Now that the holidays are firmly behind, many Houstonians try to forget these chilly winter months and look forward to spring. Flowers and trees will bloom once again, and Houstonians can open their windows and feel the warm spring breeze before it gets unbearably hot and humid in the summer. Spring in Houston is a favorite for most, but with the warm weather comes one of the city’s most hated pests — the termite.
As millions of other insects wake up with the warm weather, so too do termites. These pests may be little, but if left alone, they can cause thousands of dollars in damages to your home. They can do damage to your home’s foundation, causing serious structural problems around your home, and unless you get rid of the colony, they will keep eating their way through your home.
It’s no surprise that most Houstonians fear termites above all other pests, and since Houston has a subtropic climate, termites thrive here. So as termite season approaches, what can you do to protect your home and prepare for a potential infestation? Here’s everything you need to know about termite season in Houston before it actually starts.
When is termite season in Houston?
Termite season in Houston changes from year to year depending on the temperature and the amount of rain that falls, but overall, it usually starts in mid-spring. Warm, rainy springs can jumpstart termite season, but no matter when termites get going, you can expect that they’re going to be hungry and looking for food — like your home.
By late spring and early summer, termites are in full swing and hard at work building their nests. New colonies usually form in the later summer when king and queen termites swarm and look for new mates. After finding new mates, the king and queen will branch off and start building their own colony. Both work to build the nest until the queen is ready to start laying eggs, usually anywhere from one hundred to thousands per day.
For the first few generations, the king and queen termites will raise the eggs until they hate and become larva. Depending on the pheromones and temperatures that the eggs are exposed to, the larva will either become solider or worker termites. Soldier termites protect the colony while all other termites work to build it. At this time, both male and female termites are born, but there’ not division of labor, and all are born sterile.
This cycle will continue on for years until the queen is ready to start laying the first round of new kings and queens. These termites will hatch and eventually leave the colony, ready to swarm and start their own colonies somewhere else. Most termites live for one to two years, but queens can actually live for 25 years — that’s impressive for an insect.
For Houston homeowners, it’s important to understand the life cycle of termite colonies. The more you know about them and how they operate, the more prepared you’ll feel in protecting your home from these awful pests.
What type of damage can termites do?
The type of damage done by a termite colony largely depends on the type of termite itself. The two most common in Houston are subterranean and drywood termites.
From the names alone, you can probably guess how these pests operate. Subterranean termites build their tunnels underground and create entire colonies within them. These termites usually start outside and work their way into your home near its foundation.
Drywood termites love to eat through wood — really any type of wood. The wood in your walls will suffice as will any antique furniture that you have.
When left to their own devices, both termites can do an untold amount of damage to your home. Termites can eat through an entire log, leaving it hollow sounding when you knock on it. As mentioned, termite queens can live for up to 25 years, which means colonies can keep growing and creating new swarms.
Termite damage can affect your foundation and make your entire home unsafe. What’s more, the damage is often not covered by most homeowner’s insurance policies, so check with your insurance company to see how you may be covered.
Termites cause some of the most expensive damage, and if your home is unlivable while the repair construction is going on, you may be stuck with hotel bills along with contractor bills. The best way to avoid having to pay those bills is to recognize termite damage and stop it as quickly as you can.
Top signs of termite damage
One of the best ways to head off an infestation is to make sure you’re familiar with signs of termite damage. When you know what subtle and obvious signs to look for, you’ll be more likely to spot the beginnings of a problem before it gets to be too out of hand. Unfortunately, termite damage is often more subtle than obvious, so it’s important that you pay attention to what your house is telling you.
Here are some of the top signs of termite damage in Houston:
- Swollen floors and ceilings: When your floors and ceilings look like they may be filled with water, that may not be water after all. It could actually be a sign of termite damage.
- Buckling wood: Similar to swollen floors and ceilings, bucking wood can be a symptom of water damage, but it can also be much more insidious.
- Mold or mildew smell: Termites give off a smell similar to that of mold or mildew. If you can’t find any leaks or any other signs of mold or mildew around your home, then it could be a termite colony.
- Discarded wings: When termites take off and swarm, they fly away, but when they finish mating and land to start a new colony, they discard their wings. You know a new colony is starting when you can find piles of discarded wings around your home. Even if you find discarded wings in your yard, you should consider calling a green pest control expert to take a look around your home.
- Tunnels around your home: Subterranean termites create tunnels underground, which can obviously be difficult to see, but many of their tunnels start around the foundations of the home. You should be monitoring the foundation of your home to check for termite tunnels as well as swarms.
- Clicking sounds: When you’re sitting alone at home at night and you hear an odd clicking sound, that may be the sound of thousands of soldier termites warning other termites of danger. It could also be the sound of worker termites eating your wood. Either way, you will hear the noise, so if you hear something off, it’s best to get it checked out.
- Cracked veneer or seeable tunnels: When drywood termites get into the wood in your walls and furniture, you will see the veneer start to crack, and you may also notice the tunnel mazes rising up and becoming visible through the wood.
How to prevent termite infestations in Houston
Though termites are small and determined, there are things you can do to prevent them from taking over your home in Houston. By taking preventative measures, you can lessen your chances of a termite colony forming nearby at all.
Here are our best tips for preventing termite infestations in Houston.
Trim the bushes around your home
As mentioned, kings and queens swarm when it’s time to mate and start a new colony. They look for places with easy access to their food source — wood — and out of the way from predators. To most termites, the heavy bushes along the sides of your home look like the perfect spot to mate, and once the mating is done, those termites will be looking for a home. Since your home is right there, it’s an easy jump for king and queen termites just looking for their first starter home together.
If you have bushes lining the sides of your home, it’s best to keep them trimmed so they don’t provide as much cover for termites. Removing them is also an option as this provides no cover to termites and gives you peace of mind. Before you plant bushes near your home, think of the potential termite infestation and plant them elsewhere.
Recycle any spare wood or cardboard
Homeowners who like to do their own home improvement projects are used to having wood and cardboard lying around their garages and sometimes in their yards if they’re in the middle of a project, but all that wood and cardboard attracts termites. Sure, the wood isn’t attached to your home, but much like the bushes, it serves as a sort of pre-dinner meal. Once termites eat through it, they’ll look for another food source nearby, and they’ll almost certainly settle on your home.
Home improvement projects can do a world of good for your home, but if you have spare wood and cardboard lying around, pick it up and recycle it. You can also move it to a secure location, such as a shed or attic if you don’t want to get rid of it just yet. The goal is to get it away from termites so they won’t move onto your house once they’re done with the wood.
Wood is just one material that attracts termites. Water is also a big attraction for termites because they, like any other pest, need it to survive. If your basement leaks during the rainy spring days or your faucets have been dripping under your sinks, get these repaired right away.
Though major basement repairs to stop leaks can be expensive, that expense will pale in comparison when you have a termite infestation and your foundation needs to be repaired. Doing these minor repairs now will save you a lot of money later down the line.
Schedule an inspection
The awful thing about termites is that you sometimes won’t spot an infestation or colony until it’s too late.
To better protect your home, it’s a good idea to schedule an annual inspection to let a professional take a look around your home. At Natran, our experts will look for signs of colonies and potential entry points, providing you with a game plan for preventing termites. If a colony is found, our experts will work with you to set up a plan of attack and get rid of those termites once and for all.
What to do if you find a termite colony in your home
It’s a homeowner’s worst nightmare to find a termite colony in a Houston home, but it doesn’t mean that the homeowners needs to pack up and leave the home. It only means that it’s time to call in an expert.
At Natran, our green pest control experts have seen thousands of termite infestations across Houston. They know how to spot serious termite problems and what steps homeowners can take to better protect their homes from termites. Using botanical-based products, our experts will attack the colonies and identify spaces where termites are getting into your home.
When you call in our experts to investigate a possible termite investigation, our experts will scour your home from top to bottom, looking for potential signs of an infestation. They’ll help you assess your likelihood for an infestation and work with you to come up with a strategy to prevent an infestation. If they do find signs of an infestation, they’ll walk you through the next best steps and what you can do to mitigate the damage.
When a termite colony moves in, you don’t have to move out. Give the green pest control experts at Natran a call and see how our green methods can rid your home of termites without using harmful pesticides.
Share with us: Have you see any signs of termites in your home? Leave us a comment and let us know how our green pest control services can help.