Termite Protection on the Texas Gulf Coast. $2.0 billion is spent annually in the United States to repair damage caused by termites. Termite damage, in most cases, may not be visible for at least 12 to 18 months beyond the initial infestation.
Drywood termites are common in the Houston area. These termites are light yellow to black with clear to smoky gray wings, about 7/16 inch long. The nymphs or worker termites are wingless and approximately 3/8 inch long, wingless, white to grayish with white to yellowish-brown heads. The soldier drywood termites are similar in appearance to the workers but have large rectangular darker heads bearing well developed jaws which are used to protect their termite colony.
Drywood termites occur in Texas coastal counties, with western spot infestations in Uvalde and San Antonio and north to Collin County, causing a great deal of concern to homeowners when discovered. Biology differs from the more common subterranean termite because it does not nest in the ground and thus requires a different, more expensive treatment approach.
Drywood termites swarm and mate, usually in late summer and early fall. Males and females remain together to start a new colony and mate periodically thereafter to assure continued egg production. Eggs, produced by the mated female reproductive or queen, hatch in about two weeks.
Subterranean termites, Reticulitermes virginicus are social insects. There are three types (castes) of termite adults in a colony; 1) reproductives; 2) workers; and 3) soldiers. Reproductives can be winged, primary reproductives called alates or swarmers or wingless, secondary reproductives. Winged reproductives have 1/4 to 3/8 inch long pale yellow-brown to black bodies and bear four wings of equal size that may be smoky gray to brown and have few wing veins. Termite workers are white and soft bodied. Soldiers resemble worker termites, except that they have enlarged brownish heads and strong, well-developed jaws. Soldiers defend the colony from invaders, primarily ants.
Subterranean termites tunnel into structural timbers and other sources of cellulose on which they feed. Subterranean termites occur throughout Texas, but are more prevalent in coastal regions.
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The Formosan termite is a subterranean species of termite. It was originally found primarily in the greater Houston-Galveston area and Beaumont-Port Arthur, but its geographic territory is consistently expanding north in Texas. The Formosan termite is larger than the subterranean termite and has a pale yellow body color.
Colonies of the Fromosan Termite are found in spaces such as wall voids or in hollows dug in wood both in or on the ground, are built of a mixture of chewed wood and soil cemented together, called carton. Reproductives swarm in late afternoon and evening, and are attracted to lights.
Subterranean termites: nest in the soil. Winged male and female reproductives swarm from the nest in daylight during the spring, usually after a rain. Development from egg to adult takes 2 to 7 weeks. A termite colony matures in 2 to 4 years and may contain 21,000 to 365,000 termites.
Termites can enter a building through any material directly in contact with the soil. They also enter through foundation cracks, concrete joints, gaps between water pipes and the concrete slab, bath traps, and via transportation (mud) tubes they create over or through the foundation.*
- In Texas, termite damage repair costs total approximately $10 million annually
- Average damage repair cost per structure is $10,000.