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Which Structural Woods Do Termites Prefer To Infest Within Homes

Which Structural Woods Do Termites Prefer To Infest Within Homes, And How Do Subterranean And Drywood Termites Know Which Wood Sources Provide Optimal Nourishment?

Several damaging species of subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites infest homes and buildings all year round in Arizona. Species from both the dampwood and drywood termite groups live in colonies that are contained entirely within single above-ground wood items. Generally, drywood termites establish infestations within sources of sound and dry wood, and this is especially the case when it comes to the western drywood termite, which is the most destructive drywood termite pest species in the country.

Unlike drywood termites, dampwood termites establish infestations exclusively within decayed wood items that have become heavily saturated with moisture. Due to their preference for feeding on rotting and waterlogged wood sources, dampwood termites are not found infesting structural wood within homes as often as they are found infesting open-air wood sources that have already sustained damage from rainwater. Dampwood termites frequently infest wood fences, utility poles, patio-wood, and occasionally, infestations are found in hardwood flooring located above consistently damp crawl space environments.

Subterranean termites dwell beneath the ground where mature colonies can contain anywhere between 50,000 and two million individual termites, making them much larger than the drywood and dampwood termite colonies found within single pieces of wood. Subterranean termite workers generally infest relatively moist substructural wood components that are located in close proximity to their ground-soil habitat. Workers digest moist and rotting wood more rapidly than sound dry wood, but unlike dampwood termites, subterranean termites do not rely solely on moist wood for their water needs, as workers can return to the moist soil in order to hydrate as needed.

Since pest species from all three termite groups feed within interior wood cavities where they remain hidden from view, infested wood usually appears undamaged. However, termite damaged wood will produce a hollow sound when tapped, and the surface of heavily infested wood will collapse in response to exterior pressure. Drywood termite nymphs possess particularly strong and durable jaws that allow them to chew into dense and hard summerwood portions of lumber as well as softer springwood portions. Subterranean termite workers, on the other hand, cannot readily chew into summerwood, and they also have a difficult time digesting hard wood particles. Subterranean termites are usually found infesting sill plates, beams, joists and other moist substructural lumber components near the ground-soil, but drywood termite infestations can be found anywhere on a home’s interior timber-frame or exterior wood paneling. Drywood termite alates frequently initiate new colonies within attics, behind wood siding, and below roof shingles. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termite infestations are also commonly found in wood furniture.

Have you ever discovered a drywood termite infestation within wood furniture?

 

 

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How Does The Government Protect New Homes From Subterranean Termite Attacks In Arizona?

How Does The Government Protect New Homes From Subterranean Termite Attacks In Arizona?

Subterranean termites inflict more property destruction than drywood and dampwood termites in all US states. While two drywood termite species, the dark and light western drywood termites, are economically significant pests of structural wood in Arizona, arid-land and desert subterranean termites are both responsible for the majority of damaging infestations discovered in Arizona homes annually. Unlike drywood and dampwood termites, subterranean termite colonies are located beneath the ground where workers tunnel through soil in search of cellulose-rich food sources, such as dead roots, stumps, sticks, and other forms of fibrous plant matter. In Arizona where suburban developments continue to expand onto open areas of desert land where subterranean termites are abundant, protecting homes from infestations is a must, and a legal requirement.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Veterans Administration of Housing and Urban Development (VA HUD), and state and local laws in Arizona require new homes to undergo preventative termite soil treatments before and/or during construction. Only properly licensed pest control professionals are legally allowed to apply termiticide barrier treatments to soil on properties where homes will be built. State regulation requires pest control companies to control any subterranean termite pest issues that may occur on the properties that they had pretreated for a period of three years following the initial soil termiticide application. If the owners of a new Arizona home wish to have an additional structure built onto their home, such as another room, a patio, or any project that disturbs the soil or involves cutting into the concrete slab, the owners must first notify the pest control company that pre-treated the home. If the owners of an Arizona home experience subterranean termite pest issues on their property within the three year time frame following the initial pre-treatment, they can contact the company that performed the pre-treatment for additional services. If homeowners do not know which pest control company pre-treated their property, the home’s builder or general contractor can provide the necessary information.

Have you ever experienced subterranean termite pest issues after moving into a fairly new home?

 

 

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Due To The Troubling Results Of A Recent Study, The Controversy Concerning Termite Infestations Within Homes That Contain Spray-Foam Insulation Can Now Be Put To Rest

Due To The Troubling Results Of A Recent Study, The Controversy Concerning Termite Infestations Within Homes That Contain Spray-Foam Insulation Can Now Be Put To Rest

Three years ago, American entomologists published reports describing the termite-related hazards associated with the presence of spray polyurethane-foam insulation within homes. This form of insulation is often referred to simply as “spray-foam insulation,” and it is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to typical wall insulation throughout the US. Spray-foam insulation (SFI) is relatively cheap and easy to install within new homes and old homes where original insulation has become warn, ineffective, and in need of replacement. However, SFI may not be the most economical choice in the long run, as numerous urban entomologists, pest control professionals, and inspectors have claimed that the foam hinders their ability to visually detect indoor termite infestations and related wood damage. Therefore, homes containing SFI are vulnerable to termite infestations, as it makes homes next to impossible to inspect, let alone treat.

SFI is applied within crawl spaces, attics and wall voids, which are three indoor areas where termite infestations and associated wood damage is most commonly found. In response to this industry-wide claim on the part of pest control professionals and other experts, the executive director of the Spray Polyurethane-Foam Alliance (SPFA) has claimed that pest control professionals only fail to detect termite infestations within homes containing SFI due to their primitive termite-detection methods. The executive director specifically stated that termite infestations could be effectively detected within SFI homes using acoustic detection devices, microwave devices, infrared monitors, air emission-detectors, and/or termite-sniffing dogs. Since the pest control industry is always interested in adopting more convenient methods of termite-detection within homes, several university and government entomologists had multiple 20 year veterans of the pest control industry inspect an infested basement for termite pests and damage.

One group of pest control professionals were tasked with using typical visual inspection tools to find the termite pests,  while another group relied on the above-mentioned “advanced” inspection tools. With the exception of one moisture meter, which is already a common inspection tool, neither a visual inspection nor an inspection involving the devices led the professionals to the active infestation or damaged wood sites. Also, since subterranean termites thrive in moist conditions, moisture meters may indicate where the pests are most likely located, but a moisture meter alone is not sufficient to detect termite pests. Unsurprisingly, the infestation was rapidly found following the removal of the SFI.

Does your home contain spray-foam insulation?

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The Commonly Overlooked Dampwood Termite Species That Is Known For Damaging Wood Fences And Indoor Flooring

The Commonly Overlooked Dampwood Termite Species That Is Known For Damaging Wood Fences And Indoor Flooring

Nearly 20 termite species have been documented within Arizona, around half of which are known to damage woodwork. The termite species found in Arizona belong to all three groups of termites, which are known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. In the United States as a whole, subterranean termites are by far the most common termite pests of structural wood, as around 80 percent of all infestations reported annually involve subterranean termites. Subterranean termites are also the most common termite pests in Arizona, but multiple drywood species in the state frequently inflict damage to structures as well. The desert and arid-land subterranean termites, and the western and light-western drywood termite species are the most destructive wood-infesting pests in Arizona. However, only one dampwood termite species in Arizona is considered a pest of structural wood.

Paraneotermes simplicicornis, or the “desert dampwood termite,” is not, despite its common name, technically a dampwood termite species, as they belong to the Kalotermitidae family, which are drywood termites. Generally, both drywood and dampwood termite species nest within single wood items located above ground, such as logs, fallen branches, and tree stumps, but the desert dampwood termite species is unique for dwelling within soil where they feed on structural lumber in contact with the ground and roots from both live and dead trees. Since desert dampwood termites can only feed on wood in contact with soil, they rarely inflict damage to structural wood within homes; instead, these termites tend to inflict heavy damage to wood fences, wood posts and dirt-filled porches. That being said, desert dampwood termites have been known to infest wood flooring within old homes that contain lumber components that make ground contact. Swarming alates from desert dampwood termite colonies emerge at around dusk from May through September in Arizona. While these swarms are not necessarily associated with monsoon season, they tend to emerge in the evening after heavy rainstorms.

Have you ever discovered termite damage on your landscape plants?

 

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Where Are Western Drywood Termite Colonies Most Commonly Found Within Urban And Suburban Areas?

Incisitermes minor, or the western drywood termite, as the species is more commonly known, is the most commonly encountered and most destructive drywood termite pest in southern Arizona. Unlike subterranean termite species, which prefer to infest moist and decayed wood, drywood termites are capable of infesting dry and sound wood, just as their name suggests. However, given their desert habitat, western drywood termites have adapted to thrive on wood sources that are particularly dry, making even newly constructed homes vulnerable to attacks by this species. Any structural wood with a moisture content greater than 7 percent can be readily infested by western drywood termites.

In the natural habitat, western drywood termite colonies are most abundant within wooded areas, river washes and canyons where trees can be found. Colonies are frequently recovered from dead portions of willow, cottonwood, oak, and sycamore trees, and these termites are often found infesting tree stumps, logs, and large branches that have fallen to the ground in rural, urban and residential areas. Due to the western drywood termite’s aggressive feeding habits, they are often found infesting natural wood sources on properties, which may afford homeowners adequate time to prevent the destructive pests from establishing an indoor infestation.

On urban and suburban properties where trees are not abundant, western drywood termites are commonly found infesting rose, Pyracantha, and oleander bushes near structures. In urban and suburban areas where trees can be found, these termite pests prefer to feed on alder, almond, apricot, ash, avocado, carob, cherry, citrus, elderberry, mulberry, ornamental pear, peach, plum, and walnut trees. In addition to infesting dry and sound structural lumber within homes, these pests are also frequently found infesting indoor items that are made of finished wood, particularly furniture. In southern Arizona, western drywood termite alates swarm during the months of May through August, and alates are well known for flying through attic vents where they establish colonies within attics and other indoor areas that can be accessed through attics, such as wall voids and ceiling voids.

Are the lumber components in your home treated with chemicals that repel drywood termite pests?

 

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How Do Pest Control Professionals Pinpoint Subterranean Termite Infestations Within Homes, And How Do They Determine If A Home Is Vulnerable To Infestations?

All termite species can be divided into three separate groups known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. As their name suggests, subterranean termites dwell below the ground where workers regularly leave their nest in order to locate food sources. While workers forage through soil, they often stumble upon the base of timber-framed houses located in residential areas. Subterranean termites rely heavily on the constant hydration they receive from moist soil, and exposure to the dry outside air will cause them to dessicate and die. In order to safely access above ground structural wood within homes, workers build airtight “shelter tubes” that connect the moist ground soil with indoor structural wood sources.

Although shelter tubes allow subterranean termites to return to the moist soil whenever they require hydration, subterranean termites generally avoid infesting dry structural wood that is bereft of moisture; instead, subterranean termites prefer to infest structural wood with at least a 20 percent moisture content. During termite inspections, licensed professionals carry a moisture meter, which they use to measure the moisture content of structural wood components. Moisture meters can also be used to measure the moisture content of joists, sills, rafters and other irregularly shaped pieces of wood that are commonly damaged by subterranean termites. Many moisture meters work by inserting pins into wood in order to generate moisture readings, but some meters can remotely measure the moisture content of wood without having to inflict pinholes.

Moisture meters are also useful for gauging the moisture content of the surrounding air. In homes where no moisture problems exist, the moisture content within heated living areas should be between 5 and 10 percent, and between 12 and 19 percent in unheated areas, such as crawl spaces. Moisture readings above 20 percent make homes vulnerable to subterranean termite infestations, and a thorough inspection of wood should be carried out in all indoor areas where moisture levels exceed this figure. In some cases, wood that has become excessively moist must be replaced, and in other cases, setting up a dehumidifier within high-moisture areas within a home can effectively reduce moisture levels. Unusually high moisture levels within homes are often caused by plumbing leaks, improper outdoor drainage systems and rainwater leaks.

Can plumbing or rainwater leaks be found in your home?

 

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How To Know If The Wood In Your Home Was Damaged By Termites Or Ants

How To Know If The Wood In Your Home Was Damaged By Termites Or Ants | Phoenix Pest Control Experts

Termite damage is not always easy to recognize, and they are not the only wood-boring insects that exist. Upon noticing unexplained damage to areas of structural wood, you should first have a termite inspection conducted immediately in order to prevent irreparable damage from occurring. When it comes to wood-boring insects, termites are the last insects that you want infesting your home. When compared to other wood-boring insects, termites cause the greatest degree of structural damages. When a home’s structural damages become extensive enough to clearly indicate a termite infestation, the damage can sometimes be irreversible. Although termites are destructive creatures, they cannot render a home unlivable within a few days; instead, homes become structurally compromised only after long periods of destructive termite activity. Many people whose homes are protected by termite barriers and insecticides may still notice structural damage that indicates a termite presence. When this occurs, many homeowners may assume that they had been ripped-off by a shady exterminator who failed to install effective anti-termite barriers. However, it is far more likely that another type of wood-destroying insect is responsible. Termite poisons and repellents may not be as effective at killing other types of wood-boring insects, this is why it is important to understand the difference between termite damage and damage caused by other forms of destructive insects.

In addition to termites, carpenter ants can also cause damage to the wood in people’s homes. However, only termites are capable of causing damage that is extensive enough to render a home unlivable. No other type of insect can destroy a home’s structural integrity. One difference between the two insects is the type of wood that they are attracted to. Termites excavate wood that is intact and free from rot, such as timber and tree stumps. Carpenter ants, on the other hand, are attracted to wood that has already sustained damage, whether it be from rot or fungus. Carpenter ants, like termites, leave behind noticeable amounts of wood-shavings since they do not consume the wood that they excavate. Although termites consume the wood that they excavate, they can also leave behind wood shavings, albeit far less. In cases where wood destruction makes it hard to determine the type of insect pest responsible, you can instead attempt to locate the insect culprit yourself. Termites and carpenter ants are the same size, and they both swarm. These similarities can make the two different insects hard to discern, but termite workers are pale-colored, and nearly translucent, while carpenter ant workers are reddish or dark in color. Since termites consume wood, they often remain unseen within hollowed sections of wood, but carpenter ants can often be spotted foraging for food within people’s homes, as they do not consume the wood that they excavate from structural timber.

Do you know of any other type of insect species, besides termites and ants, that are capable of inflicting damage to timber structures?

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Termite Warning Signs | Phoenix Termite Control

Termite Warning Signs | Phoenix Termite Control

Magic Pest offers the following signs that termites may be present in a home:

  1. Mud tubes (used by termites to reach a food source) on the exterior of the home.
  2. Soft wood in the home that sounds hollow when tapped.
  3. Darkening or blistering of wood structures.
  4. Cracked or bubbling paint.
  5. Small piles of feces that resemble sawdust near a termite nest.
  6. Discarded wings near doors or on windowsills, indicating swarmers have entered the home or swarmers themselves, which are often mistaken for flying ants.

Phoenix Termite Control Experts. Call Today For A Free Inspection!

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Exterminating Drywood Termites

Exterminating Drywood Termites With Microwaves That Boil The Insect’s Internal Bodily Fluids

These days a lot of research goes into developing new pest control methods that can effectively kill cryptic insect pest species that sometimes survive traditional pest control treatments. This is certainly the case when it comes to eliminating invasive insect pests, such as red-imported fire ants, tawny crazy ants, and Formosan subterranean termites. However, several native insect pests remain extremely difficult to eliminate from infested homes despite significant advances in pest control technology. Termites are the most common insect pests that remain a challenge to eradicate from infested homes, and this is especially the case when it comes to drywood termite species.

Subterranean termites have long been the most common and the most economically damaging group of wood-infesting pests in the US, as well as the rest of the world. All termites are divided into three groups that are known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. As pests of economic importance, dampwood termites are largely insignificant, while subterranean termites inflict 80 percent of all termite damage per year within the US. The other 20 percent of property damage is mostly inflicted by drywood termite species. Considering the high cost of subterranean termite pest activity, it is in the best interest of pest control researchers to focus on eradicating and preventing subterranean termite infestations as opposed to drywood termite infestations. That being said, the southwest US is the only region of the country that sees a disproportionate amount of drywood termite damage to houses and finished wood items.

Subterranean termite infestations can be prevented with termiticide and physical barriers that are applied beneath the ground-soil surrounding properties, and infested homes rarely contain more than one colony nesting site within structural wood. Drywood termites, on the other hand, can nest deep within structural wood and they can establish multiple colonies within a home. Currently, whole-structure fumigation is the preferred method of drywood termite eradication within homes, and several spot-treatment methods have been put to use with varying results. One bizarre spot-treatment that is used by very few pest control professionals involves placing a microwave emitting device against a wall in order to cook drywood termites nesting within structural wood in wall voids. This method causes the fluids within the cells of termites to boil, which destroys cell membranes and rapidly results in death. Unfortunately, the heat from these devices may damage wallpaper, plaster and structural wood.

Have you ever had your home fumigated for a drywood termite infestation?

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What Are The Pros And Cons Of The Most Common Drywood Termite Treatments?

What Are The Pros And Cons Of The Most Common Drywood Termite Treatments?

There are two drywood termite species in Arizona that are considered to be of major economic importance. The most destructive drywood termite species in the state is known as the dark western drywood termite, and the other is the light western drywood termite, which is also known as the southern drywood termite. Drywood termite infestations are difficult to prevent, detect and treat because, unlike subterranean termites that infest homes from the soil, drywood termites infest structures while they swarm. Therefore, drywood termites can start an infestation in any area of a home, including wood located beneath shingles. After drywood termite swarmers (alates) infest external wood sources on a home they often tunnel their way into internal structural woods.

While subterranean termites infest structural wood around a home’s foundation before possibly moving to higher points, drywood termite infestations can occur in areas of a home where infested wood cannot be accessed. There is little a homeowner can do to prevent drywood termite infestations, but using chemically treated and/or pressure treated wood as lumber to build a home can effectively repel drywood termites for a period of time. There exists several ways in which a home is treated for a drywood termite infestation, and while all commonly used methods are effective at eliminating infestations, each method has its pros and cons.

The most popular method of treating drywood termite infestations is full structure fumigation. This method is especially necessary when a pest control professional cannot easily access infested areas of a home, or when an infested home is hosting multiple colonies that may not all be accounted for. The only drawback to fumigation is that it does not prevent future infestations. Another method involves heating a home to 124 degrees for a period of at least 30 minutes. This method is preferred by some, but whole structure heat treatments may damage certain items, but simply removing such items, like vinyl records, will prevent unwanted damage. Researchers are currently exploring biological drywood termite control agents in an effort to develop an optimal form of drywood termite control.

Have you ever needed a fumigation?