Termite: Beaver of the insect world.
By Richard “Bugman” Fagerlund
Subterranean termites will be swarming soon and there are several things you should know before you decide how to deal with them. How serious is the infestation? The species of subterranean termite most common in New Mexico is the arid land subterranean termite (Reticulitermes tibialis). There is another species found in eastern New Mexico and it has pockets in Albuquerque as well. This is the eastern subterranean termite (Reticulitermes flavipes). In Albuquerque, they are established in an area of the NE Heights known as the Princess Jeanne area. Apparently some either swarmed into the area or were brought in. Eastern subs cause considerable damage and some of the homes in Princess Jeanne have been seriously damaged. It wasn't known until about twenty five-years ago that these termites were in Albuquerque. They are so destructive that many termite companies avoided the area rather than try to deal with them.
You will hear commercials or termite salesmen say that termites cause more damage than tornados and hurricanes and other such statements to get you to treat your home. While the amount of damage done is great, it happens in other parts of the country where eastern and western subterranean termites are found as they are both destructive. The desert subterranean termite found in southern Arizona is also very destructive and any homes infested by any of these species needs to be completely treated. Arid land termites are not nearly as destructive and could easily be controlled with a professional spot treatment but this isn't allowed by the NMDA. They require the professionals to follow the label which requires a full treatment. Unfortunately the termiticides are all tested on eastern subs which do require a full treatment in order to control them. If they tested it on arid land subs, it would be clear that spot treatments are sufficient in controlling them.
If you have eastern subs, you need to get your home treated professionally. Make sure that whoever you use can positively identify them as eastern subs and isn't just guessing. The tibiae of the arid land sub swarmers are black and the tibiae of the eastern sub swarmers is are pale. The tibiae is the second section of the leg between the tarsi (foot) and femur (attached to the body). This should be common knowledge in the termite control industry.
Arid land subs usually cause some damage to sheetrock and in areas where there is a lot of moisture in walls from plumbing leaks, but they will not, as a rule, destroy an entire house. There is nothing wrong with treating your home professionally for these termites, but there are several things you can do yourself if the infestation isn't too severe depending on the location they are found in your home, the construction of your home and the area around the perimeter of your home. A good inspector can make some good do-it-yourself recommendations based on this information.
We also have drywood termites in this part of NM, but they are rare. Usually they swarm in the summer and the swarming termites are brown, not black like the subterranean termites. Drywood termites do not need to have contact with the soil as subs do. They can infest wood anywhere in the house, but are usually in exposed wood, not in walls. Structural fumigation used to be the method of control, but it is not safe and the fumigant is a major greenhouse gas. XT2000 Orange Oil is the best product for professionals to use to control drywoods. If you have a minor infestation of drywood termites, you may be able to control them yourself with good products you can get online. If they are in more than one area of your home, then you need to hire someone who will use a non-toxic product like XT2000 Orange Oil. Don't let anyone fumigate your home. That is very expensive and totally unnecessary.
If you need any help figuring out what kind of termites you have or how to deal with them, I will be happy to help you. My email address is email@example.com. Or call me at 505-385-2820.
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