These simple facts will help every property owner determine when to call in the pest guys, and when to leave well alone.
What do Termites, White Ants and ‘Flying Ants’ have in common?
They are one and the same beast. Most South Africans will know the phenomenon of ‘flying ants’. Usually after a hot spell of weather, followed by rain, swarms of these winged insects make themselves known as they invade lit areas. A loud holla of “Flying Ants!” will jettison a family to quickly kill all lights in the home, put lids over cooking food on the stove and shut doors and windows as fast as possible. However, no matter how quickly the response, an invasion will invariably result in at least one ant in the mashed potato and hundreds of diaphanous wings will litter floors the next day. A ‘Flying Ant’ is not actually an Ant at all, but a subterranean termite.
If we regularly experience ‘flying ants’, does this mean we have a termite problem?
Not necessarily, but quite possibly. Swarming occurs when the termites fly into the air to create new colonies. After swarming, their wings drop off and they pair up to mate with the hope of starting a new colony under the soil. Few swarmers survive outdoors to start a colony and those indoors are incapable of eating wood. They are best removed with a vacuum.
A professional pest control technician will carefully explore all evidence of termite activity on your premises. If a termite mound is found in the garden and indications are the colony is feeding on a tree stump or similar; it is best to leave well alone. An Entomologist will quickly expound on the superior intelligence of this species; termites are phenomenal engineers.
Mounds are constructed with cooling air vents perfectly positioned to ventilate a colony of insects which could easily consist of 250 000 individuals or several million. Vents are opened or shut according to wind direction and firmly plugged well before the onset of heavy rains. The queen will live up to 30 years and workers average a 5 year lifespan.
Subterranean tunnels are used to ferry wood into the colony. The termites do not actually eat the wood but use it to ‘farm’ a fungal garden. They feed off the fungus growing on the rotting wood pile.
However, if the technician finds winged termites emerging from the base of a foundation wall or adjoining porches and patios, there’s a good chance the house is infested, and treatment may be warranted.
Other signs of infestation are earthen (mud) tubes extending over foundation walls, support piers, sill plates, floor joists, etc. The mud tubes are typically about the diameter of a pencil, but sometimes can be thicker.
Call in the Calvary… Professional Pest Control Required.
Although Spot Treatment may work as a retreatment operation, it is not a guaranteed solution. Since termite activity is all about harvesting wood sources to return to the colony for ‘fungus farming’ some distance from your building, spot treatment will not prevent further termite activity where foraging for supplies takes many routes. Service Master offers a 5-year guarantee treatment where the complete foundation of the building is treated.
Holes will be drilled at approximately 1m intervals throughout the exterior cavity walls and the concrete slab of the structure. The holes will penetrate right through the concrete slab to enable the chemical to reach the soil underneath the structure. A registered Termiticide chemical will be pressure injected into the holes, flooding the soil underneath the slab and cavity walls. All holes will be sealed over. Should there be a suspended floor or crawl space underneath the structure, only the exterior cavity walls will be drilled as above, and the same chemical will be used to flood the subfloor. The termiticide forms a chemical barrier between the soil underground and the wood inside the structure.
If in doubt, call a reputable pest control company for a professional assessment of your property. Service Master has more than half a century of experience in this arena with a reputation for reliable service and quality product.