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What are Termites?
Termites are small insects that are sometimes mistaken for ants. They eat wood and cellulose fiber and play an important role in the breakdown of these materials so that other plants and animals might more easily consume them. There are many varieties of termites throughout our country. In Pennsylvania, it is the eastern subterranean termite that is by far the most common. Although most of the time termites stay out of our way, occasionally they build their nests near and eat the wood of our homes.


Where do They Live?
Termites live in the soil where they obtain most of the moisture they require in order to survive. They eat the wood and plant materials located within the soil around their nest. It does not take long for them to begin exploring other territories. Dead trees and other cellulose material on the grounds surface begin to serve as their food.
Their two primary enemies are the ant and lack of moisture. To protect themselves, whenever they are exposed to the air, they build clay tunnels to travel in, or they stay inside the safety of dead wood and similar material. One might see these tunnels in the woods running across newly fallen trees or over rocks.

Will Termites Invade My Home?

Occasionally, Eastern Subterranean termites will build a nest adjacent to a house and begin to feed on the wood materials of the house. They do not suddenly appear and destroy the house structure in a few months. It takes years for a termite colony to become established and many more to gain entrance to a house and initiate the destruction. For this reason a careful homeowner can often prevent major damage long before it might occur.


How Can I Identify Termite Activity?

One way to spot termite activity is to discover the location of their clay tunnels. These can often be seen on the inside or outside of the house foundation. They also might run over metal fence posts, stone or extend mid air from the earth to the underside of a crawl space joist. Termite damaged wood has ribbon like voids parallel to the grain. Often, evidence of the clay tunnels will be seen where the insects cross voids in the wood. If a tunnel is found, take a very small piece of the tunnel away and if it is active a fierce soldier termite will show his jaws. Termites can be observed in the spring when many grow wings and fly. After a short period of swarming they will fall back to the ground and dig underground to start a new nest. They are not a concern as long as they are well away from your home. Flying termites inside the home suggest nests nearby or underneath the home. Anytime swarms of insects are found in or around your home, the insects should be identified.



Subterranean Soldier
Termites Swrarming

Termites in MacungiePA  


What is the Difference Between a Termite and an Ant?

Termites differ from ants in that their bodies only have one segment, while an ant has three - with a very thin abdomen. While both insects sometimes develop four wings and swarm, the wings of termites are of equal size, while those of an ant are not. Finally, termite antenna are reasonably straight while an ants antenna is sharply bent.



If Termites are Active in My Home - How Do I get rid of Them?

Pesticides remain the prevalent way to provide protection against these insects. Generally, the pesticides are injected into the walls and ground around the entire perimeter of the house. An active termite tunnel can be treated with a chemical for the soldiers to carry back to the nest where all the colony will be exterminated. That is why you should not disturb a termite tunnel and cause them to run and hide. Pesticides are usually not employed if there are no signs of termite activity. The chemicals used today are safer than previous chemicals and if needed, the costs are reasonable.


How Can I Protect my Home from Termites?

After termites swarm and fall to the ground, they will burrow under and attempt to set up a new colony. Most do not survive, you can increase their odds of failure if you use some common sense methods of protecting your home from termites if you...

  • Remove all wooden materials that are unnecessary for daily life and keep them a safe distance from your home. Termites love wood, so any pieces of wood left lying around will attract them.
  • Keep potential areas where moisture can build up well away from your home. Termites also love moisture and high humidity. Avoid occurrences of water leakage, buildup of rainwater or other situations where water can be collected near the foundation.
  • Periodically check for cracks or holes in your house and foundation. If you find openings, seal them up.
  • In the late winter and spring look for swarming insects. You can also find broken wings on window sills and other flat surfaces. Catch a few and have them identified.

A termite inspection is a valuable tool in helping to determine if your home has active termites. This type of inspection costs very little and can give warning in the unlikely event that these insects are sharing a home with you.