As the winter snow starts to melt away and spring begins here in Kansas City, you’re probably facing a laundry list of tasks to get ready for the season. But, while you’re re-planting your garden, getting your lawn ready, and cleaning out the garage for the 12th time, there are more dangerous elements at work getting ready for the season too. Spring is the peak season for termites in Missouri. More specifically, it’s the time when Eastern Subterranean Termites, one of the most destructive species, and the one found predominantly in the state, begin to seek out new structures to feast on. Here are some facts to arm yourself with as you look down the barrel of termite swarm season.
How to Identify Subterranean Termites
Termites function as part of a larger colony, a group of up to 2,000,000 insects that all fulfill different roles in an infestation. Although soldier, worker, reproductive, and queen subterranean termites all contain slight variations in their appearance, they all measure around 1/8th inch in length and have distinct and sharp jaws that allow them to eat through various hard materials. They also appear white, with browner patches near various body parts depending on their role. The workers will be what you see most often, or you may see groups of reproductives, the variety that grows wings and swarms to found a new colony.
Signs of a Subterranean Termite Infestation
The most common sign that you are experiencing an infestation of subterranean termites is the presence of “mud tubes.” As pictured below, these tubes run along the surfaces of various structures and building foundations. Termites build them to protect themselves from the elements. This allows them to gradually reach food sources in otherwise inaccessible locations.
Other warning signs may become visible in your home as an infestation begins to take place. Check for areas of warped wood or pieces of wood that seem hollow when touched. Bubbling paint or darkening of wood structures have also been known to occur. Termites will even leave waste behind. Keep an eye out for small piles of what looks like sawdust in areas where termites could be. Finally, check around your windows for discarded wings. When termites swarm they can attempt to enter your open windows, shed their wings, and begin eating away at wood inside the home itself.
Swarming occurs in the spring, when termite colonies’ reproductive members, the young queens, and kings, embark to found a new colony. These insects will sprout wings and pairs of them will swarm away, searching for an adequate food source. This means that colonies that may have developed yards away from your home can leap establishing themselves in your structure. It’s imperative to stay vigilant for signs of swarmers because once the new queen grows into the area, she can begin laying around 1,000 eggs a day. (Pic of wings by a window or a group of reproductives)
Dangers Of Subterranean Termites
Eastern subterranean termites are specifically singled out for their destructive capabilities. While other species may have preferences for damp or dry wood, or a different entry method, these termites one goal in life is to consume as much cellulose as possible. They are quite good at it too. A small colony can easily eat through most of a 2×4 in about a year. That is also compounded by how the colony grows while it’s feasting on your home.
Furthermore, subterranean termites prefer to eat wood for its cellulose content, but they are perfectly capable and willing to carve their tunnels through your home’s foundation to reach it. This damage can represent an unspeakably high cost to the homeowner. According to the National Pest Management Association, termites alone cause US homeowners around $6 billion of damage a year. Unless your insurance covers the damage, (which it usually doesn’t), you’ll be paying for fixes out of pocket.
Termite Treatment Options
As is always the case, preventing an infestation is the ideal case scenario. However, if an infestation is discovered, it’s important to control the issue and install measures to keep the termites from returning. At Gunter Pest & Lawn, we offer termite inspections, Termite Control, and preventative maintenance for your home. We are an Authorized Operator of the Sentricon® System, a comprehensive termite control system that sustainably prevents termite activity. Explore our termite control services to learn more about what options we can provide to protect your home.
So as you’re opening the windows to the spring air and dusting off your good grilling apron, keep in mind that you’re not the only one getting more active. It’s important to take steps to protect your home from termites here in Missouri and around the country this swarm season.