humidity in crawl spaces with clean ventilation to avoid creating an inviting environment for dampwood termites. These bugs should also be on the radar of homeowners on the East Coast who experienced damage during Hurricane Sandy.

Drywood termites
As their name implies, drywood termites infest dry wood and can ravage attic framings, according to the NPMA. These light brown bugs do not need soil to survive and can form colonies of up to 2,500 members. Because they prefer a dry climate, they are most often reported between South Carolina and Texas and in parts of California.

Subterranean termites
These pests are the most menacing of the 2,500 termite species. They live underground or in moist secluded areas with colony populations that can reach 2 million. They build mud tubes to access food and to protect themselves from open air,according to the NPMA, and these tunnels may be one of the first signs of a pest problem in a home. Subterranean termites vary in size and most are cream-colored or brown.

Formosans, which are a breed of subterranean termites, are extremely troublesome because they are aggressive and nest quietly inside building walls. After this type of pest is discovered, it needs to be eliminated immediately, as colonies can be extremely destructive.

To avoid problems with subterranean termites, the NPMA suggests maintaining a one-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of buildings, but residents need to be on the lookout for other signs of pest invasions. Often, a termite infestation begins with swarmers, or pests looking to develop a new colony. Upon first sight of these winged bugs, homeowners should contact an exterminator to prevent structural damage and the expenses associated with severe termite infestations.

The tell-tale signs of termites

A termite infestation can be a homeowner's worst nightmare. The thought of the pests eating away at your home can send anyone into a panic. Termites need to be treated by a pest control professional as soon as the problem is noticed, or they can cause serious and expensive damage to your house. Noticing a problem early can be tricky, but there are small signs to look out for if you live in an area prone to termite damage. Once an infestation is confirmed, an exterminator can recommend the best form of treatment.

Swarms
Swarms are usually the first thing a homeowner notices when termites invade a home. When termites take flight from their colony to establish a new home, they are often found near windows or in bright areas. Finding a swarm in your home is an indication that a termite colony is nearby – perhaps even in your home.

Tunnels and tubes
Termites build tubes made of mud to travel into a home. These thin tunnels assist them in moving around when they are unable to burrow through a material while looking for food. They can be found in a variety of places, including near the foundation of a home, and in an attic or basement. The exposed tubes can be a good indication your home is at risk of an infestation, if it doesn't already have one.

Bugs
If you're worried about a termite area in a specific location around your home, it is advisable to see if any bugs are visible in the area. Places that are often wet, like around an air conditioner or swimming pool, or spots that have direct soil-to-wood contact, such as decks and fences, should be closely examined. Remove damaged wood or mulch from the area and check for any bugs.

Wings
Some homeowners may find termite wings left behind after the pests swarm. This normal behavior can be a strong sign that an infestation is present. These wings can be found where the termites exit the colony, near windows, or any other areas the termites may try to exit the home.

Damaged wood
A huge indicator of a termite problem is finding damaged wood. Wood that sounds hollow when tapped could be damaged, and should be investigated. If it is visibly rotting, it could be a draw for termites and should be examined and replaced.