With Termite Awareness Week approaching March 13-19, 2016, it is important for Southeastern Wisconsin homeowners and businesses to stay vigilant and be aware of the possible signs of an infestation this spring. Known as the “silent destroyers,” termites cause an estimated $5 billion in property damage each year – that’s more damage to homes and businesses than all other natural disasters combined. Adding to the challenge, termite presence is difficult to detect as their activity is hidden behind wallboards, siding or wood trim.
The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and Wil-Kil Pest Control are celebrating the fifth annual Termite Awareness Week, March 13-19, 2016 to bring awareness to termite prevention, detection and treatment. Although termite treatment is most effective when performed by a licensed pest control professional, it is important that individuals know the signs of a termite infestation and become familiar with prevention methods to combat the invasive insects.
Signs of a termite infestation:
- A termite swarm. In early spring, swarming termites (known as alates) are generally the first sign of an infestation and often appear on windowsills or near indoor lights. Many homeowners mistake termite swarms for flying ants. However, if you find an insect that looks like a flying ant but does not have the three distinct body segments of an ant, you’ve found a termite! Swarming termites have four wings of equal length, straight and beaded antennae, and broad bodies, whereas flying ants have four wings of unequal length, bent antennae and may look more “pinched” in appearance.
Other signs of a termite infestation include:
- Mud tubes (known as subterranean termite shelter tubes) 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 resemble sawdust near a termite nest
- Damage around the home, such as a your fence, porch, patio or deck
- Discarded wings near doors or on windowsills, indicating swarmers have entered the home or swarmers themselves, which are often mistaken for flying ants
Once you determine that you have termites in your home, it can be extremely difficult, nearly impossible, to eliminate each one of them on your own. If homeowners notice any of these signs, they should contact a pest control professional immediately.
Termite prevention methods:
- Eliminate or reduce moisture in and around the home. Termites need moisture to thrive. Divert water away from your home’s foundation by installing properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks. To reduce humidity, install ventilation in crawl spaces and avoid planting shrubbery and dense foliage close to the home.
- Eliminate all wood-to-soil contact. This includes attached fence posts, stair casings, trellises and door facings. It is best to maintain an 18-inch gap between soil any wood portions of the home.
- Routine inspections. Perform routine inspections around your home to check for signs termite damage. Subterranean termites are easier to identify because of their mud tubes. Dry wood termites are much more difficult to identify and generally require a professional inspection.