Subterranean Termites

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There are approximately 2,500 species of termites worldwide. Most are found in tropical areas, while relatively few live in colder climates. Only about 45 species are found in the United States, and most of these are located in southern states. Four species of termites are reported to occur naturally in Missouri. All of these species are closely related and belong to the genus Reticulitermes.

Termites are generally grouped into categories based on the habitat in which they live. Drywood and dampwood termites live inside wood of varying levels of decay and moisture content. Subterranean termites live in the soil and wood that is in contact with soil. All of Missouri’s native Reticulitermes termites are subterranean. Subterranean termites are found throughout most of the continental United States, while wood-dwelling species occur in the coastal and southernmost tier of states. Wood-dwelling termites can be introduced into other locations of the country through the transport of wood products, although they normally do not spread or become established in these locations.

In natural ecosystems termites are considered beneficial because they help release nutrients from dead wood and other cellulose materials into the soil. In human environments, they are considered serious pests. Due to their widespread distribution, subterranean termites are responsible for most of the termite damage caused annually in the United States. Approximately $4.5 billion is spent annually in the United States to control subterranean termite infestations and repair damage they cause. The most common house-infesting termite in the United States is Reticulitermes flavipes, the eastern subterranean termite.

Hiring a licensed pest management professional
The most important choice you make when dealing with a termite infestation is the decision of which commercial PMP to hire. Do not base your selection solely on advertising or name recognition. Select a company based on reputation, quality of service and reliability. To know whether a company meets your expectations, personal contact is essential. Talk personally with representatives of at least three companies. You should talk to other people who have hired each company. You can call the Missouri Department of Agriculture Bureau of Pesticide Control to do a quick background check. You may even want to contact your local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.

Each company should perform a thorough inspection beforehand and provide a description of the work to be done, chemicals to be used, details of any guarantees and estimated costs. Costs of inspections, treatments and service agreements often vary considerably between companies. It is better to avoid unusually high or unusually low estimates. Study all the information you receive, then base your decision on what is most important for your particular termite situation and which company you trust to do the work.

Most commercial pest management companies are reputable, legitimate businesses recognized by the state. Each company is required to have at least one person licensed to apply pesticides for specific pests or areas of your home. These individuals are required to be familiar with available pesticides, pass written examinations and regularly attend training sessions to renew their certification. The Missouri Department of Agriculture is responsible for licensing, training and monitoring the activities of commercial PMPs in our state.

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