Spring: the time of year that termites love best. That’s when these pale insects, measuring six to 12 millimeters in length, take wing in groups to found new colonies. While most of the tiny fliers become lunch for animals and birds, it takes just a single pair to launch a colony of millions. They nest near abundant sources of food and unfortunately, wooden structures like homes and outbuildings feature prominently on their menu. Once established, a termite queen has staying power, living for 15-25 years and producing an egg every 15 seconds.

Termites, which have straight antennae rather than crooked like ants do, cause more than C$6 billion a year in property damage and most of it isn’t covered by insurance. Fixing their handiwork provokes sticker shock: eradication and repair average between C$4,000 and C$11,500 per occurrence. Why so expensive? The destruction is silent, gradual and hidden behind walls and underground, usually remaining unnoticed until extensive damage has occurred.

Prevention is the best defence. Make property inhospitable to these destructive pests by:

  • Stacking firewood away from wooden structures.
  • Removing excess food sources from around structures, such as dead trees and landscaping lumber.
  • Minimizing wood-to-ground contact, such as siding near soil, or treating these areas with termiticide.
  • Sealing gaps around water and gas lines.
  • Resolving moisture problems near foundations.
  • Keeping mulch 15 centimeters away from foundations.
  • Retaining qualified companies to inspect annually for termites.

It’s important to catch new infestations quickly. Note these warning signs:

  • Mud tubes climbing building foundations, which protect soft termite bodies from drying out as they travel from ground nests.
  • Wood that seems soft, sounds hollow, darkens or blisters.
  • Discarded wings near windowsills or foundations during the February through June swarming season.
  • Mounds of termite pellets resembling small piles of salt and pepper.

Confronting an infestation despite your best efforts? Treating it is not a do-it-yourself project so be sure to hire a reputable pest control company. Repairing the damage is another task better left to professionals. Paul Davis brings extensive experience and technology to restoring structures and resolving issues like moisture that encourage insect damage.