Subterranean termites present a serious danger to home and buildings and usually requires treatment by a professional. Termite control can seem mysterious, however, and many homeowners often have questions. Below are some common questions and answers about termites.
Q: Why are termite infestations usually found during the spring?
A: Spring is when huge numbers of winged termites, also known as “swarmers,” come out. Termites swarm to start new colonies, and this behavior is triggered by warm weather and rainfall. The termites fly out of their colony, fall to the ground, shed their wings, and pair with a mate to begin a new colony under the soil.
Q: How do I know if my home is infested with termites?
A: Seeing winged termites inside almost always indicates a termite infestation. The flying termites are attracted to light, so they’re often spotted around windows and doors. Homeowners often confuse winged ants with termites, which also swarm during the spring. However, termites have straight antennae, a thick waist, and equally sized wings. Conversely, flying ants have bent antennae, thin waists, and hind-wings that are shorter than the fore-wings. If you have flying termites inside your home they will only live for a day. You can clean up the dead insects with a broom or vacuum.
Termite swarms coming from a woodpile or a tree stump in the yard doesn’t mean the house is infested. However, if termites are swarming next to the foundation or from a porch or patio, chances are the house is also infested.
Other indications of termite infestation are mud tubes coming out over support piers, foundation walls, and floor joists. These mud tubes are usually the diameter of a pencil, but can be a little thicker. You can determine if you have an active infestation by breaking open the tubes to see if there are any small, white worker termites in there. However, if the tubes are empty, it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have an infestation, since termites will abandon a tube while feeding elsewhere.
Q: Do I really need to worry about termites?
A: Termites can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your home. They principally feed on the wood structure of your home, but they can also damage paper, insulation, and even your swimming pool liner and filter system. Termites can kill your trees and shrubs. Besides being costly, having thousands of winged termites flying around inside your home can be an emotionally traumatizing experience.