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VPMA Certified InspectorTermite swarms can be nerve wracking.  One minute you’re minding your own business and the next minute the room is filled with hundreds—or thousands of flying insects.  It’s no surprise that panic is the typical response.

Swarming starts in the spring when the ground begins to warm and the rainy season starts.  This triggers an instinctive drive within established termite colonies to form new colonies.  Swarmers are sent out to do that.  Using any available method to reach the surface (including inactive tunnels), swarmers burst forth from their colonies en masse.  These termites are the kings and queens of new colonies.  They pair off in flight and once they reach the surface, find an area of soft soil where they burrow in and begin the reproduction process, thereby establishing a new colony.  Because swarmers will use any means available to reach the surface, some of the tunnels they use may end up exiting into your home or business.

Understanding the science doesn’t lessen the impact of experiencing a termite swarm.  What can you do if swarmers invade your home this spring?  One suggestion is to get a spray bottle with water and mist the room (provided there are no electronics that can be damaged).  The water on the wings makes the insects too heavy to fly and they will drop to the floor—which is a lot less annoying than them buzzing around your face.  Another likely scenario is that you may come home from work to find dead insects all over your floor, because swarmers only live a short time when exposed to air.

Termites cause over $4 billion in damage annually—more than hurricanes and floods combined.  Because it is a slow, gradual process, you may find your largest asset, your home, heavily damaged before you realize that you have a problem.  Often new homeowners believe that termite damage is covered by their homeowner’s policy, but this isn’t the case.  Insurance policies are designed to cover accidents but damage from termites is considered “normal wear and tear”.  Thus it is up to you, the homeowner, to conduct regular inspections and have preventative treatments for this type of damage.

Mares Exterminating offers a Termite Protection Plan.  For a small annual fee, this plan provides for an annual inspection by a qualified inspector and necessary treatment which occurs while a customer of covered by the plan.  For an additional charge, customers can get a damage guarantee, which will cover up to $25,000 in damages caused by termites while covered by the plan.

Termite Control Options

Fifty years ago, treating termites was relatively simple.  Today, however, concern about the environment and pesticide exposure has changed the industry.  Chemicals have shorter life spans; stricter regulations regarding application have been enacted and new technology has created more options to choose from.

Traditional termite treatment consists of creating a barrier around a structure that termites will not cross—this is called using a repellent.  Termites foraging for food, when encountering a repellent termiticide, will move off in a different direction.  Termites within the structure are unable to cross through the barrier to reach moisture in the ground.  (this is extremely effective provided there is no source of moisture above ground, such as leaking pipes or seals, condensation on ductwork, etc. that can provide termites with the necessary moisture for survival).  Repellents are injected into the foundation with drill holes and by trenching into the soil.  Over time, breaks in the barrier can occur, such as with soil movement due to gardening or various repair work, and these breaks can allow termite entry into the structure.

A newer method of treatment involves a termiticide which does not repel the termites (non-repellent) but which is picked up by the termites when crossing the barrier and its slow action provides that the chemical is carried to the original colony—thus destroying the entire colony or large portions of it.  These termiticides are applied in much the same was as repellents.

Another option available to consumers is termite baiting.  These systems provide for the installation of monitoring stations around the perimeter of a structure at specified intervals.  The stations are checked quarterly to determine if any termite activity is visible.  If termite activity is noted, a slow acting bait is placed in the station which the workers carry back to the colony, thus eliminating the colony.  The greatest benefit of this system is that there is no soil contamination by pesticide.  There is a possibility, however, that termites will bypass the bait station and feast on your home instead.

Because no method is entirely foolproof, regular inspections of your home are very important.