Of all the insects in the insect world, termites have an amazing reputation. People believe that they can eat your entire house. They can take down a building in as little as a few hours. Termites are impossible to get rid of. These statements are all myths. But one pressing question is do termites eat sheetrock? They do damage it. Termites will eat into the paper on the outside of it.
Termites will eat the wood studs that the sheet rock is nailed to. This means that often they will eat the stud and then find the sheet rock attached to it. They will start eating the paper, and then find the gypsum underneath. They can’t eat this gypsum, but will bore through it by mistake, or searching for more wood. In an Oklahoma pest control issue, you would be looking at subterranean termites. Subterranean termites will fill those holes back in with mud. Drywood termites would not.
TYPES OF WOOD THAT TERMITES PREFER
Do termites have a preference on the wood that they feed on? They actually do. In a study by the United States Department of Agriculture, they put termites and wood to the test. They took formosan termites and tried feeding them ten different types of wood. The ten types were redwood, birch, spruce, southern yellow pine, red oak, Brazilian jatoba, Peruvian walnut, Honduran mahogany, teak and Alaskan yellow cedar. They let them feed on these woods for six weeks and then recorded the results.
Of the ten woods, six of them showed some level of natural resistance and caused an average of better than 75 percent termite mortality. Yes, redwood, Brazilian jatoba, Peruvian walnut, Honduran mahogany, Alaska yellow cedar, and teak actually killed termites. Teak was the most potent one and southern pine and spruce were their favorites. Why is this? Many woods produce allelochemicals, or chemicals that act as repellants or toxicants in termites. Woods with more of these chemicals would be more repellent of termite damage.
WHAT DOES TERMITE DAMAGE LOOK LIKE?
The termite damage that your Tulsa exterminator would be looking for can vary. In Oklahoma, our predominant termite is the Eastern Subterranean Termite. This termite must live underground, or it will dry out and die. Because of this, this colony must build tunnels out of mud and feces. So, one of the common signs of infestation are these mud tubes.
As termites bore through wood, sometimes they will bore small holes out the other side of the wood. They use these holes to eject frass from their tubes. Frass is refuse such as molted skin, feces and dead termites. If you see multiple frass holes on a post, this can mean that you have an infestation inside this wood.
WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?
As stated above, termites in Oklahoma are subterranean. They live underground and dig exploratory tunnels out from the colony to find food sources. If they find your home, they will build tunnels up the side of the wall to find food sources. Once they find a piece of wood, they will begin to excavate it, and build a tube on top of it. As they eat more of it, they will build a larger tube, called a utility tube, to carry off more of the wood.
If they need to, they can also build a return tube. This tube will come from the house and return to the ground. Return tubes are usually lighter in color. Because they are using materials from your home and not dirt from the ground, the tube has a lighter look to it.
CAN THEY FLY?
Some termites are equipped with wings. These termites are called alates. Alates are also known as reproductives. They come in male and female. When a colony has reached a certain size, it will start to produce these reproductives. Sometime in late spring, the colony will build a tunnel known as a swarmer tunnel. These tunnels are about four to five inches high, and are open at the end.
From these swarmer tunnels, the alates, or swarmers will emerge and fly away. They will find a swarm of other alates from other nearby colonies. When a female alate finds a suitable male alate from another colony, they will land and mate. Their wings will fall off, and they will begin to dig and create a subterranean chamber. Here, the queen will start laying eggs, and the king will tend to them until they hatch. Once hatched, the elder workers will take over the job of tending to the eggs and larvae. The king and queen will live the longest, usually up to ten years.
Sometimes alates will show up inside a building. If you find reproductives in your home or in your window, you need to make sure that they are actually termite alates. Ant reproductives look a lot like termite reproductives, so you should know the difference. The easiest way to identify them is their body. Do they have narrow spots or waists separating three body segments? If they do, then they are ants. Termites have straight bodies. If you can not tell, then it may be time to contact a Tulsa pest control company that specializes in termite work.
SHOULD I REPLACE MY SHEET ROCK?
If you have sheet rock that is damaged by termites, the short answer to that question is no. If you replace the sheet rock before removing the termites from your home, you will just give them something else to eat. Its time to call in an Oklahoma exterminator to treat your home for termites and remove them.
Once the termites are removed, it will then be time to call a contractor to identify all the damage that must be repaired and get an estimate. In that estimate, the sheet rock should be included.
HOW DO I GET RID OF TERMITES?
Unfortunately, there are no effective home remedies for termite infestations. The methods used by professional pest control companies are more than the average home owner can usually do. So if you are in a situation that you need help with, feel free to contact us here at TermMax Pest Control. We’re here to help!