If you've just moved to an area of the country where termites are a regular threat, you might be wondering just how much of a fight you're in for. How do you protect your home? Do clouds of these things descend on any wood sources in a frenzy? The good news is that you can calm down; there are ways to fight these things off, and other than a few minor issues, you're not going to have to do much at all. It's good to learn the basics about termite protection, though, so you know what you're dealing with should you see anything termite related.
One of the enduring symbols of termite protection is the big, colorful tent that surrounds a home being sprayed for an infestation. Know that it is more common for tenting to be done when a house is being sold. Tenting can still be done on a house that is not being sold if an infestation has gotten out of hand, but if you discover a termite problem after you've occupied the house, there are other methods that exterminators can use to eliminate the problem provided it isn't a massive, out-of-control infestation.
When buying (or even renting) a house, find out when it was last fumigated for termites and have a pest-control company do a termite inspection before you buy (you can work that into the purchase agreement as a contingency). If you've already bought and didn't do an inspection because you didn't know any better, get an inspection done now to ensure that anything that might be around doesn't get worse. And don't worry that you'll have to have the place immediately tented. As mentioned, there are other treatments that allow you to stay in your home during treatment.
You should also learn what the various incarnations of termites look like because that will help you figure out what to do. Seeing a few dead adult termites in your home in late summer and early fall is a lot different than seeing a few live baby termites.
A Few Adults Here and There
Speaking of those adults, if you see a few adult termites, either dead or alive, winged or having lost their wings, during the hottest part of the day in late summer and early fall, don't worry. Really. That's their swarming time (don't worry about that either yet), and it's not unusual to see a few adults each day. Key is that lack of worrying is that the termites are adults and that there are few of them. Those are basically scouts that just flew in. Give it a few days and then call a termite-control company to do a basic inspection if you're still worried. You don't have to do that, actually, but it can make you feel better to know that you've had a professional look for signs of a newly established termite territory.
Termite damage is rather interesting; they chew down into wood, forming a series of holes that seem to enter the wood at an angle, forming what look like tubes. If you do see anything like that appear on your property, call a termite company immediately. Signs of damage mean termites have taken hold, but they can still be eliminated. If you have the home treated or know the house was treated and find damage that is old (assume it's been inspected so you know there are no nests in there), have the damage repaired and closed up.
Swarming Versus Hatching
You're outdoors, and you see a dreaded swarm of termites near your home. When the bugs swarm, they do fly around in annoying clouds. But they move on. However, if you can see a definite starting point for the swarm, like they're all moving away from something on your property, go look at where they're coming from. If it turns out they're coming out of something, that's unfortunately not a swarm but a hatching. In other words, there was an infestation that you missed.
If you see this, or if you have any other questions, call a termite-control company immediately, even if the termites were on something remote like a fence. You need to up your termite-control game quickly. And if you haven't seen any, and you just want to be sure your home stays termite free, you can arrange for regular service to ensure your home stays that way.
Talk to a company such as Tri-County Termite & Pest Control, Inc. to get started.