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Critically Speaking

Jul 22, 2020

In this episode, Therese Markow and Dr. Ed Vargo discuss all things termite - what termites are, the different types of termites, and how and why they are destroying homes. Termites are wood-eating insects and, in their natural environments, they are key aspects of the ecosystem. However, when they get into homes, they cannot determine that the beams used to build our homes are any different than the logs they eat in their ecosystems. Termites are colony insects like bees and ants, however, they are different in their social structure and organizational aspects. Because of this, there can be differences in how they are treated and eradicated. The biggest problem with this, is new species are being introduced all the time due to the infestation of these termites in imported cargo, particularly from parts of Asia. They wrap up their conversation discussing what we have learned from research done at universities and by scientists and how that has affected the way in which we now treat these termite infestations. 

 Key Takeaways:

  • Termites play a valuable role in their natural ecosystem, but they cannot determine the difference between the wood in a forest and the beams of your house. 
  • In one year, one termite won’t do a significant amount of damage, but a colony of 100,000 can do much more damage. If you have a contract with someone to check yearly, damage can usually be caught before it is too bad. 
  • New species could be introduced at any time. Due to the millions of cargo containers that come into the United States every day, there is no way to inspect every single cargo hold. 


"The subterranean termites that I mentioned are the most widespread termites, all the way from Florida on the East Coast up into southern New England - Massachusetts, all across the country to the west coast, up and down the west coast from California to Washington. So just the very northern parts in the Midwest and very northern parts in the east, don't have these termites. The further you go south and the more of these termites you find and so the more likely you are to have an infestation. The dry wood termites occur along the Gulf Coast states and also coastal California." —  Dr. Ed Vargo


Connect with Dr. Ed Vargo:

Texas A&M University: Urban and Structural Entomology Program at Texas A&M University


Connect with Therese:


Twitter: @CritiSpeak




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