Nearly half of termite samples are from most aggressive species

Majority of samples come from St. Rose

May 20, 2011 at 11:48 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

‘Tis the season of termites, as swarms of the destructive insects are being spotted flying together near street lamps throughout the parish. And nearly half of the termite samples that are being collected are of the most aggressive species - Formosan.

County Agent Rene' G. Schmit says that there is no one area that stands out as dominant, but points out that a majority of the samples are coming from St. Rose.

“But we are getting samples from pretty much all over the parish,” Schmit adds.

In the past month, Schmit has received about 18 termite samples, and seven or eight of those were Formosan. That termite species can destroy wood at twice the rate of native subterranean termites.

Schmit says that native termites have been around for hundreds of years, while the Formosan have only been here a short while, invading St. Charles approximately 14 years ago.

“This is Louisiana and we have a tropical climate because of heavy moisture. Termites thrive in our environment,” Schmit said.

Termites can invade any home, whether the house is old and sits on pillars or is new and sits on pillars or slabs. However, those homeowners that have not conducted or maintained a home barrier treatment are the most at risk.

“It is very important to get some type of treatment barrier to prevent termites from entering your home and to make sure you don't have any areas around or in the home that are left to develop heavy moisture, such as broken gutters,” Schmit said.

The swarms of termites themselves do not cause damage to a home and finding a few inside during a swarm doesn't necessarily mean that termites have taken up residency.

“If a homeowner has a home barrier treatment and sees a few termites here and there, that doesn't mean they have an infestation. It's very common for homes with barriers to see termites in their homes,” Schmit said. “It's when you start to see a large concentration occurring on a regular bases that you should be alarmed.”

However, if a homeowner doesn't have a barrier and sees termites, they should contact a professional.

Schmit says that detecting a termite problem should involve consultation from a licensed pest control operator for proper inspection, identification and treatment.

“It may be necessary that a combination of treatments would need to be applied, especially where Formosan termites are identified,” he said. “Although there are a wide variety of do-it-yourself treatments, most are short lived and slow acting.”

To reduce risk for attracting termites, consider the following maintenance tips:

•Reduce moisture
 - Provide for gutter downspouts to drain water away from your house, including air conditioning condensate.
 - Promptly fix any leaks in roof, gutters and plumbing.

•Eliminate earth-to-wood contact
 - Make sure wood is not in direct contact with the soil.
 - Outdoor wood porches and wood steps should be placed on a concrete base at least 6 inches above grade.
- Store woodpiles or firewood away from the house and make sure they are raised off the ground.
- Keep shrubs and flower gardens at least 12 inches away from the house.

•Minimize the amount of raw wood available for termites to eat
   - Treat unpainted exterior wood with an oil based wood preservative or borate product such as Bora-care.
 -Replace rotted or destroyed structural wood with properly pressure treated wood.

•Inspect your property often for termites
- Look for signs of infestation inside and outside of structures -  mud tubes along the slab, siding, especially in crawl space, attic and bathroom.
- Accumulation of termite wings indoors or swarms emerging from the building exterior.
For more information on termites and termite control, contact Schmit at (985)785-4473.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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