Shaniqua Davis

Shaniqua Davis

It’s spring, and termites are swarming. I noticed a swarm outside in a tree close to my house and with this comes a chance for termites to invade not only homes but businesses in Texas.

There are two major groups of subterranean termites, natives and Formosan, that make Texas their home.

Native subterranean termites have already swarmed down South where the weather has already warmed up, and now it is swarming season in Central and North Texas.

The subterranean termite is considered the most destructive insect wood pests in the U.S., causing more than $2 billion in damage each year. They cause more damage than fire and windstorms.

Native subterranean termites live in nests or colonies in the soil and feed on dead trees and brush. You may see swarms when land is cleared off for development termites will make this their new home and attach the structure if precautions are not taken.

In nature, subterranean termites also are beneficial. They break down dead trees and other wood materials that would otherwise accumulate. The breakdown process is recycled to the soil as humus.

These insects enter buildings through wood in direct contact with the soil. They will shelter tubes directly through cracks or joints in and under foundations.

The primary native subterranean termite which is swarming now is coal black to yellow-brown, about one-fourth to three-eighths of an inch in length with distinctive wings.

The other species of termite is the Formosan termite, which swarms in the summer. They swarm at night from early May through June and are attracted to lights.This termite has only been in Texas for a little more than 50 years

This termite is yellowish-brown, about a half-inch long. They have a dense covering of gold to reddish hair on their transparent wings. The outer most veins in the wings are parallel to each other, with few cross vein.

Formosan termites construct their primary nests in the soil with fecal material and cellulose called “carton”. When they infest a structure, they can form an aerial nest with this carton in the wall spaces if moisture is available.

Formosan workers feed on wood in structures and also on living plants. They have been known to attack more than 50 tree species, including pecan, citrus, wild cherry, cherry laurel, sweet gum, cedar, willow, wax myrtle, Chinese elm and white oak

When searching for food and moisture, Formosan termites, like other subterranean termites, may chew through non-cellulose material such as asphalt, plaster, rubber and plastic. Their damage can result in home fires caused by electrical shorts.

If termites are found swarming around or inside a home, don’t panic, advise entomologist specialist.

“Termites usually work slowly, so your house will generally not collapse or be ruined overnight,” he said.

Follow these steps:

– Take the time to learn more about termites, their biology, inspection techniques and treatment options.

– Do not permit anyone to rush you into buying termite control services. Take the time you need to make an informed decision.

– If you are unsure about termites being present, arrange for a thorough termite inspection with a licensed, reputable company.

Ask for inspections from three or more companies. Ask for recommendations from your friends and neighbors. This is the best way to get an honest opinion about a termite control service.

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— Shaniqua Davis is the Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources for Gregg County. Email: Shaniqua.Davis@ag.tamu.edu .