Written by Jenn Smith, Berkshire Eagle
From a scientific standpoint, termites are fascinating creatures.
There are thousands of known species of the insect, which live and work in colonies, much like bees and ants. A typical colony can contain a million members, more or less, that function as a caste system, consisting of workers, soldiers and the reproducing kings and queens. An acre of hospitable land can contain several termite colonies.
They all subside on consuming cellulose, the organic substance that makes up the cell walls of plants and gives wood its fibrous strength. In nature, they're great at chomping away at fallen and aging trees, agents of decomposition, returning organic matter to the earth. But it's when they turn to making a meal out of your wooden house frame or furniture that these plentiful promoters of a healthy ecosystem are recast as creepy, crawly household pests.
In North America, now's the time to be on the lookout for them.
To educate the public about termites and solutions for protecting homes and properties, the National Pest Management Association is observing the fifth annual Termite Awareness Week, which precedes April as National Pest Management Month.
"When the earth is cold and frozen, termites retreat deeper in the ground. They chew on roots and debris. But as springtime comes around and the ground begins to warm up, they start coming back to the surface," said Michael H. Bensche, director of marketing for Braman Termite & Pest Elimination. Based in Agawam, Mass, the company serves the southern New England region of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, eastern New York and southern Vermont.
"In the Berkshires, it's actually early, pre-termite season," said Bensche, who noted that the dynamics and reproductive cycle of the termites may shift,
due to an earlier onset of spring-like conditions.
Continue reading this article at the Berkshire Eagle.