Termites and Termite Control

Termites are insects of the order Isoptera and are the only insects able to digest the cellulose component of wood. In nature, their role in the ecology is to digest dead trees and return the nutrients they contain to the soil; and if that was all they did, probably no one would bother them.

The problem is that termites aren't smart enough to distinguish homes and other wooden structures from plain, old dead trees. Termites cause untold millions of dollars in damage every year as they literally eat homes and other wooden buildings, furniture, musical instruments, and pretty much anything else made of wood that they find in their paths.

Termite Biology

Termites are highly social insects that have a well-developed caste system. Every caste has a well-defined set of duties, and all contribute to the colony's survival and success.

The Queen

Termite QueenThe Queen's main duty as the primary or sole reproductive female of the colony is to lay eggs, and in a year she may lay tens of millions of them. In mature colonies, supplemental reproductives may also lay eggs, making for a staggeringly rapid potential rate of colony growth.

The queen also secretes chemical messengers called pheromones that regulate various aspects of the colony's life. It is believed that these pheromones directly control such things as the gender and caste of other members and their respective duties within the colony.

 

The King

Termite KingThe king is the male member of a termite marriage. Back before the colony was first established, he emerged from the parent colony with his bride in search of a suitable place to establish a nest of their own. Hundreds or thousands of other mating pairs did the same thing, but most of them perished in the attempt.

Once the king and queen found a cozy place of their own, he helped raise the first generation of offspring. But ever since that generation grew up and became workers, the king's life has consisted solely of his reproductive duties.

 

Worker Termites

Worker TermiteThe great majority of members of a given termite colony are workers. These harmless-looking, grub-like insects are also the ones who do all the damage.

Workers alone possess the mouthparts needed to chew wood, and they feed the rest of the colonies members from the wood that they forage. Their duties also include maintaining the colony's system of mud tubes, caring for young, and performing housekeeping duties.

 

Alates (or Swarmers)

Termite Alate, or SwarmerAlates (commonly called swarmers) are sexually mature, winged termites of both sexes who will leave the parent colony in a swarm to establish colonies of their own. Most will perish in the attempt, their shed wings and carcasses the only memorial to their noble effort.

Quite often, a homeowner will first become aware that their home has a termite problem when they find dead swarmers or their shed wings along basement walls, in window frames, on sill plates, or in other areas in and around their homes. But by the time a colony has produced swarmers, it has been in existence for several years.

 

Soldier Termites

Soldier TermiteLike swarmers, soldier termites only exist in mature termite colonies. Their job is to protect the colony from predators (mainly other insects).

Their large, hardened heads and powerful mandibles are adapted for fighting and are their most obvious identifying features.

Soldier termites are incapable of chewing wood and must be fed by workers. Their presence is nonetheless significant, however, as it indicates that the colony is a mature one that has been in existence for at least a few years.

 

Termite Species

There are many species of termites, but only two of them are considered a threat in Huntsville, Alabama and surrounding areas: The eastern Subterranean Termite and the Formosan Termite. Of the two, the Eastern Subterranean Termite is far more common; but the Formosan Termite, though rare, is considered far more destructive. Our termite treatment is effective against covers both termite species.

Subterranean termites live in the ground and eat wood. Because they are susceptible to dehydration and predators, they build mud tubing between the ground and the wood when they are separated by air. Very often, the presence of these mud tubes is the first visible evidence that a house has a termite problem.

Termite Damage

In the course of their feeding activities, termites can cause severe damage to a building -- literally eating you out of house and home. Their slow, steady, disciplined feeding can reduce wooden structural parts of a house to sawdust over the years. Termites can also damage wooden furniture, flooring, musical instruments, stored documents, and almost anything else that contains cellulose. This damage can cost many thousands of dollars to repair; so when choosing a company to treat your home for termites, choose wisely. A couple of hundred dollars saved now may cost you tens of thousands down the road.

Termite Treatment

There are several approaches to termite treatment, but at Tried and True, our treatment of choice is Termidor.

Termidor is a revolutionary, non-repellent termiticide that works unlike older, repellent termiticides. Termites can't smell or taste Termidor, so they merrily travel through it as if it wasn't even there. Because it acts rather slowly, they also carry it back to their nests and distribute it among the rest of the colony members in the course of their feeding and grooming activities.

And then they all die.

In fact, in ongoing tests conducted by the USDA, Termidor has maintained a 100 percent termite control rate for nearly a decade -- making it the most proven termiticide of its generation. That's why we insist on Termidor. Yes, it costs a little more than other products. But it works -- and our customers deserve the best.