How to Prepare for Termite Season
How to Prepare for Termite Season
Most homeowners prefer to keep a healthy distance between termite colonies and their living spaces because of the extensive harm they can cause. Although every season is technically termite season, there are times when you want to show extra vigilance against termites. Here are some tips and helpful information to help you prepare for termite season.
When Is Termite Season?
Official termite season varies with each termite species and coincides with their swarming or reproductive periods. When such insects swarm, certain members of their social order fly from their nests in search of mates to start their own colonies. Most subterranean termites swarm in the spring and early summer months.
Unless you uncover a termite infestation, you are unlikely to see termites at other times in the year. That said, termites remain active all year long, and termite activity depends on the termites’ life cycle stage.
The colonies consist of workers, soldiers and reproductive:
The workers make up around 90-98% of termite colonies. These are the essential workers of a termite society — responsible for foraging, building tunnels and caring for the young. All worker termites are blind and colorless, and you likely won’t see them unless you uncover an infestation.
The soldiers make up anywhere between 2-10% of termite colonies. As their name suggests, they form the military force in termite colonies — defending the colony from enemies like ants, responding to breached tunnel walls and keeping the horde safe.
There are three types of reproductive termites. The king and queen are the primary reproductives in any colony — they develop from swarmers and pre-productive termites. As pre-reproductives and swarmers, they have wings that allow them to fly from their colony to create new ones.
Once a swarmer finds a mate and settles down, they shed their wings and become their colony’s de facto king and queen. As such, reproductive termites are most visible after leaving their parent colony and before starting their own.
Besides primary reproductives, there are also secondary and tertiary reproductives. These reproductives only appear in mature colonies and form a rare sector of worker termites that rise beyond their station. These termites can create new colonies if they get cut off from their parent colony. While secondary reproductives have wing pads, tertiary reproductives don’t.
In general, reproductive termites form a small percentage of termite colonies.
What Causes a Termite Swarm?
A termite swarm is a natural part of termite colony development. After a king and queen form a new termite colony, the first eggs the queen lays become worker termites, followed by soldier termites and pre-reproductives. These pre-reproductives become swarmers once their wings mature and the weather warms with spring — and so, the cycle perpetuates itself.
On average, it takes at least five years before a termite colony can start producing swarmers, also known as alates. Once they begin making swarmers, termite colonies can range in size from 50,000 to several hundred thousand. The best way to prevent termite swarms in your building is to snuff out a termite colony as soon as you find one. If you let them be or choose to live in harmony with termite colonies, they’ll eventually overrun your home or building.
How to Prevent and Eliminate Termites on Your Property
Successfully preventing or getting rid of termite colonies in your home requires planning, execution — and often — professional services.
1. Eliminate Moisture in Your Home
One of the first things you can do to prevent termite infestations or limit their spread is eliminate excess moisture in your home. Although not as crucial with drywood termites, you must do so for dampwood and subterranean termites. The latter species need nearby water sources to survive. In contrast, drywood termites get all the moisture they need from humid air.
So, eliminating any source of water a termite swarm can use to establish and sustain their colony is essential to preventing and controlling termite infestations. Here are some things you can do to eliminate moisture in your home:
- Ensure your rain gutters or downspouts drain properly and direct water 5 to 10 inches away from your foundation.
- Look for and fix any leaky faucets, pipes, toilets, tubs or sump pumps.
- Provide adequate ventilation to crawl spaces to prevent moisture buildup.
- Inspect your roof and fix any damaged or missing shingles to prevent rainwater from entering your attic.
2. Remove Food Sources
The primary food source for termites is cellulose, and cotton and wood are abundant in cellulose. Understandably, you can’t eliminate all wood and cotton materials in your home. Still, you can eliminate such sources of particular interest to termites.
These could include:
- Wet or rotting wood inside your home.
- Stacked firewood or rotting timbers around the perimeter of your home.
- Wood mulch — replace with rubber or rock instead, if possible.
- Leaf piles near your foundation.
Fortunately, cotton is not as much of an issue because most of your cotton sources are inside your home. So, if you eliminate moisture and food sources from the perimeter and structure of your home, your cotton should be safe. However, your clothes, linens and carpets are vulnerable targets if termites enter your home.
3. Relocate Vegetation Near the Home
The shrubbery and brush growing against your home and foundation are rich in moisture and cellulose. To ensure your vegetation doesn’t serve as a termite gateway into your abode, remove any shrubs that rub up against your home and plant future vegetation a safe distance from your foundation.
4. Know the Warning Signs
As you do your best to keep termites out of your home, you should also prepare yourself in case termites breach your defenses. If an infestation occurs, your safest option is to call a professional pest removal service. Here are some warning signs of a termite infestation:
- Shelter tubes: Termites create mud shelter tubes to navigate between different colonies and food sources. Most of these tubes occur inside wood, out of sight. If you see any shelter tubes on foundations or crawl space cement blocks, you may be looking at a termite infestation.
- Discarded wings: Once termite swarmers find a livable space to start a colony, they molt and shed their wings. Swarmer wings are white, translucent and larger than the termite body. If you notice discarded termite wings, a colony is likely nearby.
- Swarmers in springtime: Since termites swarm in springtime, it’s essential to be extra vigilant once the snow melts and flowers bud. If swarmers are present in or around your home as the weather warms, a mature termite colony may be inhabiting your home.
- Soft sounds inside the wall: If solder termites sense danger, they bang their heads against the wall to alert the workers. Hearing soft sounds with your ear pressed against the wall may indicate a termite infestation.
5. Get Your Home Inspected
If you’re concerned that termites are living inside your home, the best course of action is to have a professional inspection. If they spot termite infestation warning signs, a professional pest control company will know exactly how to proceed to remove the pests from your home.
While you should take control of your home by setting up termite defenses, calling professionals to confirm a termite infestation can limit unnecessary damage to your home and complications with the infestation.
Call Pestech to Take Care of Termites
At Pestech, our pest control professionals have the knowledge and experience to take care of any termite problem. Whether you have definitive evidence of an infestation that needs taking care of or you want confirmation or reassurance of your suspicions, we can investigate and eliminate your termite concerns.
Call Pestech today for a thorough investigation and prompt termite infestation removal.