"Where did all these gnats come from?" I
asked, noticing some small bugs on the living room carpet. Closer
inspection revealed they were not gnats at all, but tiny black ants with
wings. Ants? With wings? Why would I have winged ants in my living room?
It canít be TERMITES, can it? PANIC! Iíd better
call the bug man to check it out.
The call to the exterminator was not encouraging.
"It sounds like termites. They are swarming everywhere. I have so
many calls I canít keep up with all of them. Iím going to do a job
on your street today, so Iíll come by and look."
I had that feeling of dread. Iíve heard termites
make mud tunnels on the foundation. I went outside and looked. No
tunnels, but the windowsill was full of the critters, and thousands of
tiny pairs of wings were left behind.
The termite inspector came and confirmed my worse
fears. "What we have here are subterranean termites." He went
on, "Itís a pretty big problem. They live in the ground, and we
use a chemical method to inject a poison barrier in the ground around
Subterranean? I canít even spell it and Iíve got
it, I thought miserably. I was in no mood to argue, about bugs with the
munchies. I wondered when the roof would come crashing in.
of them! HURRY!"
"We have to drill into the ground and that means
through the concrete patio and the garage floor."
He then proceeded to enlighten me about termites.
"You are lucky! When they swarm they are getting ready to mate and
create new colonies. It is a warning. Those are the kings and queens.
They donít do the damage. When they swarm, there are millions of them.
People always panic."
"The worker termites are white. They are the ones
that do the damage. You never see them because they stay in the ground.
They build mud tunnels up the foundation to get into the wood. Problem
is, they donít always build on the outside of the foundation; they can
also build inside, even in the holes of concrete blocks."
From the looks of my living room, those royals must
have had one heck of a honeymoon.
I later found out that there are different ways to
treat for subterranean termites. The exterminators can inject a
barricade into the ground that the termites detect and, theoretically,
wonít go through, or inject a poison barricade that termites canít
detect, or even set traps to attract them and let them take the lethal
poison home to the colony, since termites are social insects.
"We inject a barricade that they canít detect.
They dig right through it. When it gets on them, it gives them a fungus
that they then take back to the colony." This was far more
information than I really wanted to know.
Itís mass murder, I thought. I would be responsible
for killing thousands of bugs with biological weapons. I tired not to
think of tiny termite screams, as I momentarily felt a pang of remorse.
Wait a minute; they are eating me out of house and
home! I canít feel sorry for termites! They do more destruction that
any natural disaster and my house is their choice for a buffet banquet.
So, I hired a hit man to do the dastardly deed. The
bug professionals came with coveralls, tanks, and drills. They drilled
for what seemed like hours. All the stuff in my garage had to be moved
away from the wall to make room. What a mess! The poison was injected,
the holes refilled and the worse was over, except for paying the bill.
"They were in the wood," confirmed the
termite man. "They have started on the main supporting beam under
your house. Fortunately, no damage yet, lucky thing you found them this
year instead of three years from now."
Funny, I donít feel very lucky Ė on the other
hand, I suppose the termites are having a worse day than I am.