Taking aim at termites: Long winter and wet, cool spring could spell active season

Taking aim at termites: Long winter and wet, cool spring could spell active season

April 26th, 2014 by Barry Courter in Life Entertainment

Jason Huskey with Lookout Pest Control digs a trench along the foundation of a resident's home.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

OTHER SPRING PESTS

Termites are not the only thing to watch out for this spring. Stink bugs, kudzu bugs and carpenter bees are also active this time of year. Here are some tips on dealing with them:

• Stink bugs and Kudzu bugs: While neither are harmful to humans, they can damage furniture and fabrics with their droppings, and they do emit a strong odor when frightened. They try to get inside where it is warm, so homeowners should check their clothing or belongings when entering and make sure any entry points to the home are sealed up.

• Carpenter bees: They look similar to bumblebees, but have a bare, shiny black addomen. These pests like to bore holes in wood to build nests. The males are the most aggressive but lack stingers. The females can sting, but only if provoked. Carpenter bees prefer unpainted, soft wood, so keeping wood painted is key (stains don't deter them as much.) You can also try plugging their entry holes with aluminum window screening held in place with duct tape. After a few weeks, remove the duct tape and fill the hole with wood putty.

Source: Arrow Exerminators, Mother Earth News

Homeowners can take cerrtain to prevent a termite infestation from occurring:

• Eliminate moisture around foundations. Divert water from the house by using proper downspouts and gutters.

• Seal cracks and holes to prevent termite entry, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home.

• Do not stack firewood or lumber near home, and inspect it carefully before bringing it indoors.

• Keep tree branches, shrubbery and ground covering well trimmed and away from the house.

• Reduce humidity in crawlspaces with proper ventilation.

• Have your home inspected annually by a licensed pest professional who specializes in termite control.

Source: Arrow Exterminators

Jason Huskey with Lookout Pest Control digs a trench before treating the perimeter with a solution to protect the Lookout Mountain home.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

Jason Huskey with Lookout Pest Control treats the perimeter of a Lookout Mountain home.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

Jason Huskey uses a slab injector to get pesticide underneath the concrete.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

You probably don't need to be reminded that we just now are coming out a very cold winter and a wet, cool spring.

Because of it, however, you might need to be reminded to have your house inspected for termites. Those same weather conditions could make for a very active termite season, which Chad Haney, owner of Lookout Pest Control, says is just getting underway. Usually, the insects would get going in late March or early April.

"This year is a late-swarm (termite) season due to the cold temps in March," he says.

The insects also need moisture to survive and Mother Nature has been most accommodating.

"You have all this water in the ground and then, when the temps jump up into the 80s, you get humidity, which they love," he says.

All the species of termites that thrive in our region are subterranean and spend all day eating through concrete, wood, carpeting, floors and wallpaper. They can do a lot of damage in a relatively short amount of time.

Blake Mitchell, Arrow Exterminators service center manager in Chattanooga, says homeowners should walk around their house noting where the dirt meets the foundation.

"Look for mud tubes (going up the foundation or along wood rafters)," he says. "That is an indication termites are leaving the ground trying to get into the house. Or, if you come home and find a bunch of dead insects near a window or a light source, those are termites.

"Also, keep an eye on Sheetrock walls and look for pinholes with maybe mud associated with it."

If you don't relish the idea of crawling under your house to get an even more up-close-and-personal look for termites, call a professional, which you will need to do anyway if you find evidence of the pests.

"There is no over-the-counter treatment or product that will eliminate them," Haney says. "You need a professional to come out."

Haney also suggests using cypress or cedar mulch near the house instead of pine or a hardwood because termites don't care for it.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-413-6354.