Avoid Wintertime Subterranean Termites

When temperatures drop, most insects power down for the season. Boxelder bugs retreat to snug crevices, honeybees huddle and some populations, like Monarch butterflies, migrate to warmer climes. Hardy termites, however, shrug off the cold, remaining active year-round and enjoying their cellulose diet with gusto. These soft-bodied agents of destruction cause widespread structural damage in southern and coastal parts of Canada, much of it not covered by home insurance. The key to repelling termite invasion during winter? Knowing their cold weather habits, watching for signs that a colony has called your home its own and taking steps year-round to prevent infestation.


In northern climates, termites move deeper into the ground during the cold season to stay warm. Food sources that are exposed to cold temperatures are often abandoned. In temperate regions, egg production often ceases during the cold months and structural damage slows. Termite activity in heated buildings – and in soil near heated structures – may not change much from summertime levels as thermometers plummet.


The takeaway message for all homeowners to remember: termite vigilance is a year-round necessity. Cold temperatures won’t kill them or drive them away. Here’s what to look for in and around the house and outbuildings (though you may see nothing at all because these secretive insects can be hard to find and silent as they destroy wood):


  • Mud tubes climbing building foundations. The tubes protect soft termite bodies from drying out as they travel from ground nests.
  • Wood that seems soft, sounds hollow, darkens or blisters.
  • Mounds of termite pellets – resembling small piles of salt and pepper.


Help prevent infestation by:


  • Stacking wood away from the house
  • Maintaining good drainage from and around wooden structures
  • Mulching at least 40 centimetres away from foundations
  • Trimming trees that contact roofs or home exteriors.


Smart homeowners have professional termite inspections at least annually, because early identification and prompt treatment is their best defence. Treating an infestation is not a DIY project, so be sure to hire a reputable pest control company. Grappling with termite damage after an infestation? Take care to retain a highly qualified, reputable restoration company like Paul Davis.


Did You Know? Many people confuse termites for ants, but it’s easy to tell them apart: ants have bent antennae and termites have straight antennae.