Termites are some of the most destructive pests there is. A termite infestation can cause structural damage to you home and cost thousands to repair. Often times homeowners have no idea they have a termite problem until it is too late which is why it is important to get a termite inspection on your home every one to three years. However there are a few tips to spot a termite problem for those of us who are not trained experts.
Swarmers or discarded wings, which are young female and male termites will emerge in the springtime often times leaving their discarded wings near windowsills and doorways. Spotting the discarded wings is one big clue that you might have termites.
Mud tubes are built by termites to provide moisture between their colony and food source and are often times found near the foundation of a home. It is important to look out for mud tubes at your homes foundation because if present they are a sign of subterranean termites which are the most destructive termite species.
Wood damage is the most common sign of termites in a home. Wood that sounds hollow when tapped on, or that looks dark or blistering is what homeowners should look for when trying to spot termites. Additionally cracked or bubbling paint in a home is another sign to look for when looking for termites in your home.
One other way to spot termites in your home is frass. Frass is the light, wood colored droppings that termites leave behind. Specifically if you find a small pile of what looks like sawdust in your home you might be dealing with termites.
If you find any of these signs of termites in your home it is important to contact a local expert before the termite infestation causes any more damage to your home.
Man may have created the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Great Wall of China, the Empire State building but termites are capable of building mounds so resilient that one is over 2,000 years old!
The termite mound was discovered in the Miombo woodland area of central Africa and measured in at 33 feet tall, complete with termite 'air conditioning'. Experts estimate that the mound is about 2,200 years old and was in use for hundreds if not thousands of years.
The only other ancient termite mound that comes close in age is one that has been dated 750 years old. Both ancient termite mounds were built by Macrotermes falciger, a native termite to the Miombo Woods in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The mounds were analyzed using carbon 14 dating, which is also a technique used to date bones and other natural artifacts. Moreover, researchers from the Ghent University in Belgium and the University of Lubumbashi gathered in the Democratic Republic of Congo to conduct the analysis.
Quite interesting, I just hope my regular Cincinnati pest control doesn't include carbon dating any termite mounds!
Can you prevent a termite infestation?
The termite is famous for destroying American homes. This tiny creature is single-handedly responsible for five billion dollars in property damage each year in the U.S.
Dr. Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist at the National Pest Management Association, hands out some valuable tips for banishing this destructive beast from your residence.
Termites come in two varieties: subterranean and dry wood. The latter are found from Virginia through Florida, parts of the southwest and northern pacific coast and Hawaii. The former are found everywhere.
The key in controlling termites is to keep them away from your home’s foundation.
Subterranean termites are attracted to moisture. To prevent their appearance, Dr Fredericks give several practical tips: remove standing water and investigate damp spots, keep water away from the foundation of the home, repair leaky water pipes and faucets, and eliminate moisture from attics and crawl spaces. Termites also like wood, so woodpiles should be kept away from the foundation. To prevent these bugs from getting into the home, any mulches used in the yard should be separated from the foundation by a stone barrier at least 18 inches wide. Mulches will be appealing to termites, so consider using an alternative ground cover like straw or rocks.
Websites like PestWorld.org are also a great resource for educating yourself about how these bugs operate. By knowing their habits, you can protect one of your most valuable assets: your home.
Queen of the Stink Bugs Turns Passion Into Art
In Pennsylvania, there is a woman toiling away to bring stink bugs into a new light. She has discovered the many virtues of using these critters in paintings, jewelry, pendants, and more.
Maryel Henderson has been making art for decades, and has always been interested in the natural world. Prior to exploring stink bugs as a medium, she painted portraits of animals in non-native habitats, like polar bears in swimming pools or lizards on ceiling fans.
But she is now known, at least by her husband, as the “stink bug whisperer.” She experimented with using the shell of the stinkbug – a familiar yet unique shape that resembles a shield – on pendants. These sold well, and she’s branched out into a wider array of stink bug art. This month, Henderson has opened a new art space at Marketview Arts in York, PA, where she will display the gamut of stink bug creations.
The work ranges in price from $40 to $900, depending on the piece and size. Larger paintings go for more money, but stink art pendants start at less than $50.
Henderson can’t fully explain her love of stink bugs, but notes that it may have to do simply with their vulnerability and individuality. "They're just clumsy and cute and awkward, and they kind of walk around like they're going through life minding their own business," she said.
Here’s a handy room-by-room guide of specific things to do to keep pests at bay this spring.
Ants, among other common pests, are known to infest kitchen spaces because this room provides easy access to food and water sources. They often march one-by-one through the heart of the home while searching for crumbs left behind from dinner, sticky residue from liquid spills and overripe fruit sitting out on the countertop. Although you may make a concerted effort to keep the kitchen clean on a daily basis, there are still a few other projects you can do to make it less attractive to pests.
First, remove all of the items from your cabinets and pantry. Go through them and discard of stale spices and other dated items such as flour. These baking ingredients attract pantry pests, including several types of beetles, Indian meal moths and ants. Next, wipe down the inside of your cabinets and install fresh shelf paper. Then, pull out your appliances from the wall as much as possible and vacuum behind them. You might be surprised how much dust, dirt and crumbs you find! Lastly, give the kitchen counter and floor a good scrub-down. Wash them with a sponge and a squirt of dishwashing liquid mixed in a bucket of warm water.
Many pests like cockroaches and silverfish are attracted to moisture, so they are commonly found in bathrooms. Eliminating sources of water in the bathroom is the best way to prevent pest infestations, especially because this pest can only survive for one week without water. In addition to washing the shower curtain and liner, and cleaning out the medicine cabinet, you should check under the sink and around the tub and toilet to ensure there are no moisture issues from leaky pipes or faucets.
Rodents, spiders and a slew of other pests can make themselves at home in the basement. The main reason that pests often take up refuge in this underground space is because this room tends to harbor dark corners and clutter, which provides the ideal place for rodents and spiders to hide. Take some time to go through your valuables and eliminate clutter where possible. Steer clear from using cardboard boxes to store items, using plastic bins with secure lids instead. You should also be sure to seal any cracks or crevices with a silicone-based caulk that pests could use to enter your home. Remember, mice can fit through an opening the size of a dime and other small insects need only a paper-thin crack to gain entry.
Once you complete your list of tasks inside, conduct an audit of your home’s perimeter, taking stock of any damage done over the winter months. Start on the roof by repairing fascia and rotted roof shingles, as some insects are drawn to deteriorating wood. Then, clean out clogged gutters and downspouts to ensure they are properly functioning before the April showers roll in. You may also find you need to repair ripped screens, replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the foundation and windows.
When landscaping, don’t forget to trim bushes and branches away from the home to prevent easy access for pests to move indoors. Also, remove rotted tree stumps and keep mulch at least 15 inches away from the home’s foundation – both of which could be magnets for termites.
The Bottom Line
The arrival of warm weather brings with it a renewed energy needed to tackle home improvements. Take advantage of this to maintain a healthy living environment for your family and deter pests from infesting your living space this spring.
Perfection Pest ( Kentucky Pest Control Eperts) celebrates the important role of pest professionals
This April, Perfection Pest is proud to celebrate National Pest Management Month, a public observance formally recognized each year by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) to acknowledge the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health and property from household pest threats. Additionally, as spring is an especially busy time for pest-related activity, Perfection Pest encourages homeowners to take proactive pest proofing steps in the coming weeks.
“We are proud to be members of an industry which plays an important role in people’s everyday lives and are committed to helping homeowners protect their homes and ensuring public places and residences are free of disease-carrying pests,” said Tim Leatherman, Owner at Perfection Pest.
“As pests emerge from their overwintering spots, we encourage the public to tackle simple home improvement and landscaping projects that will make a big difference in staving off infestations during the warmer months,” added Leatherman.
Perfection Pest Experts recommend the following tips to pest-proof the home this spring:
- Seal any cracks on the outside of the home with a silicone-based caulk, including entry points for utilities and pipes.
- Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the foundation and windows.
- Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed and away from the house.
- Repair fascia and rotted roof shingles.
- Keep mulch at least 15 inches from the foundation.
- Eliminate sources of standing water around the house, including birdbaths and in clogged gutters.
- Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
- Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
- Avoid leaving pet’s food dishes out for long periods of time.
- Contact a licensed pest professional if an infestation is suspected.
For more information on common household pests or more pest-proofing tips, please visit www.perfectionpest.com
What can a homeowner do to prevent termites?
- The most common types of termites love moisture, if you have any moisture around the foundation of your home, take steps to remove the moisture and eliminate the source.
- Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
- Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation.
- Prevent shrubs, vines and other vegetation from growing over and covering vents.
- Be sure to remove old form boards, grade stakes, etc., left in place after the building was constructed. Remove old tree stumps and roots around and beneath the building. Most importantly, eliminate any wood contact with the soil. An 18-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building is ideal.
- It doesn’t hurt to routinely inspect the foundation of your home for signs of termite damage.
What should a homeowner look for when selecting a PCO?
- A qualified and licensed pest management company that is a member of national, state or local pest management associations.
- Ask friends and neighbors to recommend companies they have used successfully.
- Buy value, not price.
- Before signing a contract, be sure to fully understand the nature of the pest to be controlled, the extent of the infestation, and the work necessary to solve the problem.
- Find out if the company has liability insurance to cover any damages to your house or furnishings during treatment.
- If a guarantee is given, know what it covers, how long it lasts, what you must do to keep it in force, and what kind of continuing prevention and management are necessary.