Termite Swarms Will Cause Homeowners Problems This Spring
Rough, warmer weather and rain have triggered underground termites to begin emerging more than a month early. Although termites don’t take a day off – ever – feeding year round, they swarm in the spring, looking for new feeding grounds. Experts say the destructive pests are already on the move and looking for places to start new colonies. In the southern US, swarms have been reported in Florida and exterminators expect the activity will move north over the next few months as spring weather arrives.
Spring “swarmers,” as they’re referred to by pest experts, are triggered by warmer temperatures and rainfall. As soon as moist, warmer days arrive, winged termites emerge from their colony and fly off in search of new feeding grounds. Once they find a place, they drop to the ground, shed their wings, mate and burrow into the soil to create a new colony. Unfortunately for them, they are incapable of eating at this time and seldom survive. Their sole purpose is to lay eggs that will create a new colony, which can eat! If you see these swarms inside or outside your home or find their wings in a spider’s nest, or on the window sills of your home (they’re attracted to the light), chances are very good you have a termite infestation problem and should call a professional.
“Homeowners still have time to act to protect their homes,” said Orkin Entomologist Glen Ramsey. According to Ramsey, termites damage approximately 600,000 homes in the US each year. Residents spend an estimated $5 billion annually to control termites and repair termite damage. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), estimates US residents spend at least $1 billion on termite control and repairs each year. The National Pest Management Association estimates the number is closer to $5 billion.
What to Do to Protect Your Home From Termites
Don’t wait until you see termites to take action against them. Termites can infest a home at any point during the year, but they tend to become more active in the spring, especially if the winter has been mild, wet, and damp. April and May are usually the busiest months for the pests, but experts say they’re swarming early this year. “Termites are sneaky,” Ramsey said. “A colony can take up residence in your home without you noticing it for some time.”
If you’re putting off treating your home because you’re selling, don’t wait
Get an inspection as soon as you decide to sell. Many mortgage lenders require an inspection before they approve a loan. You may not have to deal with the termites, but lenders will mandate a full home inspection with a termite clearance report before most loan closings. If your home doesn’t pass inspection, you may lose a sale.
Make self-inspections a regular thing
The first sign your home has started looking like a meal to termites is the appearance of swarms of termites and mud tubes on the side of your home. Termites move and eat year-round in the warmer regions of the country, so take time to walk around your house daily in the spring, and quarterly throughout the rest of the year. Take time to look for signs of mud tubes or insects on your home’s exterior. Schedule a home termite inspection at least once a year so a professional can check out crawl spaces and other spots you can’t reach.
Don’t try to “do-it-yourself”
Termite treatment is not a DIY project. Once you get a few price estimates for termite treatment, you may be tempted to attempt a do-it-yourself treatment. Don’t. There are over-the-counter treatments you can pick up at your local big box store, but you need a professional to do a complete inspection and treatment. IF you’re not comfortable mixing and applying chemicals, drilling holes in your walls and foundation etc., then the few hundred dollars you might save (assuming you do it correctly) isn’t worth it.
Dryness is your friend
When watering your yard, try to keep the foundation around your home dry. Limit any mulch around your home to a depth of 2-inches or less. Termites aren’t attracted to mulch, but they will use it for cover. If there are wood chips in your mulch, they will feed on those. Make sure any mulch you use around your home’s foundation is at least it is at least one foot away from your home. If you have wooden siding on your home, make sure you have at least six inches of dirt, brick, or stone between the siding and your foundation.
What Your Insurance Company May Not Tell You
It’s not that they’re trying to hide it, but unless the homeowner asks, most insurance companies don’t go out of their way to tell you they don’t cover termite damage. Read your policy carefully and ask your agent if you’re covered. With most policies, the cost of repairs and treatment comes solely out of your pocket. The purpose of homeowner’s insurance is to protect a policyholder from unforeseen circumstances. Since termite or other insect damage is often specifically listed as a coverage exclusion in policies, be sure to read your policy carefully to know what’s covered and what isn’t.
If you’d like to more about termites, their life cycle, prevention, and treatment options, view or download our free Homes.Com Homeowners Guide.