Do termites bite? How can you tell if you have termites? As scary as termite infestations may be, the professionals can help. Here's what West Chester homeowners should know about the life cycle of subterranean termites, why termite infestations go unnoticed for so long, why DIY termite control doesn't work, and when you should call professional pest control in West Chester for help.
The Life Cycle Of Subterranean Termites
While some pests may be easy to identify, termites in West Chester are often mistaken for other pests because they can look drastically different based on where they are in the life cycle. If you're worried that your home may have termites, it's important to know what these critters look like as eggs, nymphs, larvae, and adults:
- Eggs: Termite eggs, which can be white to light brown in color, are small and oval-shaped. These eggs are almost always grouped together, but it's rare to spot termite eggs as they are often closely protected by the queen of the colony.
- Larvae: Once they hatch, termites enter the larvae stage of life. Larvae may also be referred to as nymphs and tend to be translucent white, have six legs, and have soft bodies.
- Adult termites: Adult termites can look different depending on what part of the colony they are, but all adult termites share a few of the same characteristics: they're bigger than ants, have six legs, and have straight antennae that protrude from their heads.
Termite workers can tunnel the length of a football field to feed on your home. When termite workers find wood to eat, they don't concentrate on one location. Termite workers continue to tunnel and find other locations to feed, into your foundation or wherever else they can get into.
Unlike typical animals, termites never sleep. They are incredibly simple organisms, capable of feeding 24/7/365 without stopping. This factor combined with their sheer numbers makes them a relentless, ceaseless foe for your home.
Making matters worse, they’re also adept at staying under the radar. Most of the damage they create occurs out-of-sight, though termite presence can occasionally be discovered by the mud tubes they build leading from the soil to the wood of your home. Termites are also silent. Unless you put your ear to a piece of wood with an active termite infestation inside, you're not likely to ever hear termites.
With most pests, it’s never a question of whether or not you have a problem: it’s right there, staring you in the face. Termites are different. They are active underground and inside your home, so you may have little or no idea that they’re even present until you try to sell your home.
When Is Termite Season In West Chester?
Most people think of termite season as being in the warmer months of the year, namely summer. This is a bit of a misconception. Around West Chester, termites in the wild typically start returning to activity in the late spring, with reproductive termites sprouting wings and partaking in mating swarms, spreading out far and wide to create new batches of termite colonies. If your home happens to be in the vicinity of a swarm, there is little you can do to stop termites from eventually stumbling upon it.
Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, termites will remain active and foraging throughout their immediate area for sources of cellulose (wood). Then in the winter, they go dormant, right?
Wrong. It’s important to realize that, in a way, termite season never really ends. As the colder weather rolls in, instead of going dormant, they simply dig deeper into the wood they’ve already settled in. This means if they’ve already found your home during the warmer months of the year, the onset of winter will only cause them to dig deeper holes into your home.
A Termite Infestation Can Go Unnoticed For Some Time
Termite infestations cause so much damage and cost homeowners so much money because infestations tend to go unnoticed for three to eight years on average. Why do they go unnoticed for so long? The signs of a termite infestation tend to be subtle and easy to miss – many homeowners may contribute the signs they see to water damage or just minor structural issues in their house.
Because they go unnoticed for so long, having a pest management professional perform annual inspections can make all the difference. Not only can a termite expert catch infestations before they cost you thousands of dollars, but if there is damage in your home, they can help identify how much of your home's structural integrity has been compromised.
How To Tell If Your West Chester Home Has Termites
While termites tunneling itself largely goes on unnoticed, the resulting problems it can create can lead to noticeable effects on your home. There are warning signs that indicate a termite infestation inside your West Chester home.
Check the walls first. Peeling/bubbling paint and discolored or sagging drywall in your home could be caused by termite tunneling directly underneath the surface. It can also lead to pin-size holes in the wall from where they enter and exit. Termites can also leave maze patterns or mud tubes built into the wall. Try knocking on the walls: if they sound hollow inside, it might be because they really are!
Next check the floors. If your wooden floors are starting to cave in, or you’re seeing loose floor tiles, termite tunneling could be the cause.
Termites will also leave some biological elements behind, namely droppings. These are small pellet piles, referred to as “frass.” Termite frass resembles sawdust and is often found in small piles in areas where termites are tunneling. Likewise, if your home has had a termite swarm nearby, you might find the discarded wings leftover from when the reproductive termites shed their wings and created a new colony.
If you’ve noticed any of the above warning signs around your West Chester home, call a termite treatment specialist immediately!
Why Do-It-Yourself Termite Control Fails
Once you realize you've got termites, does do-it-yourself termite control get rid of these pests? Unfortunately, DIY methods for getting rid of termites are rarely as effective as they may seem. Some of the biggest reasons that home remedies or DIY methods for termite control don't work include:
- Health Risks: Many of the over-the-counter termite control methods include pesticides and chemicals, which aren't always safe to use around humans or pets. Most homeowners don't have the gear or the training to use these harmful chemicals properly, so there's a risk that these pesticides could become toxic to you, your family, or your pets.
- The Right Equipment: Termite control is often more complicated. When it comes to the best way to get rid of termites, you'll need to kill every single termite and termite egg in the colony, not just the termites you see or find. For this, you'll need the right equipment, and homeowners don't often have access to professional-grade equipment.
- Time-Consuming and Costly: Homeowners may try to tackle termites on their own to save money or time, but unfortunately, these ineffective DIY methods often end up costing you more time and money compared to hiring a professional.
If you need to address termites in your home, the best way to do so is with the help of a trained professional.
Is It Possible To Avoid Termite Damage In West Chester?
Unfortunately, some things in life are inevitable. You know you’re going to have to replace parts of your home over time, and that the longer you live in it, the more accumulated damage you might have to repair.
But what about termite damage? Is it a sure thing or can it be completely prevented?
Termite damage happens the same as every other time of damage threatening your home: gradually, over time. Also like other forms of damage to your home, the longer you wait, the more costly the damages will be. In severe cases, you could start seeing problems in all areas of your home, as well as catastrophic damage to your home’s overall fortitude.
However, termite damage compounds existing damage and can make problems occur even faster.
The only reliable way to prevent termites from becoming a problem in your West Chester home is by being proactive and implementing a long-term termite protection plan for your home beforehand.
Call The Pros For The Best Termite Control And Protection
Receiving annual inspections can be a necessary precaution to catching termites early, but what do you do if you actually discover these pests in your home? As dangerous as termites can be for your home and wallet, there's only one secret to total termite protection, and that's working with Masters Touch Pest Solutions.
Our small team of experts has years of experience serving West Chester and surrounding counties, and we can put our expertise and our time-tested treatments to good use in your West Chester home. If you think you've got termites, don't wait to call – contact us today at Masters Touch Pest Solutions for more information about our residential and commercial pest control services in West Chester, and how our total termite protection services work.