Seasonal and Climatic Termite Concerns In The Modesto and Turlock Area
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Originally Posted On: https://reliabletsolutions.com/pest-control/seasonal-termite-concerns-modesto-turlock/
When people think about our beautiful California Central Valley, there are probably a few things that come to mind. Amazing wine, delicious produce, huge dairy farms, Hilmar cheese, among others. But did you know that due to the agricultural richness of the area, Turlock and Modesto are a perfect haven for termites.
Are Termites Really a Problem in Modesto and Turlock?
Absolutely! Overall, there are about 50 types of termites in the US; the only US state without termites is Alaska. That being said, there are areas of the country more likely to be affected. Termites prefer warm weather; southern and southwestern states and Hawaii that have warmer weather year-round are at greater risk for infestation. Here in California, we have the perfect warm climate termites love.
Understanding How Climate Affects Your Termite Prevention and Pest Control Needs
There are countless ways that the country is split into regions. Even the government has several ways of looking at the country, including the Census Bureau, Federal Regions, Federal Reserve Banks, Time Zones, Courts of Appeals, etc, etc.
Climate ignores those borders. The Koppen-Geiger climate classification is used by National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration (NOAA). This is a “vegetation-based empirical climate classification system… based on the idea that climate is best defined by native vegetation.” A nice feature of this system is that it can be looked at as five large groups, but it also contains more specific subcategories:
- Mild Temperate
Alaska contains Polar zones resistant to termites. The other four zones have subcategories that create breeding grounds for several types of pests. The variety of climates have vastly different seasonal conditions.
Season Proofing Techniques
Due to the size of the US, two bordering oceans, and the non-contiguous states of Hawaii and Alaska, every subcategory of the Koppen-Geiger exists somewhere in the country. This makes describing seasons difficult – winter in a tropical climate is warmer than summer in a polar climate. To guide the topics below, the assumption of four distinct seasons is used, along with a description of each. That includes warm-to-hot, humid summers and cold winters. Precipitation happens throughout the year, with more inches of rain in the spring, summer, and fall than inches of snow in the winter. A good example of this is Warm-Summer Humid Continental (a subcategory of the Continetal zone). This climate exists in several states of the Northeast and the Midwest.
- Spring is swarming time. (Temperatures rising, averaging between 0 and 50 degrees F.)
Swarmers, the mating termites, will not be destroying houses, but they will be looking for the perfect location for a future nest to feed.
Be wary of dead wood around the property, especially any that is close to the house. This is prime territory for swarmers to target. Since temperatures have not hit the high of summer, moisture that seeps into any materials is less likely to evaporate.
There is not necessarily a best time of the year for tenting/fumigation, but spring time is a likely time that homeowners realize termites are waking up from winter sleep. Many families move during spring time as well; an empty house makes it easier to fumigate, whether selling or buying.
- Summer is work time. (Monthly average temperature above 50 degrees F.)
Warm and hot weather is prime time for termite activity as these cold-blooded insects speed up with higher temperatures. From spring to summer, termites will be building working tubes and exploratory tubes searching for entry points into homes.
- Fall is slow time. (Temperature declining, averaging between 0 and 50 degrees F.)
As temperatures drop, so will the activity of termites. That’s what makes Modesto and Turlock perfect breeding grounds for Termites with our warm climate. However, climate change and specific location means that some days of the Fall will have Summer-like weather conditions, possibly promoting an early release of a new batch of swarmers (we’ll talk about what those are in a minute).
Techniques for fall termite prevention are similar to spring. The addition of falling leaves and branches brings an added layer of moisture concern.
- Winter is rest time. (Monthly average temperature average below 0 degrees F.)
Dryer air and lower temperatures likely mean that termites are completely inactive during the winter. Unusually warm days can enact activity of worker termites, but in general, less destruction will be caused.
Winter presents another challenge: Fumigation requires serious prepping, and winter can be a difficult time to move belongings out of the house. Preparation includes removing fabrics, cookware and food. Flame sources like pilot lights must be turned off. Doors and windows will be open, and the extreme cold can freeze water in pipes in some areas.
Do Season and Climate Affect the Types or Numbers of Termites?
Here at Reliable Termite Solutions, we’ve seen just about every type of termite situation you can think of. When it comes to whether or not the season or climate affects specific types of termites, the short answer is no. Termites that have not made it into a home will slow down during winter, but an occupied house provides perfectly acceptable conditions for an indoor colony to thrive. There are three types of house-destroying termites to be aware of:
- Subterranean termites. As the name implies, these insects live underground and will go beneath the frost line to avoid freezing temperatures. They do not die off or hibernate, but won’t cause damage unless they’ve already made it to the house foundation or wood structure.
- Drywood termites. When not destroying houses, these insects live in trees, telephone poles, wooden fences, etc. above ground. These are more common in Dry/Arid climates since sources of outdoor drywood are limited in other climates. They can fly from an outdoor drywood condition to any opening in a home, shed their wings, and begin the infestation process.
- Dampwood termites. Like drywood termites, they live in trees, telephone poles, wooden fences, etc. except they look for damp wood. These termites are more common in climates other than Dry/Arid. While the wood structure of any home should be dry, many problems in an aging house can cause moisture infiltration. A roof with failing shingles or cracked paint can allow precipitation to leak into the plywood and rafters.
At Reliable Termite Solutions, we can provide you with a more thorough and detailed breakdown of these termites and the areas they are commonly found if you contact us.
When Prevention Fails
”Lucky” residents might find mud tubes before a wood infiltration. These visible pathways, found indoors and outdoors, are made from a combination of wood, clay, soil, termite saliva and feces. Working tubes (a type of mud tube) can be found along concrete foundations or brick chimneys as the termites search for wood. Exploratory tubes are disturbing freestanding structures that make their way up from soil through cracks in foundations. While the site of these structures might imply an infestation, it is not a certainty. A more worrisome mud tube is the drop tube. Termites that are already in wood structures start exploration downward looking to get back to soil.
Routine inspections by the owner should prevent any major damage to homes, but this is something that is admittedly forgotten or neglected. Sometimes an owner is not aware of a termite threat in the first place, or believes that inspection is a costly procedure that can only be performed by specialists.
In as little as three years, termites can make significant headway into a house. Signs of worrisome damage include sagging floors or ceilings, or vertical wood posts that appear to be crushing under the weight above. Wood that makes a hollow sound when knocked could be hollowed out by termites. Peeling or bubbling paint might mean that the moisture termites have created in wood studs has reached the adjacent wall surface. Frass (termite droppings that look like sawdust) found near interior wood is another sign that termites have made it indoors. If these symptoms are found, a DIY method of confirming termites is to use a knife or screwdriver to dig into the wood in question. Infested wood will be easy to penetrate, and termite tunnels should be visible.
Remove the Termites!
It’s possible for a small and localized infestation to be taken care of by the owner if found in time, but we definitely don’t recommend it. There’s far too many variables, and a home is worth far more than what you’ll saving chancing it yourself. That said, some things you can try in the meantime before you call a reliable termite professional would be:
- A simple method without pesticide application is a bait system. By placing these approximately 10 feet apart, 2 – 3 feet away from the foundation, an outdoor colony can be eradicated. Bait systems can have pop-up indicators that show when termites have consumed the bait. The termites will spread this bait to the rest of the colony, hopefully killing all the termites, the keyword here being hopefully. This is why hiring a trained Central Valley termite and pest control specialist is the best idea
- Foam chemical treatment. If termite tunnels are discovered indoors, an expanding foam treatment can be sprayed into small crevices or drilled holes along the tunnels. This kills termites, disrupts the tunnels, and kills the colony.
- Natural solutions. Boric acid is a powder that can be directly applied to suspected indoor or outdoor areas using a powder duster. This is less toxic than other chemical treatments.
Nematodes can be applied to exterior soil. These living creatures pose no risk to humans and work as a great preventative measure. Once termites ingest soil mixed with nematodes, the nematodes begin killing the termites and multiply in the surrounding area.
Diatomaceous earth can be applied using a powder duster on interior affected areas or exterior soil. The composition of this product cuts the exoskeletons of termites, effectively killing them over time. This is the most natural termite solution and is 100% non-toxic.
While these are all great ways to attempt to DIY, knowing where to put even these treatments and what to do with them can be the difference between success or failure, and they can only be used if caught extremely early on.
Larger infestations absolutely must be taken care of by a professional pest control expert:
- Termiticide barrier. A professional will apply a chemical deterrent. By digging a 6” x 6” trench around the foundation of the house, mixing the soil with termiticide, and refilling the trench, a solid barrier and termite poison is created against subterranean termites around the entire house.
- Tenting/Fumigation. A large scale infestation requires large scale remediation. A specialist team constructs a literal tent around the entire house and fills it with gas to kill pests. This process can last hours to days while the house is unoccupied.
Conclusion: Live in Alaska? Great news, you are safe! But equally good news for those of us here in the Modesto Turlock, Ceres, Merced and surrounding areas is that Reliable Termite Solutions’ prevention techniques can stop termites from ever getting into a house in the first place. And by routinely checking the interior and exterior of a house, infestations can be stopped in their tracks. If an infestation does occur, a pest control and termite extermination professional can eradicate small or even large colonies. After termites are removed, repairs can be made to damaged wood. Then, and only then, can you once again rest easy, knowing your home is safe from disaster.