If you’ve been dealing with termites, you may be relieved to see fewer signs of them as the winter months approach. You might assume that, like many insects, termites die off, hibernate, or migrate during the winter months. Unfortunately, these assumptions are incorrect. Termites don’t die in the winter, and it’s important that you don’t let your guard down, even if you don’t see much activity.
One reason that homeowners often miss seeing termite activity in the winter is that they’re not spending as much time outside working in the yard or on the house. The warmer months are typically the time when people do home improvement and landscaping, so that’s when they’re more alert to signs of a termite problem. While the signs of termite activity are less visible in winter, and homeowners are less likely to look for them, the threat of an infestation is very real.
Another reason termites are more easily overlooked during winter is because they don’t swarm in colder temperatures. Termites swarm when they’re creating new colonies, and when it’s colder, they’re less likely to make new colonies and more likely to hunker down in the colony they already have. This doesn’t mean they don’t feed, and in fact, the destruction they cause is not significantly slowed even when the temperature drops dramatically. The temperature inside your home can be very appealing to termites, even if you don’t notice them. It’s important to note that just because you’re not seeing swarms of termites doesn’t mean there are no tell-tale signs: be alert to discarded wings, mud tubes on your floors or walls, and wood powder near tiny holes in wooden surfaces.
Unfortunately, in parts of the country in which it doesn’t get too cold in winter, the queens often lay eggs all year round. They manage this because termites adapt to the weather, digging deeper tunnels in order to stay warm when the temperatures drop. All they require to survive is warmth, water, and food, which means that your warm home is very appealing, especially if you have a dirt floor basement or a heated crawl space.
What can you do to guard against termites in winter? First, pay attention. Look for signs of termites in and around your home, and take proactive measures to keep them at bay.
- Limit the food sources you provide. Don’t stack firewood against the house, or store things in cardboard boxes in the attic, basement, or crawl space. Keeping wood at least twenty feet away from your walls, and using plastic storage boxes, will go a long way towards keeping termites away from your house.
- Prevent entry into your home. Trim tree branches and shrubs that may come into contact with your home, making sure there’s at least a foot between foliage and the surfaces of your home. Keep your roof in good repair, avoiding holes and moist spots that can give termites easy access.
- Manage the moisture. Termites have no exoskeletons, so they need moisture to survive. This is why it’s extremely important to control the moisture in your home if you’re trying to prevent a termite infestation. You can do this by keeping dirt and mulch away from the wooden parts of your home, keeping gutters and downspouts clean, and pointing sprinklers and drains away from the house. It’s also smart to maintain your air conditioner’s drainage system, making sure it carries moisture away from your home.
- Consider an alternative to mulch. Pine needles are a better option than mulch because they’re less appealing to termites and other insects like ants. There are also termite resistant mulches, but the best idea might be to create a barrier between your home and whichever mulch you choose, using pea gravel or another inorganic material.
- Keep your home’s exterior in good repair. Pay attention to little areas of damage, checking all the wooden parts of the exterior for any changes. Windows, door frames and skirting boards can all sustain damage that allows termites to enter the home, or increases the likelihood of water leaking behind the wall. Preventive maintenance can save you from problems down the road, so make repairs promptly, replacing weather stripping and loose mortar around windows and your foundation. Inspect the foundation regularly, checking for mud tubes, wood that sounds hollow when you tap it or paint that’s uneven or bubbled.
- Pay attention to your basement or crawl space. Keep these areas properly ventilated, and make sure a crawl space has a good vapor barrier, in order to prevent moisture from getting into your floor joists and subfloor.
- Have regular inspections by a professional. Most homeowners insurance does not cover termite damage, so it’s important to schedule an annual inspection, to prevent them from causing an unsightly and costly problem.
At MightyMite Termite Services, we can help you keep your home safe from termites, no matter what time of year it is. We diagnose and treat infestations with the most effective methods and unmatched warranties, solving your termite problems the first time, with an industry-best “no call-back rate.” That, combined with our experience, technology, and highly trained professional staff, makes us the leading extermination company in the Bay Area. For more information, call us today at 408-377-3761, email Info@mightymitetermite.com, or contact us through our website.