Once the cold season arrives, and insect activity is no longer visible, you may be tempted to believe that the freezing weather is a signal indicating that your pest problems are over. And with termites
, you may even be convinced you’re out of the danger zone, given that their season
starts in March and ends in November. In reality, your house is as vulnerable to the destructive critters as any other time of the year, because termites are active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Termites are wood-destroying pests that can cause tremendous damage inside the home. Because the signs of their damage are often hidden, they are a significant threat to the structural integrity of a building, costing homeowners an average of $3,000 annually in repairs.
The actual amount of damage depends on the termite species, whether they’re subterranean
, dampwood, or drywood, the size of the colony, and the environmental conditions (type of wood available, temperature and moisture levels, etc.). Damage can range from minor, superficial problems to extensive structural damage that can cause ceilings and floors to collapse. The silent destroyers are tough, persistent, and highly efficient in destroying your house structure in just a few months.
How Termites Get Inside the House During Holidays
Termites, just like many other troublesome indoor pests such as beetles, moths, and tree borers, are hitchhikers waiting for their chance to gain access inside the house via:
- Fall outdoor materials used as decorations, including dried leaves, potted plants, gourds, and pine cones can have termite hitchhikers, but most will die when separated from their colony. Not the same is true for pantry pests such as flour beetles and granary weevils, which will easily find their way inside grain-based food products that are not properly stored in containers with tight-fitting lids.
- Decorations stored in cardboard boxes, especially those kept in damp conditions and locations without air conditioning throughout the year, can be a source of pests and rodents. Start unpacking the boxes outside if you’re unsure of their content, and carefully inspect each item before bringing it indoors.
- Live Christmas trees are also an excellent way for pests such as aphids, bark beetles, adelgids, and spiders to get inside the house, and if they find adequate food and humidity, chances are you’ll be sharing your winter holidays with them. Before bringing your tree inside, make sure to inspect it closely and shake it to dislodge alive or dead insects.
- Firewood that’s stacked on the ground and against the outside walls of the house can increase the risk of infestation with termites, carpenter ants, and other pests when brought inside the house.
Is Your House Vulnerable to Infestation?
Homes most vulnerable to termites are those with:
- hollow block foundations, because the termites can get inside the hollow block and travel upwards inside the house without leaving any traces,
- slab foundations, which are close to the soil and allow termites to tube easily into the structure (not to mention the holes and cracks that offer a fairly easy way into the building)
- inaccessible crawlspaces, whose humidity provide a perfect environment for the development of termite colonies, are at risk, especially because they are difficult to inspect and even more difficult to treat, and
- earth- and rubble-filled porches covered with a concrete cap often help create a termite highway, quickly becoming one of the biggest problem areas for termite activity.
But by far the most susceptible to termite damage are structures where wood comes into contact with the soil near the foundation. According to researchers, 90 percent of termite infestations are directly linked to wood in the soil – doorframes, deck posts, porch supports, etc. – that provide termites with sufficient food, moisture, and shelter for them to reproduce and grow.
Holidays are definitely the least pleasant time to get termites, but reacting promptly and calling a pest control professional
to conduct a thorough inspection will prevent the nasty critters from eating away at your holiday cheer.
About the Author
Daniel Mackie, co-owner of Greenleaf Pest Control, is a Toronto pest control expert well-known as an industry go-to guy, an innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, and is a regular guest on HGTV. Mackie, along with business partner Sandy Costa, were the first pest control professionals in Canada to use detection dogs and thermal remediation for the successful eradication of bed bugs. In his free time, he is an avid gardener.