Subterranean termites cause billions of dollars of damage annually and are notorious for their destructive habits. Why are they so destructive? Because they break down cellulose substances (cellulose is what wood is made of) in the environment, turning them into nutrient rich material. This behavior makes them a SaddleBrooke homeowner’s worst nightmare, especially with it presently being the time of year they begin swarming in our area.

Subterranean termites are social insects forming large colonies that move together. As the name implies, a subterranean termite’s home is underground, working and winding their way through the soil. It is important for homeowners to be aware of the differences in behavioral characteristics of subterranean termites versus other types of wood destroying organisms (other creatures can damage the structure). Familiarizing yourself with these traits can prove to be helpful in identifying signs of a possible infestation, as well as knowing what to look out for and where.

Termites do not discriminate against home construction type and will eventually find their way inside any type of structure if the right conditions exist. Even homes constructed of concrete provide no match for a termite’s determination when attempting to invade your home. Although subterranean termites live below the soil, their tunneling capabilities allow them to weave and tunnel their way until they find an appropriate entry point.

There are several ways how subterranean termites can enter a home:

  1. Mud Tunnels - Although the common way of entering the home is at ground level, subterranean termites also construct mud tunnels that allow them to reach entry points above the ground. These entry points can include even the smallest cracks and crevices in brick mortar and concrete slabs, (termites only need 1/64th of an inch) allowing them to travel through the interior of the foundational walls. The mud tunnels can be visible on interior and exterior stucco, drywall, brick, rock, adobe, ceilings, and most commonly foundation stem walls.

  2. Wood-to-Ground - Structures that allow for wood-to-ground contact make the perfect roadway for termites to enter. Wooden support beams, viga beams, columns and posts, wooden decking/flooring, furniture and steps, window/door frames and more all provide ample opportunities for subterranean termites to find their way indoors. Additional wooden structures built onto the homes also provide possible entry points as homes built on concrete slabs are closer to the ground.

  3. Expansion joints - In-between the concrete slabs of your home and the beginning of the brick and mortar, there are joints that may sometimes expand, allowing for a small enough gap to allow termites to enter. In fact many expansion joints are often separated by a type of cork material, termites have no problem moving through these.

  4. Wall fractures - small fractures in the concrete foundation or brick mortar running throughout the perimeter of your home also provide the ideal entry point for termites to enter, feeding off of the insulation and wooden framing on the interior of those walls.

When diagnosing the level of termite activity in your home, accurate identification of possible entry points from the exterior leading into the interior of your home is critical. Seeking out and determining how termites are entering your home provides a good foundation on which a trained pest control professional can assist you in determining the severity of problem and next steps.

(Tommy Gee is the Manager for Truly Nolen in SaddleBrooke. His service office can be reached at (520) 219-2494. Founded in 1938, Tucson-based Truly Nolen of America (www.trulynolen.com ) is one of the largest family-owned pest control companies in the United States.)


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