TERMITES

termites
termites

TERMITES

Termites are social insects, living in large colonies consisting of many workers, soldiers and reproductive forms. They live sometimes in elaborate nests, some build nests on moist dead tree stumps, while others build subterranean nests, which in many cases have mounds that may reach 2 m in height. They forage away from the nest protected through underground tunnels or under soil-covered tunnels. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

Termites feed on dead plant material, such as wood, leaf litter, roots, dead herbs and grasses, dung, and humus. Some termites are able to digest cellulose (wood) with the assistance of symbiotic (mutually beneficial) bacteria present in the gut of the termites. Other termites use the cellulose to cultivate fungi that are then eaten.

Termites are small insects that live in colonies and have distinct castes and feed on wood or other dead plant matter, occurring on every continent. Termites comprise the infraorder Isoptera, or alternatively the epifamily termitoidae, within the order Blattodea.

Termites are wood eaters and they can cause significant damage to homes and other wooden structures. There are three different types of termites: drywood, subterranean, and damp wood. Because of their different habitats and behaviors, specific control measures are used for each type of termite.

TERMITE LIFECYCLE

Eggs hatch into tiny larvae, which are incapable of feeding on their own and are raised by specialised workers of the colony. Larvae are capable to develop into any caste (workers, soldiers or reproductive forms), depending on time of year, diet etc. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

Workers are whitish, wingless and usually blind. They have pale yellow round heads. They comprise the bulk of the population. Workers feed all the dependent castes. They also dig tunnels, locate food and water and build and repair the nest.

The soldiers are whitish, wingless and blind; they are larger than the workers and have large, brownish heads and strong jaws. With their specialized defensive weaponry, the role of the soldiers is to protect the colony against numerous predators such as ants and centipedes.

The reproductive termites are winged and are known as alates. Numerous winged males and females, generally dark in color and with well-developed eyes, are produced for swarming. Swarming is often at dusk after the onset of heavy rains. After flying, they shed off their wings, mate, and burrow into holes in the soil and cracks in wood to found a new colony. The queen termite typically develops an enormously distended abdomen. At her peak, a queen will be laying an egg every 3 seconds or 30 000 a day in some species; and she will lay tens of millions of eggs during her life.

TERMITE DAMAGE

Termites primarily feed on wood, but some species collect green grasses and seeds and store these in their granaries inside their nest as food reserves. They are sporadic pests, and locally are important on a wide range of crops. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

Some termites eat into the taproots of young plants e.g. cotton and groundnut immediately below the soil surface, destroying the central root portions, and fill the resulting cavities with soil. Damaged plants wilt and may die within a few days particularly under drought conditions. Some termites also attack the roots of maize and sorghum, and the damaged plants topple. Termites may also travel up through the roots into the trunk and branches. They eventually disrupt the movement of nutrients and water through the vascular system resulting in death of the plant.

TYPES OF TERMITES

Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya. There are nearly 2,000 termite species in the world. Even though there are so many different species, they all fall into one of these main types:

  • Drywood termites

  • Dampwood termites

  • Subterranean termites

  • Formoson termites

  • Conehead termites

DRYWOOD TERMITES

What are Drywood Termites?

Drywood termites are a termite species known for thriving in hard, dry wood found inside a home. This includes structural timbers as well as furniture, picture frames and banisters. They do not make colonies under the soil – instead, they make their way into the wood and are able to extract necessary water from the wood they ingest. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

SIGNS OF DRYWOOD TERMITE INFESTATION

Because they live in the wood they excavate, it can be difficult to identify when drywood termite treatment is necessary. Swarms of termites or discarded wings are a common sign of an infestation, especially near light sources. Drywood termite droppings are another telltale sign. Drywood termite droppings look like small mounds of tiny pellets that are also called frass.

DRYWOOD TERMITE HABITS

Drywood termites form colonies of up to 2,500 members. Unlike subterranean termite species, drywood termite colonies do not have a worker caste, as the work is done by immature termites before they reach adulthood. You may see drywood termite swarmer’s on sunny, warm days after a sudden rise in temperature. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

Drywood termites infest dry wood, like that found in attic framings. They can be transported to new locations via an infested piece of furniture, a picture frame, etc. Drywood termite swarmer’s can also extend infestations to new locations.

DRYWOOD TERMITE THREATS

Drywood termites can chew through almost anything made of cellulose, including support beams, floors and walls, causing expensive home repairs. In fact, dry wood termites and other termite species cause a collective much money in property damage each year – a cost typically not covered by homeowners’ insurance. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

DRYWOOD TERMITE CONTROL

Dry wood termites form new colonies by gaining access to wood through small holes or crevices. To prevent needing a dry wood termite treatment, you should seal all cracks and crevices in a structure. Early detection can also save you a lot of headaches, so be sure to look out for dry wood termite droppings and discarded wings. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

Because this pest can quickly overtake your home, it’s important to act fast if an infestation is suspected. To proactively prevent these devastating pests, schedule annual professional termite inspections for your home. If you suspect an infestation, contact our licensed termite control professional to determine the extent of the problem and develop an appropriate dry wood termite treatment plan.

DAMPWOOD TERMITES

As the name suggests, damp wood termites infest wood with high moisture content. Damp wood termites are normally larger in size than other termite species. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

DAMPWOOD TERMITES HABITS

Damp wood termite colonies, like dry wood termites, have no worker caste. The nymph damp wood termites take care of the kings and queens of the colony and feed the soldier caste. These termites create a series of chambers in wood, which are connected by tunnels with smooth walls, as if sandpapered. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

DAMPWOOD TERMITES HABITAT

Damp wood termites are usually found in logs, stumps, dead trees, fence posts and utility poles. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

DAMPWOOD TERMITES THREATS

Dampwood termites do not usually infest structures because of their need for excessive moisture. However, care must be taken to avoid attracting dampwood termites to a structure, as they can cause serious property damage. In fact, dampwood termites and other termite species cause a collective billion shillings in property damage each year. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

DAMPWOOD TERMITE PREVENTION

To avoid dampwood termites, homeowners should eliminate sources of moisture by diverting water away from the home’s foundation. It’s important to repair leaking faucets, water pipes on the outside of the home as dampwood termites are often drawn to these areas. Firewood should be stored at least 20 feet away from the house. To prevent damp wood termites indoors, reduce humidity by properly ventilating crawl spaces, attics and basements. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES

What are subterranean termites?

Subterranean termites can cause the most damage of any termite species. These termites build distinctive tunnels, often referred to as “mud tubes,” to reach food sources and protect themselves from open air. They eat wood 24 hours a day, seven days a week, using their saw-toothed jaws to bite off small fragments of wood one piece at a time. Over time, subterranean termites can critically damage a building structure, sometimes causing a total collapse. Subterranean termites threaten homeowners across the country, as they’re found everywhere. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

WHAT DO SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES LOOK LIKE?

There are three distinct types, or castes, of subterranean termites with physical differences, including reproductives, workers and soldiers. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

The reproductives include the king, queen and alates. Integral to a colony’s growth, the queen is the largest termite while the king is much smaller. Alates, also known as swarmers, have long, dark brown to almost black bodies and translucent, slightly milky-colored wings. Their bodies typically measure about ¼ to ½ inch in length and their wings may have a few barely visible hairs. Unlike swarmers, workers and soldiers do not have wings. Workers are about ¼ inch or less in length are have cream-colored bodies. They have small jaws that help them chew away at wood and move materials. Soldiers can be distinguished by their large mandibles. They have rectangular shaped heads and their bodies are flat and wide. Although their body is usually a creamy white color, similar to workers, their head is darker and more brownish in color.

SIGNS OF SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES INFESTATION

Subterranean termite infestations can occur on the inside or exterior of the home. There are several telltale signs of a termite infestation. One sign is the presence of mud tubes on the exterior of the home. Mud tubes look like long tunnels made of wood and soil, which the termites construct to protect them from drying out as they travel. Other signs of a subterranean termite infestation include soft wood in the home that sounds hollow when tapped, darkening or blistering of wood structures, uneven or bubbling paint, and small piles of feces that resemble sawdust near a termite nest. Discarded wings near doors or on windowsills also indicate that swarmers have entered and infested the home. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES CONTROL

The best method of subterranean termite control is prevention first and foremost. Avoid water accumulation near the home’s foundation, as these pests are attracted to moisture. Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks. Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation. Never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the yard. Additionally, be sure to seal cracks and crevices in the home’s foundation to keep termites out. Most importantly, eliminate wood contact with the soil, and maintain a one-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES HABITS

Subterranean termites are social insects that live in colonies containing caste systems. Typical colonies have three distinct castes: reproductives, workers and soldiers. The reproductives, including the queen and king, are responsible for mating and populating the colony. A queen is the largest and most important termite found in the colony, producing up to 1,000 eggs per day. The workers are the largest group in most termite colonies, repairing the nest, grooming and caring for nest mates, and foraging for food. Soldiers, equipped with huge armored heads and sharp, enlarged mandibles, defend the colony from attack. The queen may live for many years, and individual soldiers and workers may live one to two years. During certain times of the year, “swarmers” will emerge from colonies. These winged adult reproductives leave the current colony to form their own. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

Subterranean termites have been found in nearly worldwide. In some areas, the moist and warm climate provides the ideal conditions for these silent destroyers to wreak havoc on homes and other structures. There, the colonies’ distributions are patchy because the termites are usually spread in infested wood and wood products, such as lumber and firewood. Colony sizes are much larger. In fact, it’s not uncommon for these colonies to have 2-3 million foragers. These large colonies forage over bigger areas and actively feed in living trees and free-standing poles, in addition to structures.

SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES THREATS

Subterranean termites can cause extensive damage. The hard, saw-toothed jaws of termites work like shears and are able to bite off extremely small fragments of wood, one piece at a time.

Even a smaller colony, at 60,000 workers. Over time, subterranean termites can collapse a building entirely, meaning possible financial ruin for a homeowner. Subterranean termite colonies can grow quickly and can often go years undetected, allowing them to cause costly and significant damage without homeowners even having a single clue. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

FORMOSAN TERMITES

What Are Formosan Termites?

Formosan termites are a subterranean species of termite with three distinct castes: alates or reproductive, soldiers and workers. Often referred to as “super termites,” they are the most voracious, aggressive and devious of over 2,000 termite species known to science, chewing through wood, flooring and even wallpaper undetected. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

WHAT DO FORMOSAN TERMITES LOOK LIKE?

Alates, or swarmers, are about 5/16 inch (14-15mm) in overall length, including their wings. Their bodies are pale yellow to brownish yellow in color. They have translucent wings that are densely covered with small hairs. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

Formosan termite soldiers have heads that are rounded on the sides and tapered toward the front, whereas indigenous subterranean termites have rectangular heads. Their mandibles lack teeth.

HOW TO IDENTIFY FORMOSAN TERMITES

It’s essential to know which termite group is causing problems because each one is quite different biologically and, therefore, requires different methods of control. Formosan termites are very similar to other subterranean termite species, like Asian subterranean termites and eastern subterranean termites, so it’s best to contact a licensed pest control professional to help with proper identification. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

It’s important to note that Formosan termite swarmers are often confused with flying ants, too. The best way to tell them apart is by looking at their waists, as termites have broad waists and flying ants have narrow ones. Termites also have straight antennae compared to bent antennae on flying ants. Lastly, termites have wings of equal size, while flying ants have bigger front wings. Watch this video for more advice on how to tell the difference between a termite and flying ant.

FORMOSAN TERMITES INFESTATION SIGNS

There are a few red flags signaling a Formosan termite problem. The first sign that an area is infested with Formosans is the presence of swarmers, or winged reproductives. Swarmers are often attracted to lights, so homeowners should keep an eye out for them (and their discarded wings) near windowsills, doors, lights and vents. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

FORMOSAN TERMITE DAMAGE

Another sign of a Formosan termite infestation is damaged wood that sounds hollow when tapped. The wood often appears to have been eaten away along the grain pattern. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

FORMOSAN TERMITES INFESTATION CONTROL

Anyone suspecting a termite infestation should contact a licensed pest professional about Formosan termite control and treatment.

FORMOSAN TERMITES INFESTATION AND PREVENTION

To prevent a future Formosan termite infestation, homeowners should consider scheduling a professional termite inspection annually – or at least once every 3-5 years, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors. There are also some things that can be done both inside and outside of the home, starting with eliminating sources of moisture. Inside, homeowners should reduce humidity in crawl spaces, attics and basements. Outdoors, divert water away from the home’s foundation to prevent Formosan termite access with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks. Homeowners should also store firewood at least 20 feet away from the home and maintain a one-inch gap between soil and wood portions of the home. It’s also good practice to routinely inspect the foundation of the home for signs of mud tubes, visibly damaged wood and wood that sounds hollow when tapped. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

FORMOSAN TERMITES HABITS

Formosan termites have similar habits to those of eastern subterranean termites. They live in huge underground colonies with an average of 350,000 workers, invading structures using mud tubes constructed up from the soil to wood. Formosans may also establish secondary carton nests above ground if a substantial moisture supply is available. Carton nests are made of soil and wood cemented together with saliva and termite feces.

Formosan termite aerial nests are more often encountered than those of eastern subterranean termites.

Formosan termite queens can produce new colonies and created when winged termites, also known as swarmers, are released from the colony and swarm. Swarming usually occurs in the evening hours following a warm, rainy day in the late spring or early summer. A single colony of Formosan termites may release over 70,000 swarmers. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

FORMOSAN TERMITES THREATS

Because of their aggressive nature, Formosan termites are difficult to control once they infest a structure. Although colonies of several million termites are known, a mature Formosan termite colony can eat about 31 grams or 1+ ounce per day. At this rate, such a colony could completely consume one foot of 2X4 wood in 25 days – causing severe structural damage to a home in as little as six months. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

In addition to structures, Formosans infest living trees and shrubs, utility poles, landscape timbers, wooden railroad trusses and even boats. They are also known to chew through the coverings of telephone and electric cable insulation, resulting in costly damage and power outages in cities.

CONEHEAD TERMITES

What is a conehead termite?

Originally known as the “tree termite,” the conehead termite thrives by feasting on wood. They were renamed as “Conehead Termites” to alleviate the misconception that this pest is only found in trees, and also for the cone-like shape of the heads of their soldiers. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

These termites typically spend their time within their colonies but will also leave to create satellite nests in trees, shrubs, or even open ground. They will also infest fences, paper products and any other cellulose sources they can gain access too. This termite species is highly aggressive and can cause detrimental damage in a short amount of time if left undetected.

WHAT DO CONEHEAD TERMITES LOOK LIKE?

Taking after their name, soldier conehead termites have a dark brown cone shaped head attached to their cream-colored bodies. They are long and narrow, growing to about 3-4mm in length with six legs and two long antennae. While soldiers only make up about 1-2% of subterranean and drywood termite colonies, 20-30% of a typical conehead colony is made up of soldiers. The rest of the colony has a more normal appearance, with cream-colored bodies and less distinctive heads. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

Conehead termites are also easily identifiable by their nests and tunnels which appear above ground in the grass, as well as in trees and bushes. Most other termite species keep their nests and tunnels hidden beneath the ground. The conehead termites’ nests resemble a ball of chewed wood and their tunnels are made of mud.

SIGNS OF CONEHEAD TERMITES INFESTATION

Seeing a nest or the termites themselves are the primary indications of an infestation. Conehead termites are easily identifiable due to their distinctively shaped heads and can often be found in groups inside their nests. They are small, but not too small to be seen by the human eye. Furthermore, their nests are built in visible spaces above ground, allowing them to be detected. Tunnels may be harder to spot but also signal an infestation. These mud tubes can be found running along the ground or up onto walls and trees. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

CONEHEAD TERMITE DAMAGE

Conehead termites primarily cause structural damage, which can devastate a property if left unnoticed for too long. These pests will eat any wood they find, destroying structural lumbar, furniture, fence posts and more. Aside from household destruction, these termites can overwhelm trees and bushes, potentially killing them. If a conehead termite infestation is found, it is imperative to begin the removal process immediately due to the short amount of time it takes for these termites to destroy the structural support of homes or buildings, as well as their ability to quickly travel and spread above ground. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

CONEHEAD TERMITES HABITS

Unlike most termites, the conehead termite does not rely on underground tunneling to travel. Instead, they forage on the ground like ants, allowing them to spread quickly. Furthermore, these termites can survive in most environments, which allows them to travel far distances. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

Conehead termites build dark brown “mud” tubes that are used to travel from their nests to feeding locations. These above ground tunnels are usually only about ½ an inch wide and can be found along the sides of buildings, the mortar joints of brick, and on about any surface. These tubes are used by the termites 24/7 as they travel to and from food and water sources.

Conehead termites also create freestanding nests on the ground, in trees or in wooden structures. The nests can be up to 3 feet in diameter, resembling a large ball of paper and mud carton. Additionally, these nests have a hard, bumpy surface of chewed wood and are often several hundred feet from the colony. This is a distinguishing characteristic of the conehead termite, as many other species of termites tend to keep their nests hidden.

The conehead termite can remain undetected for years, as they refrain from building nests until their colony is strong and healthy. However, it is possible to find their tunnels without a nest.

CONEHEAD TERMITES THREATS

Conehead termites are an extremely aggressive species known for causing widespread property damage in a short period of time. They feast on anything containing cellulose, meaning trees, shrubs, wooden furniture, and structural lumbar. If left unchecked, these destructive pests can spread and cause millions of shillings in damage. Termites and termite infestation management in Kenya, Jopestkil Kenya Termites Information Termite Tips Management, termite damages in Kenya.

These termites do not pose a threat to human health. Conehead termites do not bite or sting and are not known to carry any diseases. However, they are not easy to contain as a colony can simply move or relocate if not handled properly, potentially causing new damage elsewhere.

These pests have a high reproductive rate, allowing their colonies to grow at a quick pace and create more damage. There can be up to hundreds of thousands of termites in one colony. This is why it is vital to begin the removal process as soon as they are identified, as well as schedule regular household inspections.

TERMITES CONTROL

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