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Some insects can do more than just bug you

Pest control specialists from D-Bug Pest Control in Butler spray for insects on a recent job. Submitted Photo

It’s springtime, and the residents of an older home, possibly with standing water or gutter issues, notice a number of long, straight winged bugs in an area of their home.

“You’ll see 50 or more of these bugs that look like ants with wings,” said Zak Lipniskis, director of operations for D-Bug Pest Control in Butler.

The insects are actually termite swarmers that have emerged from the area in or around the home where eggs were laid.

“That’s when people notice them,” Lipniskis said.

He said carpenter ants, which also can do damage to a home’s wood, have three distinct body segments, while termite swarmers have one long section.

Anyone who experiences this phenomenon should call a pest control service immediately, Lipniskis said.

“Swarmers don’t do damage, but if you have swarmers, it’s guaranteed that you have soldier termites that are going to get the wood,” he said. “Swarmers mean there’s a termite colony in your home.”

Lipniskis said the subterranean termites native to Western Pennsylvania need moisture and wood to live on, so when a house has moisture in or around it, termites could settle in those most favorable conditions.

“If your yard is swampy, you’re more susceptible to termites,” he said.

Very few people hire his workers to do termite prevention, as most people don’t think about termites until they have swarmers crawling all over a counter or floor, Lipniskis said.

“I’d say probably only 2% of our termite customers are for prevention,” he said.

D-Bug Pest Control workers usually determine the location of a termite colony by looking in the basement or crawl space under the area where the swarmers were seen.

Pest control experts look for mud tubes, which are tiny columns of mud or dirt the termites use to keep themselves out of the light.

“One tube is too many,” Lipniskis said. “If you find a termite tube in your house, it means they are living there.”

He explained that when a termite finds wood, it releases pheromones on the wood to attract the rest of the colony.

Damage to wood can be extremely severe in a longtime infestation.

“I’ve seen people let it go for years to the point where your foot goes through the floor,” Lipniskis said. “As long as you take care of it when you notice it, it’s not that big of a deal.

“But if you let it go, it’s thousands and thousands of dollars in problems and repairs that will need to be done.”

He said those who see a swarm for the first time have had termites in that building for up to three years.

“When they are calling to say ‘We’ve been seeing a swarm every spring for the last five years, there’s a lot of damage at that point,” Lipniskis said.

Whether damage is not evident yet, or severe, termite bait stations are placed into the ground 10 feet apart around the entire circumference of the building.

“We don’t just protect the area of damage, but the whole house,” Lipniskis said.

The underground bait stations contain a stick of substance that is harmless to humans and pets, but deadly for termites.

The termites take it back to the colony and share it, which spells doom for the colony.

He said studies have shown that termites prefer the substance, Sentricon, over wood.

D-Bug Pest Control returns to the home in six months to see if the bait stations have been eaten, and if so, adds another stick.

They then return yearly to check the traps.

“One stick can last 20 years,” Lipniskis said.

He said as long as the termites get to the Sentricon before eggs are laid in the fall, the homeowner should not see another swarm or anymore termites.

He said the cost to place the bait traps in an average single family home is $1,000 to $1,400.

Lipniskis said anyone who suspects they have termites should call a professional as soon as possible to rid their home of the unrelenting pests.

“Unlike bees or a lot of summer insects, termites are active 24/7, 365 days per year,” he said. “They’re always active.”

A pest control specialist from D-Bug Pest Control spray for insects on a recent job. Submitted Photo
Pest control specialists from D-Bug Pest Control spray for insects on a recent job. Submitted Photo

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