Termite infestation – they are two words that every homeowner dreads. Unfortunately, they are not uncommon words in Georgia, where termite infestations are amongst the highest in the United States. In fact, termite.com estimates that as many as 1 in 5 homes in Georgia either has been or will be attacked by termites.
In the state of Georgia, there are no less than three different species of termites ready to turn homes and other possessions into so much insect food.
Employing a professional to keep those hungry little suckers at bay is always a good idea, but there’s also nothing like good old-fashioned knowledge to help you in shielding your home from pestilential invasion.
So, just what are you up against? Let’s take a look at the three types of termites just itching to chew their way into and through your home, and the most obvious ways to tell if they have indeed selected your home as their own…
TERMITE SPECIES IN GEORGIA
You may say, “who cares if there is a difference, a termite is a termite, right? And they’re all bad news.”
Well, you’re half right. There is no such thing as a helpful termite, so far as home conditions go, but the three types of termites prevalent in Georgia are different and even vary slightly in how they attack your home.
The 3 termite species found in Georgia are:
- Eastern Subterranean termite
- Formosan termite
- Drywood termite
The Eastern Subterranean termite is the most common species of termite across the entire United States and is the most common type of termite in Georgia. The Formosan termite is an invasive species from China – and is now the most aggressive type of termite found in Georgia (they will even chew through electrical wiring!). The Drywood termite is also found in Georgia, but rare and typically found around coastal areas – and rarely seen in the Metro Atlanta area.
The Eastern Subterranean and Formosan termites are both in-ground dwellers that can enter your house through flooring – they can squeeze through gaps less than one-sixteenth of an inch wide or eat through a rubber expansion joint to gain entrance. They live underground because of a constant need for water and moisture. Both of these types of termites are covered under the Zone Home Solutions Termite Warranty.
HOW DO I KNOW I HAVE A TERMITE PROBLEM?
The termites in Georgia that do all of the damage are known as “workers” in the structure of a colony, and are noticeable by size (about one-eighth of an inch long) and color (white to creamy translucent).
The other, often most-visible, sign of termites are called “swarmers.” These termites are the colonists of the nest. Their primary job is to form new colonies. They sprout wings, and although they are poor fliers, they get carried on the wind until they find a suitable location to infest. In Georgia, the generally swarm in the spring and early summer and are unmistakable by sheer numbers.
Beyond sighting the insects themselves, there are also other visible signs of a termite infestation in a structure, including:
- Hollow-sounding wood
- Sagging floors or ceilings
- Crumbling wood in any structure
- Cracked or distorted paint on wood surfaces
- Red clay or mud trails
- Mud tubes on exterior walls (termites use these to protect themselves and provide moisture)
- Powderpost termites also leave fecal droppings (hard, elongated and oval pellets with rounded ends that have six concave sides)
If you have noticed one or more of these signs, you need to investigate further, and quickly. But be careful not to rip open a colony. Eastern Subterranean termites, especially, will move on to a different area if disturbed and cause damage to previously untouched parts of a structure.
WHAT MAKES A TERMITE COLONY TICK
All termites live in large colonies headed by a queen and a king, workers, soldiers and swarmers.
The queen can live more than 25 years and is much larger than any other termite in the colony. She lays the eggs that keeps the colony going – sometimes more than 2,000 a day.
The workers, meanwhile, do just that, chewing away at wood, constructing tunnels and repairing and enlarging the nest.
Soldiers defend the colony, most often against ants, and are noticeable due to their enlarged heads and jaws with which to attack invaders.
We’ve already noted swarmers. If you’ve ever seen a swarm it’s hard to forget, no matter how much you would like to. An identifiable swarm is a surefire sign of infestation. It usually takes place in the spring, most often after rain.
Termites are also not afraid to travel in search of food. Formosan termites will forage as far as 400 yards away from the colony. And Eastern Subterranean termites will travel up to 100 yards looking for fresh food/wood.
MAINTAIN YOUR GUARD
Termites in Georgia are persistent, hard-working and a total nightmare if they take root in your home. Stay vigilant, especially during the spring and summer when new colonies are forming and swarmers are in search of a new home.
Also, do not mistake a swarmer for a flying ant. It is an easy mistake to make, but a close inspection of the two insects reveals differences:
- Termites have straight antenna; similar sized, paired wings; and a thick, straight waist.
- Flying ants have bent antenna; front wings that are longer than their back wings; and a distinct, bent waist.
Prevention is the best method of avoiding termite damage, and professional companies can provide several measures to keep your home at the lowest possible risk.
If you discover a termite infestation, do not hesitate; call a professional, like Zone right away and limit the damage already underway in your home. Check your termite protection options from Zone. We’re always happy to provide a free inspection and quote.