Termites in Alabama
Termites in Alabama are so severe that the State government has been running many awareness programs for these pests. The state government has asked pest control companies and homeowners who find termites to give them a sample to Auburn University for termite identification when they are found.
The government and University can track the situation and see if termite infestations are worsening. At present, four termite species have been found in Alabama. Termites are attracted to Alabama because of the high moisture levels and frequent rainfall.
It is a worry, and with most homeowners’ insurance not covering termite damage, you need to protect your home from a termite problem and look out for warning signs of a termite infestation.
This article will discuss termites in Alabama and how you can prevent termites and spot the warning signs.
Formosan subterranean termites in Alabama
Formosan termites first appeared in the 1980s in Alabama. From this time, Formosan subterranean termites spread to many counties. A Formosan termites colony is vast, containing as many as 15 million termites. The swarms can reach millions if multiple colonies exist in the same area. With that many termites in a colony, they can cause a lot of termite damage to wooden structures.
Formosan termites are not very noticeable because they come out at night when the temperature has gone down. The Formosan termites, like other termites, feed on wood up to 300 feet from their colony in the soil. Formosan termites build interconnected galleries in the soil near a food source, making their colony vast.
Like other termite species, the colony has three castes: soldiers, workers, and reproductive termites.
The mature reproductive termites are those you see swarming after rainfall. Reproducers are up to 15 mm long and are yellowish brown.
The termite workers are the only caste member that gathers food for the colony. They prefer damp wood to dry wood.
The workers feed on wood structures, organic debris, decaying wood, tree stumps, fallen trees, and wooden furniture. They do so for the cellulose it contains and feeds it to the other termites in the colony, leaving significant damage to wood structures.
The soldiers have dark orange heads, yellow bodies, and large mandibles used to defend the colony against intruders.
Swarms and egg production
Formosan subterranean termites swarm and reproduce in the spring. The male and female reproducing termites pair up, mate, and discard their wings, and egg production begins with hundreds of eggs produced by the Formosan termite queen.
In less than a month, the eggs hatch in the termites’ nest, and the mature reproductive termites will look after them. After around two months, more eggs are laid, and the young termites will look after them.
Termite activity in the form of swarms is a common indication that Formosan termites are in the area. Many homeowners do not think about termites until they see them swarming.
Another sign of termites foraging is the presence of mud tubes the width of a pencil near structural wood; the mud tubes are an extension of the soil tubes under the ground.
Termite workers are blind; when they move, they can make their way into homes or wooden structures through wood that is in contact with the ground or cracks in the home’s foundation.
Inside the house, they can move through wood floor joists and into structural wood located behind walls and under floors. They seek water-damaged damp wood and rotting wood; if the infestation goes untreated, they will also feed on sound wood.
Eastern subterranean termites
Eastern subterranean termites are a little easier to notice because they are significantly larger than other species of termites. Measuring about 10 mm long, they are the most common species in the United States.
This termite species mate in February if the winter is warm. You may notice them swarm during the day when the temperatures start to rise.
Like other termite species, they have the same caste members. The workers are off-white, and the soldiers are yellowish with large mandibles; both are about a quarter of an inch long. The reproducers are dark brown and half an inch long.
It can take years for Eastern subterranean termites to cause significant damage to wood structures.
Dark southeastern subterranean termites
The Dark southeastern subterranean termite is found mainly in the East and South. They are less common than the Formosan and eastern subterranean termites.
Unlike other species, Dark eastern subterranean termites swarm in early summer during the day when temperatures start to rise. They are smaller in size, but if multiple colonies are in the same area, swarms can be in the millions.
Dark southeastern subterranean termites are dark, as the name suggests, and are 8 mm long. They will come out of the ground if there is moisture and a food source. Dark southeastern subterranean termites will eat wood with more than 20% moisture.
Are termites dangerous in Alabama?
A termite infestation can be dangerous if it is left untreated because of the structural damage they cause. However, they are not dangerous to humans directly.
How to prevent termites
Firstly, arrange a pest control company to provide annual inspections of your home. They will check your property and offer advice if needed. Liquid treatments can be applied to the soil to provide a defense.
Remove piles of wood, organic debris, fallen trees, and tree stumps that attract them.
Repair cracks and crevices in outside walls with caulk. Purchase a dehumidifier to reduce moisture.
We advise you not to place mulch close to the house’s foundations as it attracts these pests.
If you are building a new structure, choose pesticide-treated wood. Painting wood can deter them from eating through the wood.
Eliminate excess moisture in your home and yard
Moisture-loving termites are attracted to damp areas. Check for leaking faucets, pipes, and drains around the inside and outside of your property.
Unblock moisture-holding gutters and drains so that rainwater can drain away.
Point sprinklers away from the house to avoid too much water build-up near the foundations.
Signs of an infestation
Piles of discarded wings.
Frass (feces) that looks like sawdust near wood.
Hollow-sounding wood when tapped.
We presented ‘Termites in Alabama.’ We hope you have found it helpful and informative.
Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each control method, product and process to prevent infestations effectively.