Mother’s Day Is A Week Away And You Know What That Means: Termites

Researchers are still trying to understand how best to fight the bugs

Just about every year for a week before and after Mother's Day you can expect to see more exterminators out putting up tents over buildings, trying to fight termites. Swarms of the wood-eating bugs have nothing to do with the annual celebration of maternal figures, but the holiday is tied to part of the year when multiple ecological factors line up in a way that facilitates termite reproduction.

One particular kind of termite, an invasive species to southeast Texas, has shown up in videos, swarming outdoor lights at night — Formosan termites.

"They can build a nest,” said Robert Puckett, an urban entomologist at Texas A&M University, “and they can actually do this inside a structure and that presents some unique problems for pest management."

Puckett said because Formosan termites can remain hidden inside a building for a long time, they can cause much more damage than native termites, which typically live underground and come up inside a structure just to eat, rather than live.

“We know a great deal about their biology and behavior,” Puckett said, but researchers and exterminators are still learning the best ways to fight Formosan termites.

Homeowners can mail in termites preserved in alcohol to his lab for testing. The lab is currently running a trial to find new ways of dealing with the bugs.

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Davis Land

Davis Land

Senior Producer

Davis Land is Houston Public Media's senior news producer. He leads coverage for News 88.7's morning newscasts and coordinates between beat reporters, newscasters, and the Houston Matters team. Before joining Houston Public Media, Land produced for WBUR's newscast unit and Atlantic Public Media. His work has been heard on NPR's...

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