Problem: Termites (Insects)
Termites cause great economic damage in this country. These insects have special protozoa in their stomachs that help them digest wood. Termites may be either winged or wingless. The winged forms emerge from nests in the spring and fall, often on a warm day following a rain. After mating in the air, the winged termites drop their wings and search for a suitable place to start a new colony. Only a small percentage survive and are successful. Colonies consist of eggs, nymphs, workers, soldiers, one or more egg-laying queens, and winged termites that will one day leave the colony. There are three kinds of termites. Subterranean termites are the most common. They maintain their colonies within the ground and build their characteristic mud tubes over rocks and cement foundations to bridge the gap between soil and wood. Their galleries in wood always contain soil. Dampwood termites do not require contact with the ground but do require wood or soil with a high moisture content. Their galleries are free of soil. Drywood termites do not require such contact with the ground and do not build mud tubes. Their galleries are also free of soil. Although termites are beneficial in nature because they help decompose the wood of fallen trees and shrubs, they sometimes weaken or kill living trees and shrubs. They usually enter the plant through wounds, dead branches, or roots. Drywood termites confine their feeding primarily to dried heartwood. They seldom kill the plant, but they weaken it structurally if they continue feeding over a long period. In warm climates, subterranean termites sometimes eat the bark and living tissues underneath, killing the plant.
Discourage infestations by keeping the area under and around the house free of wood debris above and below the ground. Stack firewood away from the house and keep it off the ground. If the soil around the home''s foundation remains moist due to faulty plumbing or improper grade, repair the plumbing and alter the grade, since termites prefer moist soil.