Abandoned homes become termite time bombs
Abandoned homes become termite time bombs – New Jersey Pest Management Association
According to a mid-2011 Bloomberg News report, “Disposing of repossessed homes is one of the biggest headaches for lenders in theUnited States, where 1,679,125 houses, or 1 in every 77, were in some stage of foreclosure as of June,,,”
“Abandoned homes are literally termite time bombs”, says Leonard Douglen, Executive Director of the New Jersey Pest Management Association,
“They represent bad news, of course, for their former owners and the housing market, but they are bad news for neighbors because termites that move into an abandoned home are less likely to be detected and eliminated in a timely way.”
Spring begins the natural cycle in which an existing colony of termites sends forth large numbers of winged termites to set up new colonies. “Along with fire and flooding, termites are one of the greatest property threats to homeowners and other structures.” Estimates of the nationwide cost of the damage termites do every year range between five and six billion dollars.
Based on normal feeding activity, it can take from three to eight years for a termite colony to do serious damage to any structure. Experts believe that, under ideal conditions, a termite colony of 60,000 workers will consume one foot of a 2-inch by 4-inch pine word in 118 to 157 days. Termites eat wood, flooring, sheetrock, wallpaper, plastics, paper products, and fabric made of plant fibers.
“It should surprise no one,” says Douglen, “that that a termite inspection by a pest management technician will identify such potential points of infestation.” The bad news is that a colony of hundreds of thousands of termites may operate in different locations throughout a structure. In addition to Subterranean Termite species, there are also Damp Wood and Dry Wood species.
“By far the Subterranean termite species pose the greatest problem,” says Douglen, “because they are the most difficult to control as their nest may be below ground.”
The most visible sign of an infestation are the mud tunnels termites build to access a structure, often against a foundation or pier post, and frequently visible in basement void areas under porches and other parts of the home.
The Eastern Subterranean Termite is among the most common in the tri-state area. Homeowners are advised to eliminate any water leaks in the roof and other areas, and inspect the system of gutters that keep water away from wooden surfaces. Crawl spaces in attics or basements should be kept dry through ventilation or vapor barriers. “It is essential to eliminate all wood-to-soil contact,” says Douglen, “and to avoid having mulch against the structure.”
Douglen advises homeowners in neighborhoods where there is an abandoned home to get their own property inspected, “It is essential to know that the person hired to inspect has the proper credentials and training to insure that, if a termite colony exists and that he can find it.”
An untrained inspector or one lacking sufficient training can easily miss the signs of an infestation. Termite infestations go unnoticed because, though eating wood throughout a structure, termites rarely break through the surface areas of the wood, leaving it intact.
“In the springtime the most visible evidence of a termite infestation are the winged “elates”, those termites whose job it is to start new colonies. This mating flight of hundreds and, in some cases, thousands, usually lasts from three to five days.”
The presence inside a home of winged swarmers is a guarantee that the structure has a termite colony.
Douglen notes that people sometimes think they are winged ants because “ants and termite swarmers not only look similar, but they come out at the same time for reproduction, either to expand their colonies or to start a new satellite one.”
The termite swarmer is drawn to any light source such as a window or where the sun is shining on a wall. The usually drop their wings. “A termite has a straight body compared to an ant which has a pinched waist. The termite’s antennae are straight while ants have an elbowed antennae.”
Douglen recommends gathering a few samples of the winged insects and seal them in a plastic envelope such as a sandwich bag. Then call a pest control firm. “They will send a technician who has been trained to identify various insect species.”
Pest control professionals recommend that you vacuum the uninvited winged invaders, but expect to have to repeat the process for several days. Mother Nature always deals in massive numbers.
“Pest management professionals have the licensing and certification, and the training to provide the best protection and to eliminate an existing termite infestation,” says Douglen. “This is definitely not a do-it-yourself project.”
Contact: Leonard Douglen @ (800) 524-9942
New Jersey Pest Management Association
P.O. Box 24, Livingston, NJ 07039
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