Treating Termites in MA and NH
By Chris Williams on March 14, 2014.
Katlyn Graham: Hello, I’m Katlyn Graham here with Tim Chace, a pest control technician with Colonial Pest, an entomologist. Welcome, Tim, thanks for being here today.
Tim Chace: Good morning.
Katlyn: This time of year, insects are coming out, more so as we head into the spring. Are termites ever an issue around here?
Tim: Surprisingly, yes. Termites are actually in the moderate level in Southern New Hampshire, at a nice span that runs across North America at about that same latitude. Currently, we’re seeing termite activity as far north as the lakes region in New Hampshire and areas like Nashua, Merrimack, Bedford. Basically, the Merrimack River Valley in the moderate range. It’s something that every homeowner should be concerned with.
Katlyn: How do you know if you have termites?
Tim: That’s interesting. Termites produce what we call swarmers in the spring time. In fact, some of this is taking place right now as the temperatures warm up a little bit in the morning. As the sun hits the soil on the south side of the house, termite colonies can sense those conditions. Oftentimes, they’ll swarm out of the basement of the house near the furnace.
You’ll come down, find a pile of little wings and stuff like that all over the basement. Maybe it happened last year at a little bit smaller level or the year before. Typically, it happens on about the same event time every year. Each swarm will be progressively larger.
A lot of folks think that they’re flying ants, but the termites have four distinct sets of four wings that are all the same size unlike ants which have a larger forewing. It’s pretty easy to tell termites from ants. Also, when the termites swarm their wings fall off, you might just find little translucent wings all over the basement. That’s an indication that something is happening.
Katlyn: Termites can cause a lot more damage than ants, right?
Tim: That’s correct. Termites actually are feeding on wood food sources. Once they make contact with the structure, if there’s available moisture they can continue to eat the house for many, many years typically until someone notices that the termites are actually acting.
Because termites are very discreet and cryptic insects, they’re able to work within the wood. In many cases you don’t even know that anything is happening till a swarm takes place or would. Say, a contractor is doing some repairs, and they find the termite damage itself.
Typically, once you realize that you have a termite problem the jig is up and control measures can safely be made to eliminate the problem. The biggest risk with termites is their damage taking place in an unknown hidden fashion.
Katlyn: Right. It can cause some big damage to your house. If I call in a professional, what do you do to get rid of these termites?
Tim: Well, again the first thing we would do is inspect the structure for areas where the termites are usually found ‑‑ garage door frames, behind the front door stoop, behind finished walls. Areas where termites typically work have something that allows them to be there, we’re pretty familiar with locating those areas and checking for signs of damage.
Once we determined that the termites are in fact attacking the structure or feeding on it, a lot can be done locally to discourage them with light chemical spot treatments to just say, “Hey, this is not a good place to work.” The backbone of our termite treatment today is what we call the Sentricon Termite Colony Elimination System from Dow AgroSciences.
In a nutshell it’s a bait‑based system. We offer the termites bait material in stations. I like to refer to them as restaurants placed around the structure. The termites find this cellulose‑based bait material. They begin to share this throughout the colony, causing colony collapse through certain functions that this bait affects within the termite.
It actually does not affect ants or earthworms. It’s safe for kids and the environment. It affects only termites that feed on it and it’s a wonderful product. It’s absolutely safe and 100 percent effective in every case. It’s our go‑to treatment for termites these days.
Katlyn: Now, say you’ve gotten rid of the termites. What can I do? Do you do treatments to keep them from coming back?
Tim: Well, there’s a lot that can be done from the homeowner’s perspective ‑‑ eliminating food sources like wood piles, stumps, dead trees, bark mulch, landscaping timbers. Termites basically feed on wood, if you go around your property and eliminate wood food sources, you’ve done a lot right there to minimize the amount of termites that can actually be on your property.
Once we’ve determined that you’ve got a termite issue, the Sentricon system can be used as a long‑term management strategy to safely monitor for the activity of termites near the structure and while it’s doing that, actually control a new colony.
Let’s say, for example, three or four years ago we got rid of a termite colony on your property. The Sentricon system has been sitting there since and we’ve had no activity. That gives us some information right there so I can report back to you or the other homeowners that. In fact, the system is in place, it’s working properly and termites have not been located in it for the last several years.
Conversely, we might do an inspection and say, station number 17 has had signs of feeding. At that point, I can tell you that not only have we intercepted a new termite colony. We’ve controlled it or it’s in the process of being controlled as we speak. It’s a win‑win situation if we look at termite management with the Sentricon system.
Katlyn: Sounds like it, really very powerful.
Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Tim.
Tim: It’s a been a pleasure. We’re approaching termite season, so a lot of people will be asking these questions.
Katlyn: Definitely. You’ve been very informative. Thank you.
Tim: You’re welcome.
Photo credit: Patrick Dockens / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND