Q. I want to store firewood close to my house. Could that attract termites?
A. Yes. Keep your home safe by storing firewood off the ground and at least 20 feet away from the building.
Q. I had a termite infestation in the house (but it was treated), and now I am moving. Will I carry termites to the new house through the moving boxes?
A. It is possible to transfer drywood termites to your new home through infested wood furniture. It is not likely that you will transfer termites through moving boxes. To limit the risk, ask a trained pest management professional to inspect your furniture and new house for signs of activity. You also may want to consider a preventive plan to help reduce termite activity.
Subterranean termites typically nest in the soil and move from there to infest wood above ground. Termites in your moving boxes would typically be separated from the main colony, so they would not survive the move. However, if the termites can locate a source of moisture, they can easily survive.
Q. I hear a ‘rustling’ sound in the walls of one room. Could that be termites?
A. Probably not. You may think you hear the sound of winged termites, also known as swarmers. During spring (and sometimes in late summer and fall), winged termites emerge from underground, or subterranean, termite colonies.
It is unlikely that these termites would swarm, or fly, inside a wall void. However, the rustling sound you hear could be caused by carpenter ants or another pest. Be sure to contact a pest control company to conduct a thorough inspection of your home to determine if this noise is related to pest activity.
Q. I spread mulch around the foundation of my house. Will that attract termites?
A. Mulch offers the food, moisture shelter and optimal temperatures that termites need to survive. Most mulch is organic, which means it contains the cellulose used as food for termites. The mulch also conserves the water contained in the ground below it, which creates the moisture termites need. When termites hide beneath the mulch, they have shelter from light and air. And just as we use mulch to serve as a blanket for our plants, mulch helps termites remain at a comfortable temperature.
Experts recommend keeping all mulch at least 6 inches away from the foundation wall of homes. Also, mulch should never be more than 4 inches thick. The thicker the mulch, the more hospitable it becomes for termites, sowbugs, millipedes, centipedes, ants and rodents.
Q. My neighbor is getting her house treated for termites. Will that send the termites to my house?
A. There are two different categories of treatment materials used for termite control – repellents and non-repellents. Your risk depends on the type of termiticide used. Repellent insecticide in the soil around a foundation will discourage termites from nesting near that house, and may prompt foraging termites to look for another source of food – potentially your home. Other products are non-repellent, which means they affect the colony in the treated house or immediate area. Non-repellents are not likely to send termites elsewhere in search of food.
Be sure to tell your pest control company about your neighbor's termite control plan. Your termite specialist should be able to treat your house so the uninvited guests don’t stick around.
Q. Is a termite control treatment safe for people and pets in the house — or do we have to leave for several hours?
A. Applying liquid termiticide to the soil around and under the foundation will not expose people or pets inside the house to treatment. Modern termiticides are essentially odorless and are used at a concentration that is effective against termites, but is not a threat to humans or animals. However, fumigation – a technique in which a home is tented before a gas is injected to destroy termites – does require people and pets to evacuate. Plants and food items should also be removed from the home during treatment.
Q. How many times a year should I have my house treated for termites?
A. A common misconception is that termite control involves a yearly application. Termite inspections, not treatment, can be performed annually to confirm the effectiveness of the termite protection, and identify potential changes in and around your home that could be conducive to termite infestations.
Termiticide applied to the soil around the outside of the foundation should remain effective against termites for many years. The length of time between treatments depends on soil conditions and other factors, but there is usually no need for yearly application. An inspection of your home for potential warning signs of termite activity is the safest option to provide consistent protection of your home.
Q. I have a termite swarm in my house for the first time. Does that mean I already have termite damage?
A. In general, the presence of swarming, or flying, termites indicates that the colony has lived in your house for several years. Colonies produce swarmers when they reach a certain size, and it usually takes a new colony several years to reach that size. If you have a swarm, it is safe to assume that some level of damage has already been done to the house. You should contact your pest control provider immediately to prevent further damage.