Subterranean termites are destructive feeders causing more damage to homes than storms, fires, and earthquakes combined. The statistics are staggering. In the United States, estimated termite damage exceeds $5 Billion annually. Fifty billion termites infest about one million homes each year (about one in thirty). Termites can be hidden for 10 to 12 years before a swarm becomes visible.
Once termites find an avenue of entry into your home, it is a virtual all-you-can-eat buffet with any wood product on the menu. Lumber, doorframes, wood panels, flooring, sheetrock, wallpaper, books, fabric made of plant fibers, and furniture are all fair game. Termites also leave a chemical trail to let others in the nest know that food is near. Catastrophic events may make the evening news, but when it comes to the worst annual widespread property damage, the silent destroyers, termites, top the list.
The average single-family home has as many as four termite colonies beneath it. With termite queens laying more than 1000 eggs a day, nest populations can reach into the millions. You must kill the nests for the infestation to end. Just like winning in chess, you need to capture the queen.
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The reproductive termites are winged adults called alates, or more commonly, swarmers. Triggered by warmer temperatures and rainfall, swarmers leave their colonies in search of new nesting sites to expand their territory. Swarming season in New Jersey usually gets underway in March and, depending on temperatures, can last through May. Once these new kings and queens arrive at their destination, it’s all business. They pair off with a mate to reproduce and once mated, find a suitable nesting site to begin a life of reproductive bliss.”
Homeowners can do several things to lessen their chance of termite infestation. Termites, like any insect, live to eat and reproduce. That’s pretty much it on their daily agenda. To prevent termites from easily accessing food sources, eliminate wood to ground contact. Many termite infestations result from structural wood being in contact with soil. This includes wood siding, porch steps, latticework, door or window frames and similar wood elements. Also, minimize or eliminate the use of wood mulch around the foundation. For termites, mulch is a delicacy. Stack firewood and scrap lumber away from the home. Don’t store cardboard boxes on the floor of your garage. The object is to remove all potential food sources.
Besides food, termites are also attracted to moisture. They are soft-bodied insects and without moisture, they dry up. Don’t allow moisture such as air conditioner condensation to accumulate near the foundation. Water should be diverted away from the foundation with properly functioning gutters, downspouts, and splash blocks. Drainage problems increase your risk of termite infestation. Reduce humidity in basements with a dehumidifier and crawlspaces using a combination of encapsulation, sump pumps and dehumidifiers.
The surest protection against termite infestation is to work with a pest management professional to conduct a termite inspection and implement treatment barriers that will stop termites from reaching your home. Too many homeowners have a termite inspection conducted when they buy their home and then never give it another thought. That’s unfortunate because some preventative maintenance today can save a homeowner thousands of dollars down the road.
Information provided by: Cowleys Pest Services