Swarming termites are also known as alates. Swarming termites are usually a seasonal nuisance as they cannot bite, sting, or even chew wood. While they don’t usually cause damage themselves, they do, however, indicate that there is an established colony nearby. These seasoned termites are capable of causing extensive damage to your home.
When dealing with swarming termites there are three important questions to ask: When do they swarm? Where do they swarm? Why do they swarm?
When Do They Swarm?
Termite swarming season varies by species. Subterranean termites swarm during daylight hours in the spring. Drywood termites swarm in late summer to early fall. Dampwood termites swarm in the summer. Most species of termites have specific conditions they wait for in order to start swarming. They usually wait for the day after a rainstorm, overcast weather, and wind speeds less than 6 mph.
Where Do They Swarm?
Swarming termites are found anywhere termites colonize. Termites can swarm indoors or outdoors, although they cannot survive indoors as there is no soil for them to create their colonies in. Swarming termites are attracted to light and are often found near windows and light fixtures. As termites get ready to swarm, they prepare a swarm tube which they use to launch. When the conditions are right, they use the tube to swarm. After a brief flight which lasts for only a few seconds, they land and break their wings away from their bodies. They then pair with a mate. Those pairs that survive then create a chamber underground that they use to breed and the new colony is formed. Swarm launches are usually spread out over a few days with a large release on the first day and smaller launches on subsequent days.
Why Do They Swarm?
The sole purpose of termite swarms is reproduction and expansion of the colony. The original termite colony reaches capacity and needs to expand. This is usually done once per year, hence termite swarming season. Both males and females swarm at this time. The number of termites that swarms each season varies depending on the size of the colony and the species of the termite.
Because a termite swarm indicates a nearby colony, homeowners should take precaution when one is spotted nearby. A thorough inspection of your home and property should be performed looking for signs of termites. This is also a good time to set up your annual termite inspection if you haven’t already. If you suspect you have a termite infestation, contact a professional pest control company who can inspect your property and set up a termite control plan.
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A home is one of the biggest investments one can make and termite damage can be one of the most costly. Termites can colonize your home and cause significant destruction undetected over a long period of time. This can cost a homeowner thousands of dollars in treatment and repairs.
Termites will colonize near readily available food sources, typically soft or rotting wood. They will seek out these moist areas in and around your home in search of a new colony site. The best plan is always termite prevention. The first step in prevention is recognizing what attracts termites to your home in the first place. Here are five things that could be attracting termites to your home:
Firewood and other wood piles are a huge termite attractant and also provide them with a quick and easy ride into your home. Firewood should be stored at least 20 feet from your home and elevated at least 5 inches off the ground.
As trees die and rot, the dead trees and stumps will attract termites. They will then move from these stumps and trees to your home. Remove and clear any dead trees and stumps from your property.
Poor drainage, lack of airflow, and leaking pipes all contribute to moisture problems in the home AND create conditions conducive to termite infestations. Subterranean termites need an abundant source of nearby water to survive, so reducing moisture is an easy way to help prevent a termite infestation and damage. Consider enclosing your crawlspace to further enhance the overall health of your home, by reducing excess moisture, decreasing humidity, preventing mold and wood rot, controlling pests (including termites!), and lowering utility bills.
While aesthetically pleasing, mulch can actually be a big attractant for termites. Mulch is comprised of wood chips which can retain moisture, making them an attractive food source for termites. Consider replacing mulch with another medium or, if you do use it, try to keep it at least 15 inches from your foundations.
Clogged gutters can lead to damage to your home on their own but they can also be an attractant to termites. As leaves, twigs, and other debris build up in your gutters, the excess moisture can soften your roof and cause it to rot. These soft spots attract termites and also provide them with an easy access point into your home. Keep your gutters cleaned out regularly or consider installing gutter guards to prevent clogs.
Another component of termite control and prevention is the professional termite inspection. There are three circumstances where a termite inspection should be performed:
- As a prospective home buyer. During the buying process, potential homeowners should request a termite inspection which can show any potential termite damage and provide time for treatment and repairs during the negotiation phase of the transaction.
- As a homeowner. All homeowners should have a professional termite inspection every 3 to 5 years. By doing this, homeowners can catch infestations early and appropriate treatments or prevention techniques can be implemented before the damage progresses.
- If termite treatment has been performed previously. Homeowners who have had termite treatments done in the past should also schedule ongoing, routine termite inspections to maintain treatment and monitoring going forward. Most termite control companies offer these services as part of their termite protection plan with their treatments.
If you suspect you have a termite problem, contact a professional pest control company who can provide you with a thorough inspection and comprehensive treatment and prevention plan.
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Termite infestations can cause significant (and expensive) structural damage to your home and property. What makes termites even worse is they usually cause significant damage for a long period of time without being detected.
Spring is an especially critical time for identifying and dealing with termites because that is the time of year when termites swarm to establish new colonies. These swarmers are winged adult termites that mature and fly away from their colonies to continue reproducing. Termite swarming season begins at different times for different species but all of them typically begin when the weather warms up following a significant rain event. For most species like subterranean termites, this falls in early spring. Age is also a factor in determining when termite colonies will swarm. While there is no specific age for a colony to swarm, most colonies aren’t mature enough until they are at least 3 years old.
Swarming termites often gather in areas with low-wind and diffuse light. Swarms can occur over a period of several days. Termite swarms are often confused with flying ant swarms. There are 3 major differences between termites and flying ants: antenna, wings, and body segments. Termites have straight antennae with a slight drooping look while flying ants have antenna that are bent at a 90 degree angle as they come out the side of their heads. Termite wings are basically equal in length while flying ants have front wings that are noticeably longer than their hind wings. Finally, termites have 2 body segments with straight abdomen while flying ants have 3 distinct body segments that narrow at the waist.
Odds are if you notice a termite swarm in or around your property the initial nesting site is not too far away. Termite swarms are a good indication that a termite infestation is imminent. Swarming termites also discard their wings after their new colony is established. Finding piles of discarded wings is also another sign that a new active termite colony is close by.
It is important to periodically check for signs of termites in your home to try and catch an infestation before the damage is significant (and costly).
- Check the exterior of your home and look for mud tubes and small white insects going up the outside of your foundation.
- Tap or probe any exposed wood for hollow sounds.
- Learn to identify termite swarms and keep an eye out for them in the spring.
- Look for other signs of termites in your home such as buckling wood, damaged wood, etc.
- Keep the ground around foundations dry with proper drainage techniques.
- Seal off any points of entry by filling in cracks in concrete foundations and any holes or openings where utility lines and pipes enter the home.
- Consider investing in an annual termite inspection where a professional termite control technician can thoroughly check your home for all of these signs and more.
If you notice a termite swarm this spring or any of these other signs of termites, it’s not too late to act but action should be taken sooner rather than later. With the help of a professional pest control company, you can take quick action for termite treatment while avoiding the costly headache of structural damage to your home. Whether you’ve dealt with termites in the past or just want to avoid dealing with them in the future, investing in termite protection now is always a good idea.
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Termites cost homeowners billions of dollars each year in damages, treatments, and repairs. While traditional termite treatments are extremely effective at eliminating and controlling termite populations, environmentally sensitive homeowners often go in search of more green pest control options. One popular trend on the market today is orange oil treatments. Orange oil is an extract from orange rinds and is commonly used in cleaning solutions and food additives. The active ingredient in orange oil treatment is D-limonene which kills termites on contact by breaking down their exoskeleton and destroying their eggs. Orange oil treatments are the most common no-tent, no move out, organic termite control solutions.
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of orange oil termite treatments:
- Low toxicity and more environmentally friendly than other termite control options
- Effective against drywood termites, carpenter ants, and wood-boring beetles
- No need to move out at night during treatment
- No need to remove plants or board pets during treatment
- No need to bag up food or medicinal supplies during treatment
- No potential damage from treatment to roof tiles
- Not effective against subterranean termites
- Although low toxicity, should not be ingested. Prolonged exposure to oil or fumes can cause skin and eye irritation, nausea and vomiting, lung irritation, and other symptoms
- Product is flammable and combustible once wicked into wood
- Only kills termites on contact and will not kill any undetected infestations
- Treatment requires drilling holes into your walls and other wood components of your home
- Multiple treatments are required as the entire colony is usually not exterminated during a single treatment
- Treatment of larger infestations can be more expensive than fumigation methods
- Treatment can only be applied to existing infestations; there is no residual protection against future infestations
Orange oil treatments are only effective against drywood termites because these pests live and colonize the wood they are infesting. They are not effective against subterranean termites as these pests live in the soil and only come up to feed on wood. Orange oil treatments will begin with a termite inspection to determine the type of termite and the extent of the infestation. Once the areas of termite damage and activity are identified, the technician will drill a hole into the wood and treat the infested areas. Orange oil is then injected into these drilled holes where it spreads throughout the wood beams via capillary action, passing through porous cells in all directions. This kills any termites and eggs on contact. This does not, however, kill any termites that don’t come in contact with the oil treatment. After treatment, the holes are then patched and painted.
In summary, orange oil does, in fact, kill termites but it is limited in its effectiveness. It is considered a secondary spot treatment as it is only effective when it is applied to areas with active infestations. Any termites that remain undetected and untreated will continue to eat, continuing the damage to your home. Because of this, multiple treatments are usually required. These treatments don’t eliminate the entire termite colony, leaving your home vulnerable. Whole structure treatment (fumigation) is a guaranteed method of completely exterminating termites from a structure. During fumigation, the whole house is treated at once. Fumigant gas is used to penetrate the walls, floor, lumber, and other surfaces where termites reside. If you suspect you have a termite issue, contact a professional pest control company who can help identify the type of termite you have, the scope of the infestation, and the best treatment options for your home.
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Home projects ramp up with the new year; out with old and in with new renovations. One thing homeowners should consider is pest protection that secures not only those new projects, but also their largest investment: their home.
Termites work in secret: staying out of sight, tunneling underneath homes, or even worse, inside the home’s structure. Depending on the region where the home is located, weather will play a crucial role in the type of termite species that can invade.
Subterranean termites are considered to be one of the most destructive types of termites. Found in every state in the U.S., they use “mud tubes” from the ground reaching up to the structure. They work to damage structures, weakening them bit by bit by eating 24 hours a day, every day.
Formosan termites are the most destructive of the subterranean species. Working and invading from the ground up, Formosans make up large colonies. Found mostly in the southeast, they can chew through insulation, utility poles, and even wires and cables.
Drywood termites are the sneakiest species as they do not need soil to survive. They are brought into homes in wood furniture, so caution and careful inspection should be taken when purchasing secondhand furniture.
Homeowners should take special care to eliminate areas of moisture as this is a huge attractant to the home for termites. An annual termite inspection with a licensed pest control company is highly recommended to find areas of damage and potential infestation sites and determine a proper prevention and treatment plan.
When it comes to protecting your home from termites, your best bet is not to rely on just luck – termite prevention is critical to minimizing or completely avoiding the costly destruction termites can cause to your home. In fact, some cultures consider termites in the home bad luck. These cultures see termites as an omen of death in the near future for the homeowner; the only way to escape this ill fate is to eliminate the termite colony or abandon the infested home.
If prevention fails, early detection is the next best thing. Termites can cause significant damage to your home while remaining undetected for years. For this reason, annual termite inspections can help identify these pests early, saving you from costly long-term damages.
Prevention is key. Here are a few tips for termite prevention in your home:
Keep Landscaping Neat
Termites will look for any way possible into your home in search of food. Try to reduce any soil to wood contact around your home by getting rid of any lumber, mulch, plants, or wood from your foundation. Try to also keep at least a 4 inch barrier between any mulch used in your landscaping and the side of your home. If possible, use pine straw instead of mulch as it is less appetizing for termites. Keep shrubbery trimmed back at least 12 inches from the walls of your home and get rid of any fallen branches, dead wood, or old tree stumps on your property.
Dry It Out
Make sure your storm drains are directed away from the foundations and that they drain at least a few feet from foundations. Check for and repair any leaky faucets, pipes, or appliances and eliminate any other sources of excess moisture in your home. Keep sprinkler heads pointed away from foundations. If you have a crawlspace, consider crawlspace enclosure to not only help eliminate moisture under your home, but prevent mold, mildew, wood rot, and pests from getting into your home.
Be Mindful of Swarming Season
Most subterranean termites swarm during spring while drywood termites usually swarm in late summer and early fall. Be mindful of termite swarming season and make sure your outdoor lights are turned off at night. If possible, try to relocate any exterior lights to recessed areas away from doors and windows as swarmers are attracted to light.
Do Your Own Inspections
Keep an eye out for signs of termites in your home. Discarded wings and evidence of frass are sure signs you have termite tenants. Other signs include blistering sheetrock, mud tunnels, cracks in your foundations, and a hollow sound when tapping on wood. Make sure the exterior of your home is well maintained to prevent these by inspecting and repairing wood siding and window frames.
Call the Pros
Termites can be difficult to detect for long periods of time and even more difficult to get rid of once they are established. If you suspect you have a termite problem or if you want to get a step ahead of the prevention game, contact a professional pest control company who can set you up with annual termite inspections and, if necessary, a termite control plan.
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