Owning a home is a significant investment, usually the biggest one that people make. It stands to reason, then, that this investment should be protected from anything that might damage it or reduce its value, especially termites! Oh, you didn’t think those existed around here? There are some important things you need to know about termites, friends. Our technical director, Stanton E Cope, has compiled some information about termites you might appreciate if you own property.

7 Things You Should Know About Termites

Approximately 600,000 homes are damaged by termites in the United States each year, at an estimated cost of $5 billion dollars! Folks, that is $5,000,000,000!!! Yikes! Oh, and most homeowners insurance policies DON’T cover termites and termite damage (check with your preferred company). Here are some common questions about termites to help you recognize and deal with these pests. Termites are very present in the Midwest. We see them every single day. And not to freak you out, but they are known as “silent destroyers” because you usually don’t see them until damage has already been done. It can be a nightmare.

Termite Damage Under Siding learn about termites

  1. What are termites?

    They are highly social insects that live in colonies. Now, that DOES NOT mean that they all hang out together and party! It simply means that there is a specific division of labor among the different types of termites, which maximizes efficiency and growth of the colony.

    Close up of termites on ground from Franklin Pest Solutions

  2. What do termites eat?

    Everybody knows that termites eat wood. But they have also been known to chew their way through soft metal, insulation, and plaster. Termites feed on cellulose, which is difficult for other creatures to digest; however, termites have special enzymes and microorganisms in their gut that allows them to convert cellulose to a delicious, nutritious meal. Besides wood, termites will munch on books, paper, insulation, living trees and shrubs, and even swimming pool liners and filtration systems. Talk about a bad actor!
    termites eating baseboards and windowsills

  3. How many kinds of termites are there?

    There are about 220 termite species worldwide, with 45 native to the United States. Here we will focus on the Eastern subterranean termite (Reticulitermes flavipes), the most common species in the Midwest and the most economically important one in the US.

  4. Where do termites live?

    Subterranean termites nest in the soil, or in contact with it, usually near a food source. Moisture is a must so humidity in their nest and foraging tunnels must stay high or they will desiccate (dry out). Termite colonies grow slowly and can take up to 3-5 years to mature.

    Subterranean termites in dirt learn about termites

  5. Why do we usually only see termites in the Spring?

    Spring is typically when large numbers of winged termites, known as ‘swarmers’ or ‘alates,’ emerge either in a building (house) or perhaps in the yard from tree stumps, woodpiles, etc. Seeing swarming termites, especially in one’s house, can be unsettling and is a sight not soon forgotten. Swarming enables the colony to disperse and form new colonies, and the behavior is usually triggered by warmer temperatures and rainfall. Termite swarmers inside the home do no damage, only live about one day, and can be easily removed with a broom or vacuum. But don’t ignore them. They could be a sign that there’s a colony on the property or very close by, at least.
    swarming termite

  6. What are the signs of a termite infestation?

    Termites are cryptic creatures, so infestations may go unnoticed for years, while damage is progressing behind walls, floor coverings, and other areas where we cannot see easily. If you find winged termites in the house, especially around windows and doors, that is almost always an indication of an infestation that should be inspected and treated by a professional. Also, seeing swarms of termites emerging in the yard doesn’t always indicate that the house is infested. However, if swarmers are emerging next to the foundation or from porches or patios, better call a pest professional! Other signs of infestation are earthen or ‘mud’ tubes over foundation walls, support piers, sill plates, floor joists, etc.  These are termite ‘highways’ from the soil to their source of food (i.e., your house!)
    termite damage behind drywall in flooded basement

  7. Don’t ants swarm as well?

    Yes, they do and it can be at about the same time of year. Don’t confuse winged termites with ants; termites have straight antennae, a uniformly thickened waist, and wings of EQUAL size. Conversely, ants have elbowed antennae, constricted (skinny) waists, and forewings that are longer than the hind wings. Take a look at this image to see the differences in appearance.
    termite swarmer vs ant swarmer

What happens if I get termites?

Having termites doesn’t mean you’re going to have to pump tons of chemicals into the ground. Technology is wayyyy more advanced in our industry nowadays compared to a couple of decades ago. We use Sentricon, an eco-friendly, unobtrusive termite baiting system that also serves as a preventative measure against future termite infestations.

Check out this video to see how it all works.

Sentricon is available to you by our Franklin expert Authorized Operators. And it’s also included in our Healthy Home Maintenance Program Plus Sentricon (HHMP+). We’re happy to give you a free quote and assessment for your property. If it has been longer than 2 years since the last time your property was inspected for termites and other wood destroying insects, reach out to us. We’re here to keep your home protected and your environment healthy!

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