Pay close attention to signs of termites

One nice day in early May when you are walking around the outside of your house, you see a swarm of insects with white wings, thick waists and straight antenna. You look closely at them and begin to wonder what these insects are. And then it hits you. These are TERMITES and you immediately begin to panic. Well, you don’t have to panic at all. Just because you see a swarm of termites does not necessarily mean that your home is infested and that it is soon going to crumble before your eyes. What this swarm indicates is that a group of termite adults that naturally live in the soil are leaving their colony to attempt to start a new colony somewhere else.

Most of the swarming termites are very poor fliers and soon drop to the ground and shed their wings. Many are eaten by other insects or birds and a very small percentage of these termites survive. On the other hand, if you see this swarm inside your home or find evidence of shed termite wings, you need to pay attention. It is an indication of a termite infestation close by. Other signs of termites are pencil-size mud tubes on the surface of foundation walls, or mud protruding from cracks between boards and beams. Infested wood normally has a hollow sound when tapped or extreme softness when probed with a knife. Termites feed on wood and can actually digest cellulose which is the basic component of wood. Again, termites feed slowly and there is no need to panic if you discover any of these signs.

If you find any of these signs in or around your home, you should contact an experienced professional pest control firm for an estimate. Homeowners seldom have the experience, the equipment or access to pesticides needed to perform the job effectively. Prices for inspection, treatment estimates and conditions of warranties often vary considerably, so it is a good idea to get at least two to three competitive estimates. Try to deal with an established firm with a good professional reputation and ask them to provide you the names of some clients you can call. Don’t feel rushed to sign a contract. It is more important to find the right pest control firm for your situation. (in South Florida call Alco:  in Broward: 954.427.6008  and Palm Beach: 561.989.9819

 

Insecticides or termiticides

If you want termite control for long periods of time, these termiticides must be applied as a continuous barrier in the soil by using a specified label rate. These barriers are applied in the soil adjacent to your foundation. Any untreated gap in this barrier may provide a way for termites to still enter your home. So some companies may not want to provide a guarantee, especially for spot treatments, due to the high probability that termites may find another untreated point of entry into the house. The firms may offer a guarantee or annually renewable contract for 3 to 5 years after the initial treatment. These guarantees may vary from firm to firm, so it is a good idea to obtain bids for the same type of treatments, inspections, and guarantees.

Now is the time to:

— Watch more flowers and trees show their color blooms

— Keep mowing

— Hope the soil finally dries up enough to plant

— Get outside, walk, ride bikes and enjoy the beauty of spring

Call of the Week:

Q: How can you tell if these winged insects are termites or ants?

A: Ants have a tiny, constricted waist and bent antenna. Termites have large waist and straight, beaded antenna. Termite wings are both the same size and shape while ants have different size wings. Next week, more about termites.

Stuart Hawbaker can be reached at jmatherly@herald-review.com.

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