While the billions of cicadas that are currently invading the Eastern and Southern U.S. may be grabbing the headlines, entomologists have issued a warning that an insect plague with potentially far more serious consequences may be in the offing. Favorable weather patterns could make it a banner year for termites.
The results of a recent survey of entomologists at the Entomological Society of America found that 95 percent of these insect experts believe that weather patterns have a direct effect on insect populations, with 85 percent agreeing that termites are the most affected. “Since insatiable termites thrive in warm, moist conditions, elevated temperatures over the last few years and this season’s unusually warm and damp weather have created an ideal environment for wood-boring insects to wreak havoc nationwide,” said the bulletin.
“Termites do not fare well in dry, cold weather; that’s why they forage inside homes,” observed Byron Reid, Ph.D., a Bayer Environmental Science termite development manager. “While future weather conditions in top termite markets will be ideal for colonies to experience a population boom, it does not mean that homeowners will necessarily see the increase. Termites are silent destroyers and will be at work within the house. That’s why it’s so important to have a trained pest management professional (PMP) inspect your home.”
The experts are convinced that the increased moisture plays a pivotal role in increasing termite populations ” — 77 percent of the termite experts polled say that it has a moderate to great impact, which may prove more destructive than in years past,” said the bulletin. “In fact, 83 percent of the respondents said that the increased rain in many of the top termite markets will mark the beginning of a more active termite swarm season this year — specifically, in top termite markets in the southern and northern parts of the U.S.”
According to the survey the wood boring insects cause more than $2.5 billion in structural damage every year, and that rate is accelerating. While homeowner’s insurance protects against damage caused by storms, floods and fires, it rarely covers damage caused by termites.
The bulletin noted that “homeowners can protect their greatest financial investment and reduce the chance of a termite infestation by scheduling an annual termite inspection. It also warned that for “homeowners considering a move this spring, termite inspections are critical prior to the sale. Depending on the amount of structural damage from a previous termite infestation, costs can be prohibitive for the seller to fix, which may jeopardize the sale — especially considering the fact that homeowner’s insurance does not cover termites.”
“Termites can eat away at a home year-round,” warned Chuck Cole, marketing manager for Premise(R), a liquid termiticide that offers immediate structural protection. “Simply getting the home inspected annually for termites, just like one schedules an annual check-up with a doctor, is an important preventative measure.”
The bulletin listed the following steps homeowners should take to insure protection:
Limit the supply of moisture to the foundation.
— Prevent shrubs, bushes and vines from growing over vents or touching the house. Keep gutters and vents free of clutter and debris. Rake, bag or burn leaves immediately. Any wood source, including mulch, is an invitation for termites to feast.
— Wood mulch can also attract termites. When using wood mulch in a flowerbed or garden, avoid contact with siding or frames of doors and windows.
— Schedule an annual “check-up” or inspection at least once a year from a Premise-certified pest management professional (PMP), trained in detecting and destroying termites. Many companies conduct an initial inspection free of charge.
In the battle of the elements, Mother Nature’s wrath has important consequences around the globe now and in the future. In fact, close to 60 percent of entomologists answered that termite populations are guaranteed to increase at least 10 percent over the next five years. So, as part of 2004’s spring/summer cleaning regime, homeowners should continue to keep termites at bay by scheduling an annual inspection,” the bulletin concluded.
For more information about protecting your home from termites, or to locate a PMP in your region, call 1-800-843-1702. For more information on weather and its impact in your area, visit http://www.noaa.gov.
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