“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 can’t be TERMITES, can it? PANIC! I’d 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 can’t keep up with all of them. I’m going to do a job on your street today, so I’ll come by and look.”
I had that feeling of dread. I’ve 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, “It’s a pretty big problem. They live in the ground, and we use a chemical method to inject a poison barrier in the ground around the house.”
Subterranean? I can’t even spell it and I’ve 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.
“Get rid 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 don’t 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 don’t 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, won’t go through, or inject a poison barricade that termites can’t 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 can’t 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.
It’s 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 can’t 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 don’t feel very lucky – on the other hand, I suppose the termites are having a worse day than I am.
Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss