Beware of termites near home

Published 3:51 pm Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Question: I live in a wooded area and I see termites on decaying branches and was wondering if I should worry about them moving to my home.

Answer: Termites are an important part of the natural cycle of turning wood into organic matter. We want this process to occur in the woods, but we don’t want it to move to our homes.

As spring arrives, keep your eye open for swarming termites. Termite swarms are composed of winged male and female termites that fly from their home colonies to mate, disperse and start new colonies.

Dead tree stumps, downed trees and branches, moist wooden fences, mulch around houses, and (most concerning) unprotected wood in your home are favored.

Most native subterranean termites swarm during the day, usually on a sunny calm morning one or two days after a rain. These native termites are dark bodied and have gray wings.

Formosan subterranean termites swarm in the evening and early night and will fly to lights. Formosan termites are yellowish colored and have tan wings with tiny hairs. They are often found in windowsills and swimming pools.

In addition to feeding on the wood in our homes, Formosan termites have attacked more than 50 species of living plants but fortunately are not wide spread. They can construct galleries to the upper stories of buildings to feed on the wood.

Immediately prior to swarming, the termites usually make tunnels upward to a high location: above windows of homes or up the trunk of a tree. Colonies infesting homes usually chew tiny exit holes through sheetrock walls.

Care should be taken to thoroughly inspect homes where swarms have been reported, particularly if the termites swarm within the home. Spring is the best time for termite inspection. Look for signs of mud tunnels on the wall, foundation and pillars of homes.

Visit for more information or attend ACES’ the termite workshop on April 30. Call 879-6964 for more information.