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It’s Definitely 'Termite Time'
By Marie Knox

Marie KnoxTermites are and have been swarming in some areas of the country since the early spring. Depending on where you live and what species you have present in your area these swarms may extend well into the summer. One of the questions I am most often asked is “What kind of termite is this?” usually as I am being handed a small plastic bag of wings, alates (whole and in parts) and other ‘trophies” from a recent inspection. I am blessed to live in an area of the country brimming with multiple species of termites and my identification skills are tested often.

Proper identification of the species you’re dealing with is not only important, it is imperative! Treatment options will vary greatly based on the type of termite (as well as other factors like construction type and conducive conditions present). If possible, keeping your ID tactics simple is ideal. If you have just wings to ID from, be familiar with the “leading edge veins” and how many veins are characteristic of the species you have in your area. If you have both Drywood termites as well as subterranean species active in your area, know that Drywoods will typically have three or four leading edge veins while your subterranean varieties have just two. If you have multiple subterranean species to choose from, be familiar with other characteristics like relative size of alates as well as distinguishing features on the wings besides veins (like hairs for example) and variances in body color.

termitesUsing simple termite identification tools will prove helpful and make your job much easier. Make sure you have a good magnifying hand lens (or microscope), a light source and an easy to use identification key. There are a number of keys available from a variety of sources. Use the one that makes the most sense to you. Clear, close up pictures are also helpful when making comparisons and many universities with entomology programs make them available either in publications or in the form of ID Guides for purchase. Many can also be found easily online.

I mentioned construction types and conducive conditions as also affecting your treatment techniques and options in addition to the species of termite you’re facing. It is a very good idea to become familiar with basic building construction and the types of construction used in your area of the country. You don’t need to become a contractor by any means, just getting an understanding of what different types of slabs look like as well as the different termite entry points they each inherently present can be helpful in devising your treatment plan(s). A simple Google image search of key words like “supported slab” or “crawlspace construction” for example, will yield endless drawings and pictures you can use to see what lies beneath all that stucco, brick veneer, siding, and paint.

As always, use visuals like pictures and drawings from reputable sources and if you’re using them for more than your own internal training be sure you are not infringing any copyrights. Hands-on training like digging trenches, drilling slabs, probing to find the top of the footer, seeing what concrete overpour looks like is also important. Reviewing labels and understanding the importance of rates, volumes and inspection techniques on a regular basis are also good ideas. Last, but not least, brush up on math skills at least a couple of times per year. Employing these tips and tricks can help make your company and your termite treatments more efficient, effective and profitable!

Marie Knox is PCO Technical Manager, Control Solutions Inc. She has a B.S. in Entomology and M.S. in Nematology from the University of Florida as well as 13 years of industry experience in basic manufacturing and distribution. She can be reached at mknox@controlsolutionsinc.com.


From the PMP archives

Florida, New York top list of states with worst bug problems
In a national survey, homeowners ranked Florida as the state with the worst bug infestation problems — including ants, termites and cockroaches. Louisiana and Texas were runners-up.

University of Kentucky program to cover termites
The 43rd Annual University of Kentucky Pest Control Short Course will be held Oct. 1-3 in Lexington, Ky. The conference includes educational programs on termites and more.

On the wire

Termites eat through $65,000 worth of Chinese woman's savings
From New York Daily News

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