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Update on Termite Information

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March 19, 2019

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about an update on termite information. Hello, I'm Amy Myers and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Dr. Blake Layton, Mississippi State University Extension Entomologist. Dr. Layton, it's termite season and of course we should be concerned all times of the year really, but the spring kind of is a time where we should be more concerned. First, tell me who needs to be concerned about termites?

Blake Layton: Termites are our most economically important insect in the state, so that means we spend more money on controlling termites and repairing termite damage than we do for any other insect pests we have including fire ants of the [inaudible 00:00:48] pest. So, it's an important pest for anybody that owns a building in the state, termites occur in every county of the state and if you have a house or a commercial building, it's not a matter of will it be attacked by termites if you don't take preventative action, it's when will it be attacked by termites?

Amy Myers: When our houses most likely to be attacked by termites?

Blake Layton: That can occur any time of the year. Termites are out there 365 days of the year, they're subterranean, so even in cold weather like we had earlier this winter, they were still working down there in the sole and moving into the wood in our house that's heated if they're in a house, so they're active all year long, so we need to be concerned about them all year long.

Amy Myers: So even with that said, why do we hear about them in the spring time?

Blake Layton: There's a few reasons for that but one of the main ones is because this is when termites swarm. And that swarming can occur anywhere from late January to February down on the Mississippi golf coast, to even into June up in North Mississippi and the swarming is when we have reproductive termites leaving a colony, flying out, they develop wings and they're trying to go off and establish new colonies, and so people see them then, and so that's why we hear more about termites in the spring.

Amy Myers: What exactly is a swarm of termites?

Blake Layton: A swarm is a way that termites reproduce themselves, they live in these subterranean colonies, mostly full of wingless workers and soldiers and just few reproductives, but at swarm time, they've produced a lot of these un-mated, winged, young reproductive termites male and female, and on swarm day they all fly out of the colony, they're hoping to mate up, land in the ground, establish another colony. Most of them don't succeed but unfortunately some of them do and that's the way that they establish new colonies.

Amy Myers: So, what does seeing a swarm inside the house mean if you see a swarm inside the house?

Blake Layton: So that's an extremely important tip to you that hey, I've got a termite infestation. And I sometimes have people call and say, "We saw these swarmers but they went away," well yes, they're going to go away but if you have a swarm that emerges in your house, they came from an established colony and one that's probably been there five years or longer eating on your house, so it takes them that long to really get established and produce swarmers, so it's a real wake up call. Hey, I've got termites, I need to have something done to get control these termites.

Amy Myers: Let's just say I'm walking around my house, and I see a swarm somewhere on the outside of my house, what does that mean?

Blake Layton: Yeah, that's a really good question Amy, because termites are a normal part of nature. They're supposed to be out there in the woods eating dead logs and dead stumps, so if you see a swarm emerging from a wooded situation well away from the house or even more than, let's say 25, ten feet away from the house, that's not cause for concern. That just means termites are doing what they're supposed to do. If you see that swarm emerging from right around the foundation of the house, they could still be coming from a stump or something but they could also be emerging from the house and that was your chance to see the swarm. In that case, you definitely want to get things checked out.

Amy Myers: So they could have been under the house in the beams? Like if you have a conventional foundation, they could be somewhere in the foundation beams that are holding the structure up?

Blake Layton: Exactly. If they're within a foot or two of the foundation, you need to get it checked out very carefully.

Amy Myers: For information about the environment that creates infestation for termites and for other information, where can we go?

Blake Layton: So, Amy, we have this publication called Protect Your House From Termites and so, that's an extension publication you can get at your county office, or through our extension website. We also have a website devoted specifically to termites, and the quickest easiest way to find that is just to do a search for termites Mississippi Sate.

Amy Myers: The Mississippi State Extension website is and then just go to publications, is that correct?

Blake Layton: That should find it Amy.

Amy Myers: Today we've been speaking with Dr. Blake Layton, entomologist. I'm Amy Myers and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Department: Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology

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