Hugh Cairns: Termite time


Several common construction practices contribute to subterranean termite infestation either by providing the termites with access into the structure or by creating moisture conditions ideal for termite colonization. Here, form boards have been left behind from new construction proving termites with a direct highway from the colony in the soil to the structural wood. Photo: Contributed – (Photo: Hugh Cairns)

Hugh Cairns: Termite time

When on the job, your home inspector focuses on the construction of a home and the permanently installed components. We don’t inspect specifically inspect for Wood Destroying Organisms (WDO) because it’s a field that requires a trained specialist. WDO’s are a nasty bunch. Termites and carpenter ants are well respected for their reputation. They eat wood. In most homes the exterior wood framing components makes up about 27% of the exterior surface area. Add your interior framing and there is a lot to eat.

Carpenter ants and termites go to work behind the scenes so most of their activity is subterranean. Once they hit your inedible concrete foundation they look for wood. They don’t like being seen and like to keep their activity private. You may be watching TV, having a nap or cooking your favorite meal, but behind the finished walls in your home, and in areas hidden by furniture and possessions there is a chance they could be at work especially if you live in a termite zone.

Now, it may be a surprise to you that Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley is a termite zone, but not to the Pro’s working in the pest control industry. If by chance I see WDO activity on the job, it’s time to get on the horn and call in a Steve Ball Sr. at BugMaster. Steve has taken me under his wing (pun intended) and I have greatly appreciated his informal training.

If you’ve ever owned a home that has had WDO activity, it’s unnerving because without professional help, you can’t stop them. Next, you’ll have to deal with the stigma of owning a home with a history of WDO activity. Always have a pest control expert inspect a home that you are looking at buying – end of story.

“The subterranean termites are active in the valley. Each spring the activity increases and some homeowners find themselves with a nasty infestation of little white and brown bugs that appear to look a lot like ants.  These insects can and will do tremendous damage to the structure of a building – they just need enough time and favorable conditions. They are at work 24/7 turning wood products in cellulose, that they use to control their environment.  The cellulose appears as “mud” or “shelter” tubes that may be found, most commonly, along baseboards, in furnace rooms, between door jams or any area where a crack in the foundation or slab intersects with wood”, advises Steve Ball Sr. In many cases they can go unnoticed for months or even years as most people are unaware of tell-tale signs.

Soon we will have the emergence of the “alates”. These are the winged sect of the termite colony that appear by the 100’s this time of year. Usually they are found in a basement near the furnace, or clustered by a downstairs window. They differ from regular ants, in that have a 2 part body and straight antennae. The wings of these breeders are about twice as long as the body. “There are some safe guards home owners may employ for early detection and removal” advises Steve. From my end, that means the involvement of a trained licensed professional, with highly specialized equipment and materials.

If you’re sensing that WDO’s are a tad complicated, you’re right.  If you suspect you may have uninvited guest about the house, have a pest inspection. I know from experience that WDO companies inspect at very reasonable rates.

The Pro’s can identify the presence of WDO’s, give advice on remediation, and proceed to make plans to eliminate them from your home.

Think you may have termites or other pest activity? Contact BugMaster.