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Houston Pest Control Guide


Houston Pests TermitesTermites are without a doubt the most damaging insects found in Houston. Termites eat wood, and they can do serious and costly damage to any wooden part of a building.

Termites are most active in the early spring, when they emerge from below ground to sprout wings and swarm looking for a new place to nest. If you see large numbers of small, winged insects in your home in the spring or summer, call in a termite control professional.

Treating for termites requires professional treatment. Having your home inspected and treated on a regular basis will prevent damage and protect your investment.

What Types of Subterranean Termites Are There in Houston?

Formosan Subterranean Termites

Formosan termites are an extremely aggressive species of subterranean termite that was introduced to America in the 1950s. They have become well established in Houston and are responsible for billions of dollars of damage every year. These wood-eating insects will construct both underground nests and fly up to infest the wood in the structure above the nest.

These insects are usually detected by seeing winged, swarming termites in the home or finding discarded wings in the home. Formosan termites can also be detected by the presence of mud tubes surrounding the home and signs of wood damage.

Native Subterranean Termites

Native subterranean termites are extremely destructive and very common in Houston. These wood-destroying insects are usually noticed in the early spring when they swarm. People will usually report seeing large numbers of flying black bugs inside their homes or finding discarded wings around windows.

These termites will nest for years underground, emerging to swarm and to search for food. They can cause severe damage to the structure of a home, leaving wood with a distinctive gnawed, rotted appearance and deposits of a sawdust-like waste called fass around the damaged area.

Any suspected termite infestation should be treated thoroughly and immediately, and yearly termite inspections and preventative treatments are highly recommended. Because treating termites requires specialized knowledge, equipment, and licensed access to chemicals, do-it-yourself termite treatments are simply not an option. any termite infestation should be handled by a licensed termite control professional.

How Do Termites Enter My Home?

Subterranean termites will nest underground and emerge onto the surface to feed. Their nests can contain thousands of individual termites, and in spring when the weather warms up often a new queen will split off from the colony and look to start a new nest in a new location. This is when termites swarm, and hundreds of small, black winged insects show up indoors. What's important to know is that these termite swarmers rarely enter your home through an open door or window. Instead, they come into the house through the structure itself, through passages which you might not be obvious to you. The ways that termites enter your home are through:

  • Porches and Exterior Wood Structures - Porches and wood structures on the exterior of your home are one of the most common ways for termites to enter your home. Remember that termites feed on wood. Because the wood on porches is exposed to the elements, it's usually weaker than wood inside the home. This weakened wood presents an attractive meal to termites, who will work their way up through the porch wood and literally eat their way into your home.
  • Foundation Cracks - Cracks in the foundation are one of the most problematic ways for termites to enter your home. Termites crawling up from underground can work their way up through small cracks in the foundation which you might not even be aware of. Preventative treatments to your foundation are a good way to block this entrance for termites.
  • Plumbing and Drains - Loose seals around plumbing in drains are a common way for termites and a number of other pests to enter your home. Termites are also attracted to the moisture the accumulates around pipes, and so a homeowner will often wake up one spring morning to discover a bathroom covered with termite swarmers. Making sure pipe seals are tight will help keep termites, roaches, and a number of other pests out of your home.

What Are Some Signs of Termites?

Seeing Bugs Flying Around Your House

Probably the clearest sign of termites in you home is actually seeing termites. However, unless you know that termites grow wings and become flying insects as part of their lifecycle, you may not recognize the insects you’re seeing flying around your home are termites. When termites grow wings and fly around in large numbers, it’s called a termite swarm and the insects are termite swarmers.

Termites swarm in early spring when, as part of their reproductive lifecycle, termites develop wings and a swarm of flying termites sets off to found new colony. In Houston, termite swarms are usually triggered by warm weather and humidity, the first signs of which we usually see in Houston starting in late February and into March.

If you see termite swarmers in your house, emerging from the base of a foundation wall or any adjoining porches or patios, it's unfortunately an almost certain sign that you're facing a termite infestation in your home.

Discarded Wings

Even if you don’t see the termites swarming, you may see evidence that they have been there. Once termites have swarmed, they shed their wings and settle into their new nests. If you find large numbers of discarded insect wings in your home, along windowsills, near the foundation of your house or on your patio, it could be a sign that you’re playing host to a termite infestation.

Wood Damage from Termites

Another key sign of the presence of termites is wood damage. Termites leave characteristic bore holes and a sawdust-like residue when they infest wood. However, since termites like to live in wood frames and foundations, these signs may not always be visible. Sagging walls, floors or ceilings, or discolored spots on wood, walls or drywall that look like water damage may all be signs of termite infestation.

Mud Tubes

Underground termites build tubes out of earth and mud that connect their underground nests to the open air. Termites uses these tubes to travel back and forth between their nest and their food source, which could be the wood in your house. Breaking these tubes open to see if there are any small, creamy-white worker termites within is one way of telling if the infestation is active.

Termite Droppings

Drywood termites often leave droppings that can tip you off to their presence. Because of their wood diet, it’s not surprising that termite droppings resemble piles of sawdust. These sawdust-like piles of termite droppings are called "frass". If you find what looks like unexplained piles of sawdust in your home, it’s probably time to call a pest control service. Piles of droppings often mean that any nearby wood is infested with termites.

How Do I Get Rid of Termites?

Professional termite control is the only way to get rid of termites. Eliminating termite nests requires specialized equipment, chemicals that are regulated only to licensed professionals, and the knowledge and experience necessary to treat an infestation.

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