Now that spring is here there are a lot more in our lawns and gardens than blooming flowers. We’re beginning to see plenty of insects and other pests that thrive this time of year, which calls for a home termite inspection and treatment.
According to the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, termite activity accounts for more than $1.5 billion in property expenses each year in the United States.
That’s a lot of wood for supper.
Among those is the eastern subterranean termite, an ant-like creature that feeds on wood. They swarm in the springtime when a part of a colony spreads to find a new home and build its own nest.
The swarm consists of up to a thousand or more flyers that look like ants with wings approximately twice as long as the insect’s body, although the termites that live underground and consume wood do not have wings.
According to the University of Arizona extension services, termite swarms peak in April and May. They most commonly occur in the mornings following a light rain or shower when the ground temperature is around 70 degrees.
If a property owner notices a termite swarm, it’s a good idea to hire a professional pest management agency to conduct a termite inspection.
A typical inspection will take about an hour (longer if it’s a large house or shorter if more than one inspector is working). The technician should check the baseboards, around plumbing and electrical conduits, and along visible sections of the foundation.
If an inspector finds evidence of an infestation, the pest management company can give you an estimate for treating the house to remove the infestation. Consult a construction contractor or even an engineer for estimates of repair costs.
Preventing termite infestation requires specialized tools and knowledge; the only people who recommend do-it-yourself treatments are the people who sell them.
Anyone else, from industry regulators to home builders, will tell you to leave it to the pros.
Termite treatment consists primarily of two methods: Chemical barriers and baiting systems.
A chemical barrier involves the injection of a termiticide into the structure’s perimeter (either soil or concrete, or occasionally both). The termites cannot reach usual entry points into the house without passing through the toxic chemicals.
A baiting system involves the installation of bait stations in the ground at regular intervals around the property. The bait is made up of growth regulators that are eaten by worker termites and taken back to the colony.
The bait inhibits the termites’ ability to molt, which causes death. No matter which approach is taken, follow-up inspections should be planned and carried out. It may take a few months before the property can be guaranteed to be free of termites.
Just because you notice a termite swarm in your back yard doesn’t mean your home is infested. It definitely means it’s time to call termite control services.
If you do, however, find a nest, do not disturb it; it will likely provoke the termites to relocate and spread the colony farther.