Termites Awareness Week was created a few years ago to help bring attention to the extensive damage done by termites and the steps homeowners can take to prevent them. Throughout the year the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) provides consumers with education about termites, but they really strengthen their voice as spring approaches. This year Termite Awareness Week, which is recognized by Chase’s Calendar of Events, will be held March 15-21, 2015. We recently contacted the NPMA with the following termite questions.
What are the most important things people should know about termites?
Termites cause over $5 billion in property damage each year, damage that’s generally not covered by insurance. Homeowners need to understand that these insects – known as silent destroyers – can eat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In fact, a very large colony of subterranean termites can eat through a cup of wood in two hours’ time. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommends that homeowners have a professional termite inspection done every one to three years, depending on the level of termite activity in the region. Generally, warmer weather climates see more termite activity.
Can you tell us a bit about swarmers? What are they exactly and when should we look for them?
Swarmers, also known as reproductives, are young female and male winged termites. In the springtime, after the last freeze, termite swarmers will emerge from their nest to mate and search for a new location to start a colony, which typically includes our homes. As such, termite swarmers, or their discarded wings near windowsills and doors, are often the first (and only outwardly visible) sign of a termite problem.
What are some signs that your home might have termites?
Termite activity can be very difficult to detect; however, here are some possible indicators:
- Termite swarms
- Mud tubes (used by termites to reach a food source) on the exterior of the home
- Soft wood in the home that sounds hollow when tapped
- Darkening or blistering of wood structures
- Cracked or bubbling paint
- Small piles of feces that resembles sawdust near a termite nest
What are the best ways to prevent termites?
- Eliminate or reduce moisture in and around the home, which termites need to thrive.
- Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including entry points for utilities and pipes.
- Remove old form boards, grade stakes, tree trunks and roots near a building, as they may attract termites.
- Repair leaking faucets, fascia, soffits, rotted roof shingles, water pipes and AC units which are outside of the home.
- Replace weather stripping and loose mortar around basement foundation and windows.
- Divert water away from your house with properly-functioning downspouts, gutters, and splash blocks.
- Routinely inspect the foundation of your home for signs of mud tubes, cracked or bubbling paint, and wood that sounds hollow when tapped.
- Monitor all exterior areas of wood, including windows, doorframes, and skirting boards for any noticeable changes.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and 5 inches off the ground.
- Maintain an 18-inch gap between soil and any wood portions of your home.
Do you have any tips on how to select a termite control company?
NPMA always recommends that home and business owners use a pest management professional to protect their properties. Here are some tips on how to select a company:
- Look for qualified and licensed pest control professionals and companies that are members of national, state, or local pest management associations.
- Ask friends and neighbors to recommend professional pest control companies they have used successfully and how satisfied they were with the service.
- Ask to see proper licensing and credentials from the pest management professional that comes to solve your pest problem.
- If a sizable amount of money is involved, get bids from several pest management professionals.
- Don’t rush a decision. Since you are paying for professional pest control advice, as well as skillful treatment, look for someone whose judgment you can trust.
- Before signing a contract, be sure to fully understand the pest species, the extent of the infestation and the work necessary to solve the problem.
- Find out if the pest control company has liability insurance to cover any damages to your house or furnishings during treatment.
- If a guarantee is given, know what it covers, how long it lasts, what you must do to keep it in force, and what kind of continuing professional pest control, prevention and management are necessary.
- Buy value, not price. Do not make a purchasing decision based solely on the lowest cost.