Spring time - the most important time of the year - for your home!
The rainy season such as it was, will soon come to an end, the temperature will rise. This will trigger subterranean termites to swarm. You may have seen “black ants with wings” coming up out of the ground during the spring. Sometimes they are just ants; sometimes you’re not so lucky. The easiest and most distinguishing difference is that ants have a visible “pinched in” waist area like you might imagine on a wasp. Termites do not have a visible “pinched in” waist area. Good rule of thumb, if you see more than one of any type of insect, check it out and try to determine if its friend or foe. We encourage people to try and take a good close up picture and send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to advise you weather you need onsite help or if the insect is a non-structural nuisance.
In our more rural areas, houses situated among trees, wood boring beetles may be your most important pest problem. Look for small holes in your siding or framing below your house. If you have active beetles you will notice frass coming out of some of the holes. It will look like powder or narrow pellets. Beetles tend to like wood with a high moisture content. So work on ventilation and moisture diversion away from your crawlspace.
The most damaging and pervasive damage is not termite damage, its fungus rot decay. Fungus decay like any other plant needs certain environmental conditions to thrive. Fungus thrives in excessive moisture and temperatures in the 65-80 degree range. That’s spring around here. First place to check is your crawl space. Is the ground wet? Even damp can be a problem if ventilation is reduced. If you have standing water now or after periods of hard rain, you should correct immediately with gutter diversion or sump pumps. Inspect your home and subarea below during a hard rain and try to determine the “flow” of water on your property. In the summer or fall you can work on grading and exterior drainage for the following rainy season. Check out the subarea framing to determine if your house is “sweating” or suffering from condensation. Many homes are under-ventilated or the vents have been blocked by additions, decks, storage, plants etc... Improving your ventilation is generally inexpensive and can compensate for damp soil in the subarea. The next most common area for fungus to grow is the bottom side of your decks and porches. Shine a flash light up on the bottom side of your deck. Do you see splotchy, white areas? That may be the start of fungus decay. You may need to have the framing checked by a professional pest and fungus inspector to determine if the fungus can be treated or if the wood needs to be replaced. Please remember it is not legal for contractors to remedially treat fungus, they can however remove and replace the infested framing or decking. It is legal for homeowners to do their own treating or employ a branch 3 pest control company. If you choose to do your own treatment please read all labels prior to treatment for proper safety precautions and use. Remember you will get the product on you so you will need coveralls, gloves, goggles, and approved respirator. Keep your deck gaps clean and clear of tree and pet hair debris your decks will drain and breathe better. Try not to place potted plants directly on top of deck as this will trap water and accelerate rot damage.
Spring is the best time to inspect your home for termite-rot- excessive moisture conditions which can be corrected during the summer and fall after the areas have dried out. So don’t forget that you should show your home just a little attention this spring, your home will appreciate it.
owner of Mendo Lake Termite
30+ years of inspecting homes in Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma counties