Are Termites a Problem During the Winter?
Winters in the Maryland and D.C. areas are milder than some areas and harsher than others. One thing is certain though; despite how little or much snow we get in any given year, the temperature drops low enough to send most pests out of our lives for an extended period. This leads to an important question: Are termites a problem during the winter?
What Winter Means for Most Pests
Many pests cease to be a problem for humans in the winter. Mosquitoes disappear when the temperature gets below 50 degrees. Wasps die off when the temperature drops and stays below 45 degrees. There are other pests, such as box elder bugs, that find a warm place to gather together and over-winter (a process similar to hibernation).
Some pests, such as rodents, are more of a problem in the winter because they do not hibernate and they need a warm place that provides shelter, food, and water. Rodents are more likely to infest homes in the fall and winter than in any other time of year because inhabited houses provide for all of their needs.
What Winter Means for Termites
What about termites? They are insects, like mosquitoes and box elder bugs, so do they die off or stop moving around in the winter? Are they more like rodents, who are more likely to be a problem in the winter?
Unfortunately, when it comes to winter activity, they’re more like rodents than other insects. If your home has a termite infestation already established, termites will not hibernate or go into a period of rest during the coldest months of the year. Instead, they’ll stay active throughout the winter, eating away at wooden structures and destroying your home.
Why Homeowners Should Always Be on the Lookout for Signs of Termites
When termites get into your house, they don’t stop to rest. In fact, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is or what time of day it is; termites work 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, their work is incredibly destructive to your home.
If you want to ensure that you don’t end up with termite damage in your home, you must always be on guard, no matter the time of year. By getting in the habit of searching for signs of termites and termite damage around your house and property, you can hopefully catch a termite infestation in its early stages, minimizing the damage and costly repairs.
Signs of Termites
Looking for signs of termite activity is not as simple as you might think. You won’t just see them walking around inside your house or discover a nest of them while searching your attic. That’s because termites are not designed to survive life out in the open. The only termites that come out where people can see them are the reproductive termites when they are ready to mate. Even then, they only come out long enough to find a mate, then immediately head back underground.
Termites spend their lives in the dark confines of the earth beneath our feet, or if they’ve found their way to your house, they spend their lives in the dark confines of the wooden structures within your walls. This makes looking for signs of their presence a difficult task. However, although it can be challenging, it’s not impossible if you know what to look for and where to look for it. Let the following tips guide your search.
- Focus your efforts on out of the way places, like in attics and crawl spaces. Although these are not the only places to look for termite activity, they’re a good place to start.
- Look for grooves or channels along the outside of exposed wood. This is a sign of termite activity
- If you find wood that comes in direct contact with the soil, dig down into the dirt to look for grooves on the outside of the wood.
- Check wooden structures in your house for tiny holes. Although termites won’t come out of the holes, they use the holes to push debris out of their tunnels.
- Look for frass outside of wooden structures in your home. Frass is a sawdust-like substance that is the excrement of termites. They prefer their tunnels to be clean and tidy, so they push it out of the tunnels through small holes they make in the wood.
- Search along your foundation walls, both inside and out, for mud tubes. Mud tubes are about the width of a pencil and are made of mud. Termites build them when they need to move from one location to another, but can’t do so without coming out in the open. The mud tubes protect them from the sun and from drying out in the open air.
Periodically knock on the wooden structures inside your home. If they have a hollow sound, termites may be present, building tunnels all through the wood that gives it that hollow sound.
- If you listen very carefully, with your ear right up against the wood, you can sometimes hear termites inside. When disturbed, they’ll bang their heads against the walls of their tunnels, which can be heard by human ears, but you may also hear them as they crawl through their tunnels, munching away on the wood inside.
- Although it only happens at certain times of year, it is possible to see a termite swarm. Reproductive termites come out in the open in a large swarm when they are ready to mate. This typically occurs in the spring of the year. Reproductive termites are often mistaken for flying ants. If you see a large group and aren’t sure what they are, try to get a closer look. Termites have straight antennae, wide waists that aren’t pinched, and two sets of identical length wings.
- Even if you don’t see a termite swarm, you may see the wings they leave behind. After finding a mate, reproductive termites discard their wings before returning to the ground. Since they come out in a large swarm to mate, the wings get discarded all in one area. If you come across a big grouping of wings, it’s a sure sign of a termite infestation.
While the signs of termite activity above are all relatively difficult to discover without making a concerted effort, once termites have a well-established colony in your home, the signs of their presence begin to multiply and become easier to discover, even by accident. The following signs are all indications of a well-established termite colony.
- If your doors or windows become difficult to open or close, you may have a termite infestation. Although this can be the result of other issues, termites often target the wood around window and door frames, making them bulge and change shape.
- If your floors begin to buckle or you notice that they’ve become very squeaky, it could be a sign of termite damage.
- Walls that start to bulge, discolor, or have peeling wallpaper or paint are all signs of extensive termite activity.
- If your ceilings start to sag, termites may be present.
Why Homeowners Should Always Be Actively Working to Prevent Termites
Constant vigilance in looking for signs of termite activity in and around your home is essential in order to identify a termite infestation in its early stages. However, there is a better way. Preventing termites from getting into your house in the first place should be the ultimate goal. By actively working to prevent termites, you can be sure that they won’t get inside and won’t destroy your house.
Termite Prevention Tips
Preventing an unseen pest can seem like a daunting task. How do you stop something that you rarely or never see? It’s not as difficult as it seems.
- First, you want to make sure that you don’t already have termites in your house. You can’t prevent them if they’re already there. Although you are now armed with a lot of information on spotting the signs of a termite infestation, you may want the help of professionals. The service technicians at American Pest are trained experts who can perform a thorough inspection of your home to determine whether termites are currently on your property or not.
- Knowing what attracts termites can help prevent them. Although termites will infest sound wood, they prefer water-damaged wood. Keeping moisture levels low in and around your house, as well as repairing any water-damaged areas, can go a long way in preventing termites from entering your house.
- Even if you don’t have water-damaged wood, if you have wooden structures that come in direct contact with the soil, you’ll likely end up with termites in your house. Reduce or remove all areas of wood to soil contact to help prevent a termite infestation.
The Best Termite Prevention Tip
The best termite prevention tip is fantastic because it will not only prevent termites from getting into your house, but will also eliminate any current infestations you may have. American Pest’s termite control services provide protection against termites 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
We are certified installers and maintainers of the Sentricon® System with Always Active, the number one termite baiting system on the market. Our bait is scientifically proven to be more attractive to termites than the wood in your home. Once termites take the bait, they not only tell other termites where to find it, but they also spread it to other termites. Over a few months’ time, this wipes out the entire colony.
Since termites are active throughout the year, even during the winter, it’s important to look for signs of their presence and do everything in your power to prevent them, no matter the time of year. The most effective way to do this is also the way that requires the least amount of work from you. Contact American Pest to schedule an appointment. We’ll perform a thorough termite inspection and suggest the best course of action to protect your house from these dangerous, wood-destroying pests.
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