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Annual Termite Inspection: Get Them Before They Get You

Natural disasters are responsible for a significant amount of damage to homes in the United States. Things like fires, floods, and hurricanes catch us off guard and can ruin our property. But did you know that the amount of damage caused by termites is greater than all natural disaster damage combined? Annually, termites cause over $5 billion worth of destruction to homes in the United States alone, and that’s pretty scary.

So, when was the last time you thought about termites? There are only 2 kinds of homes—homes with termites and homes that have been treated for termites. Having your home treated for termites can save you tens of thousands of dollars in the long run and should be done by each and every homeowner along with annual termite inspections.

Like ants, termites live in colonies that are located deep under the ground. Their colonies consist of several hierarchies that differ physically and in terms of duties to perform. In a typical colony there is a king and queen, workers, soldiers, and reproductives. The workers are responsible for feeding the rest of the colony and are the ones that cause damage to our home.

Once they begin to eat away at your house, damage follows quickly. The average termite colony can eat a 2x4 in a week's time. The larger colonies can eat twice as fast. The size of the colony varies on the type of termites the colony is made of. There are three main types of termites:

  • Eastern Subterranean Termites - They are seen all over and it is estimated that one out of every five homes is infested with this particular type.
  • Formosan Termites - These are typically seen in the South and are considered to be one of the most aggressive termite species in the country.
  • Dry Wood Termites - Found in the southern tier of states, from North Carolina through the Gulf Coast and into the coastal areas of California. They are bigger in size and their colonies are in the millions.

March and April are when we begin to see lots of termite activity. Early spring marks the beginning of swarm season for termites. Swarming is the term used when reproductive termites sprout wings and "swarm" out of the colony looking for a mate. Once a male and female pair up, they immediately start breeding and laying eggs. If you notice winged termites flying in or near your home, it's a good sign there is a colony close by and that you could possibly have a termite infestation.

There are several signs to look for to determine if your house is infested with termites. A more traditional sign is little mud tubes coming out of the outside of your foundation. These are called shelter tubes that termites build to keep themselves safe from predators and sunlight. It will look like a mud tube going up the foundation and is a sure sign of termite activity.

Other signs of termites in the home include damage to windows, ceilings, and baseboards such as paint that has chipped away. Also, pin holes in sheetrock with dirt on the outside. These tiny holes serve as entry points into the interior of your home and termites will often attempt to close the entryway off with dirt to prevent anything else from getting inside.

Once your home has been treated, the product will typically last for 10 years. Although the product lasts a long time, it is important to continue to have your home checked annually for any termite activity.

It is always a good idea to do preventative treatment and get annual checkups. Your home is the largest investment you will ever make in your life, and it's important to have checked. It is a lot cheaper to prevent termites than to wait until you get them because once you have them, you are paying to have them removed and paying to replace the damage.

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Termites are active across the state, from New York City and Long Island to Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany, New York.

What Types of Termites are in New York?
Subterranean termites are known to cause damage to homes in New York. Drywood termites are not native to the state.

Are Formosan Termites in New York?
Formosan termites have not been identified in New York. This species typically lives in very warm locations in the southern U.S.

When Do Termites Swarm in New York?
Generally, termites swarm on a warm day after a rainfall. Swarms may occur during the winter in heated buildings. The swarming habits of the most common species in New York are described below.

  • The eastern subterranean termite swarms in daylight from March to May.
  • The dark southeastern subterranean termite usually swarms during the day between March and June.

More Information about Termites in New York
Although drywood termites are not established in New York, it is possible for this species to travel in wooden objects, such as furniture and wine crates, and establish colonies in the state. Drywood termites have been found in areas far from their native habitats. A licensed termite inspector can help identify species not native to the state.
In states like New York where termites are active and widespread, it is essential to maintain an effective termite prevention and control program. If you own a home in New York, talk to your termite control expert about methods to help protect your home from termite infestations and damage.

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