A lot of Midwesterners seem to believe that termites can’t live this far north. Unfortunately, that’s DEFINITELY not the case. Common species of termites can and do live all over the Midwest and the rest of North America. In fact, termites are considered the most destructive wood pest in Michigan.
The first step to preventing termite infestation in your home is understanding how and why you’re at risk. Here are the answers to a couple important termite-related questions.
Do Termites Live Around Here?
Yes. Some species of termites only live further south, but that’s unfortunately not true of all of them. The Eastern Subterranean termite is the most common termite in North America. They live all over North America, from Texas and Ontario to Utah and New York. As a general rule, it’s smart to assume that if you’re in Plunkett’s service area, you’re not exempt from the possibility of termite infestation.
Why Are Termites a Problem?
The Eastern Subterranean termite feeds on the cellulose materials found in almost any kind of wood, including siding, framing, structures, furniture, trees, and frames. They can also feed on cellulose in paper, books, and cotton.
A termite colony can consume up to five grams of wood per day. Termites that go unnoticed can inflict considerable structural damage. Infestations can last virtually forever if left unchecked, because Termite queens can lay 5,000-10,000 eggs a year while infesting a building. Termites inflict billions of dollars in structural damage every year.
When is ‘Termite Season’?
When the air temperature reaches 70 degrees, winged termites called “swarmers” emerge from their over-winter nests to seek mates. After mating, coupled termites break off their wings and start looking for a nest. The queen starts producing eggs as soon as they find a good spot, and soon a colony forms.
Our cold winters generally kill termites, but colonies may survive by waiting out the winter indoors. As you’re no doubt painfully aware, it takes a bit longer for summer to roll around in the midwest, so termite season might be slightly delayed. Colonies may begin to form in early- to mid-June. Right now, in other words!
What Attracts Termites?
Termites want to build nests where they’ll have wood, water, and shelter. Termites get dehydrated easily, so prolonged exposure to the sun kills them. To compensate, they burrow down to feed on wood from underground. They especially like moist soil.
Water also attracts termites, because they can use it to keep hydrated as they feed. Outdoor wooden materials like decks, lawn furniture, or posts are especially attractive infestation targets. Finally, termites like rotting or damaged wood, because it’s easy to access and stay hydrated inside of.
How Can I Tell If I Have Termites?
Learn to recognize signs of infestation like these to prevent termite damage fast. Look for the small discarded wings of swarmer termites for evidence of early infestation. Developing colonies may also build mud tunnels near the wood of your home to gain access without leaving soil.
Termites eat wood from the inside out, so it’ll be difficult to see damage until they’ve been at it for quite some time. If you’re worried about damage, start looking for it in your basement, crawlspace, or cellar. Test wood for structural integrity and inspect its surroundings closely.
What Can I Do To Keep Termites Out?
Replace damaged wood. Wherever possible, make sure no wood touches soil directly. Invest in hard plastic covers or treatments to apply to wood that has to touch the ground. Remove wooden debris like tree stumps, fallen branches, or posts from your yard.
Ensure your downspouts, gutters, storm sewer, and sump pump are working properly. Ventilate basements and crawlspaces to reduce humidity. Repair any plumbing leaks. Make sure termites can’t squeeze into your home. Termites can fit through openings as small as 1/16 of an inch, so don’t assume even a tiny gap is termite-proof. Pay particularly close attention to areas near heat-generating appliances like your furnace or water heater.
What Should I Do If I Have Termites?
Give us a call! It’s difficult to permanently eliminate a cockroach infestation without professional help. Termite eggs are well-hidden in walls and hatch quickly, and effective DIY tools for termite removal are not readily available.
We have the equipment and experience required to safely and effectively eliminate termite colonies. The longer an infestation lasts, the more damage it can do, so if you suspect you have an infestation, don’t hesitate. We’ll let you know what damage has been done and how to prevent it in the future. Have a great, termite-free summer!BACK TO BLOG