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Do Termites Hibernate in Winter?

By Chris Williams on September 22, 2014.

do termites hibernate in winterWe have a customer who has a pretty serious termite problem in her home but doesn’t want to schedule a termite service until next summer. She’s convinced herself that since we are approaching colder winter weather, the termites will stop any feeding activity until sometime next spring. “Well, they must hibernate,” she says. ‘Fraid not, not even here in our cold New England region.

What happens to termites in your region during winter depends on the type of termite you have and just how cold it gets. In warm regions, termites can remain active year round. In cold regions, winter definitely will slow termites down if their nests are outside. Our subterranean termites move deeper into the soil, below the frost line, and do very little foraging. It’s not so much fun tunneling through frozen soil when you’re a little soft-bodied insect. Instead of being active just below the surface of the soil, nests can be as deep as 40 inches during New England’s winter months.

Termites nesting above ground in a tree stump or a woodpile will move closer to the center for greater protection. It’s also possible that the termites’ soil nest is very close to your home and benefits from residual heat from the foundation or a concrete patio. Termites in an unheated garage may slow down just a little bit.

Baby, it’s Warm Inside!

It’s less likely that termites will find and move into your home during the winter months, but if they’re already there, winter may not slow them down much at all. Your home is providing them with nice, temperate, springtime temperatures throughout the cold months. The ideal temperature for termite development (and damage) is around 75°F, probably just about where you keep your thermostat. The bigger concern for indoor termites during the winter is probably moisture. Termites require moisture and homes tend to dry out with central heating. As long as termites have a moist location and a connection between your warm home and the soil, they can remain active.

It’s Never Too Late for a Termite Inspection

So, don’t think that you have a reprieve from termites when the weather gets cold. For termites living in your home, winter is kind of like a balmy island vacation. They’re still there, chomping and grinning. Call a professional exterminator soon or you may be greeted with swarming termites, come spring.

Photo credit: James Niland / Foter / CC BY

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