Preventing termites in Georgia homes

By for CAES News

Border to border, the state of Georgia enjoys mild temperatures and more than adequate rainfall, which are perfect conditions for the growth of an abundance of insects, including subterranean termites.

Georgia is part of what entomologists and pest management professionals refer to as “the termite belt,” where termites are common and abundant.

Subterranean termites are the most common type of termite found in Georgia, and the yard of most homes in Georgia will be occupied by one or more related groups of termites, sometimes called colonies. They are called subterranean because they require access to moisture, which is most commonly found in the soil.

Termites eat wood, and because we build homes with a substantial quantity of structural softwood, it is not surprising that some homes may become infested by this hidden pest.

Subterranean termites are persistent. They never stop looking for sources of food and, when they locate and infest structural wood, can do moderate to substantial damage if infestations go unchecked. It is therefore important that homeowners are aware of common signs pointing to termite infestation.

First, homeowners should be aware of what a termite swarmer looks like. Swarmers are male and female termites that fly in the spring each year — most commonly February to April in Georgia.

Soon after flying, swarmers lose their wings, mate and begin a new colony. Another important, outward sign that homeowners should be able to recognize are the telltale mud tubes that termites use to move between their soil home and the wood on which they are feeding.

Termites build hollow mud tubes comprised of moist soil and their own saliva to protect them from predators and from desiccation (drying up). When mud- or soil-like tubing is found anywhere in or on the structure, where it should not be, there is a chance it might be the soil tubing made by worker termites to gain access to the wood in the structure.

Should homeowners suspect that their homes might be infested by termites, it’s a good idea to contact a local termite and pest control company for an inspection. Employees of Georgia’s termite control companies are trained on the nuances of termite control and are uniquely qualified to provide this service.

Pertinent publications to address homeowner questions include University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Bulletin 1209, “Biology of Subterranean Termites in the Eastern United States,” and UGA Extension Bulletin 1241, “Termite Control Services: Information for the Georgia Property Owner,” which can be found at extension.uga.edu/publications.

For more advice on termites and their control, homeowners should contact their county Extension agent by calling 1-800-ASK-UGA1.

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