The Emergence of Spring Brings Termite Trouble

By: Calum MacKenzie

What does the month of March mean to you? For most people it means Easter, or the promise of nice weather. For anyone who has suffered a termite infestation, they know that between the months of March and May, termites begin to congregate and search for homes to start new colonies.

These resilient insects can survive in wet climates, desert, mountains or lowlands, and in cold or hot temperatures. Their only weakness is blindness, but it doesn't seem to stop them from finding their favorite food source - wood. Unlike carpenter ants who only chew through wood, termites actually eat it. No home is safe if infested by swarms of these rabid pests. They are responsible for billions of dollars of damage each year, whether it be to homes, swimming pool liners, shrubs, or trees.

How to detect a termite infestation: It is safe to assume, if you find one termite wandering around your home, there are hundreds that you cannot see. One way to detect them is by spotting the hollow tubes they create out of mud joining their nest to their source of food. Using a stethoscope, you can listen to beams or joists and actually hear them chewing away. You may also find baseboard or other trim thinned out or damaged. One sure fire method of detection is when the interior of a support beam is eaten up and the structure gives way.

Often confused with flying ants, termites have straight antennae, a broad waist and wings equal in size. Once they fly in from the outdoors, they shed their wings, find a mate and start eating and breeding - quickly.

Getting rid of these pests: One of the most common ways to deal with an infestation is by using a termiticide or slow-acting poison in the ground surrounding your home. Little by little the insects ingest it in their travels and pass the poison on to other termites. Once it gets back to the nest it can quickly wipe out an entire colony. The termiticide is strong enough to control the termite problem for at least five years.

Another option is to dig small holes around the house and bait them with pieces of wood. A pest control professional will monitor these sites for signs of termite action, and replace the bait with a termiticide that prevents the insects from shedding their skin. Preventing this natural occurrence means certain death for the insect.

Dealing with termites is one of those jobs that are best left up to an expert who is experienced in early detection and in safe use of the poisons and chemicals needed to treat the problem.

How much does it cost? Treating a termite infestation is not cheap. Depending on the extent of the problem, it can run upwards of $1000. It is, however, a lot less expensive than rebuilding the pieces of your home that may get damaged as a result of these ravenous pests.

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