I’ve Got Termites… or Do I?

Authored by Dan Huie

Every year we receive numerous panicked calls. Homeowners everywhere find small, winged things and large, winged things all over the place. Homeowners find winged ants pouring out around doors, windows, showers and toilets. Unsettling large winged things fly around the home in the evening and the first thought… Termites!

Many worried callers have been told their structure needs to be treated for termites and fear ensues. Much of the panic is needless.

So what is going on? Granted, pests are flying and crawling their way searching for nesting sites. The most common of these are a combination of Moisture Ant (pdf) and Dampwood Termites. Each year reproductive of both pests swarm, mate and look to start their own colonies. There is a pest problem, indeed, but is it the pest we are all led to believe?

Ultimately, your pest of concern is water damage and rot! Moisture Ants and Dampwood Termites are “secondary pests”, the primary being water damage and the rot that follows. Both species only infest damaged wood and their damage is limited to just that.

So, what does this mean? The first plan of action is to locate the source… the damaged wood. Since it is water damaged and rotted, it should be replaced. Of course, many of us can’t decide to just rip into a bathroom remodel. If this is the case, what is the next best step? The stop gap answer is to treat the area or void in an effort to eliminate the colony.

For the homeowner this is both good news and bad news. As a homeowner you were prepared for the unknown. Will the exterminators succeed before my house collapses? How much of my home has been devoured by these wood feasting vermin? What will the costs be? The good news is that the pest damage is limited and the pests are controlled with relatively little problem. The bad news is that eventually some work will need to be invested to fix the water damage and/or rot problem.

Hopefully this brings peace of mind to many this season. The pest and the damage is limited! If you know your home is rot free, the problem may not even be yours, but your neighbors. If there is any doubt, contact your licensed, reputable, pest control company to put your mind at ease.

Dan Huie is the Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of United Pest Solutions, Inc. Located in the Bellevue area of Washington state, Mr. Huie has sixteen years of experience with professional pest control involving Human Resource and Pest Management Professional Training. He is extensively involved with the Washington State Pest Management Association (WSPMA) and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).