Termites are known as hidden threats, causing more damage to structures in the US than fires or storms. In fact, according to the National Pest Management Association, termites are responsible for an estimated $5 billion in property damage annually in the US. Whoa!
Generally, we tend not to think too much about pests until we have an issue with them. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really work with termites. We recommend you learn a bit about them now to prevent them from making your home their next meal.
When are termites active?
Clearly, discovering a termite infestation in your home can cause financial headaches, but it can be an emotionally trying experience as well. The thought of thousands of tiny insects silently feasting on your largest investment is enough to upset anyone. Once termites infest a property, they feed 24/7 – even through winter. Worst of all, most property insurance policies don’t cover termite damage.
Many people believe that termites are only active during the spring and summer months. Though flying, reproductive termites swarm in the spring, and thus become visible to homeowners, the colonies themselves remain active all year.
While many other types of pests slow down their activity in the cooler months, termites may actually ramp up their tunneling activity during this time. As cool weather approaches, termites burrow deeper into soil and wood to say warm. As long as they are warm, they can continue to keep working. And as long as they keep working, they keep threatening your home.
Termite infestations rarely begin in winter, but as discussed above, termites in an existing infestation may still remain active. Infestations typically begin during fall, when they seek out moist, decaying wood that they can burrow through easily. If this wood happens to belong to your home, they won’t stop tunneling all through the winter.
How can I tell if I have termites?
Many homeowners first notice signs of a termite problem during the spring when the termites begin their reproductive cycles. There are a few telltale signs of termites to keep an eye out for.
Most termite species cannot crawl freely on the open ground like ants or other pests. Instead, they build mud tubes to serve as roads between their colony and food sources.
Termite activity can be evidenced by wood damage in areas such as a firewood stack, under mulch, and beams of your porch.
When a termite nest reaches maturity, the colony will produce a king and queen who will leave the nest to mate and spread to another colony. These termites are called swarmers because of their wings. They do not live long, but if you see them, they are a sure sign of a mature termite colony.
Even if you don’t see the swarmers themselves, you may notice the wings that they shed during their mating process. The wings are transparent and silvery, an often found on window sills, driveways, walkways, and porches.
How can I prevent termites?
Preventing a termite infestation on your own typically starts with moisture control. Check around the perimeter of your home from the outside looking for any plumbing leaks. Check every faucet, hose, utility connection, and even the AC unit. Any amount of standing water could cause damage to your home and attract termites. Next, make sure your yard is free of excess moisture. Make sure your gutters and downspouts aren’t clogged and are sending water at least 10 feet from your home. Finally, look for any vulnerable wood around your home. Try to cover up any wood that isn’t at least 5 inches away from the soil.
By far, the best thing you can do to prevent termites from destroying your home is to contact a local pest control company. Termites can be extremely difficult to control and exterminate on your own. And even if you are successful in eliminating one colony, there are often more nearby. A professional will have the tools and knowledge to get the job done quickly and efficiently.