During the winter, homeowners feel like they can relax a little and not worry so much about a destructive termite infestation, even in the buggy southeastern states. But is it a false sense of security? Can termites still invade your home in the dead of the winter?
Not all insects die off or go into hibernation during the winter months. They have all sorts of survival strategies to make it through the cold. Today we’re exploring where termites go during winter and what they do to cope with the frigid weather.
Outdoor Activity of Termites in the Winter
When the temperature drops outside termites aren’t as active as they were during the rest of the year, but they aren’t dormant. Unlike other types of bugs, termites don’t hibernate for the winter. Instead, they retreat to their nests to ride out the freezing temperatures.
For subterranean and Formosan termites, this means going underground below the freeze line. However, if it’s a mild winter with very little freezing, termites will stay closer to the surface. This is certainly the case if termites find their way under your foundation. In these spots, underground termites can be just as active as the summer months. Subterranean termites have even been known to start swarming in the late winter, particularly on warm days after it rains.
Drywood termites and dampwood termites will nest in wood areas such as stumps or trees for the winter. That’s why it’s best to remove stumps and dead trees no matter what time of year it is. In 2011 the University of California, Berkeley did a study of western drywood termites to gauge their activities in logs during all four seasons.
They noted that drywood termites remained active at all times, but that reduced activity was associated with colder temperatures. Even then activity peaked in the late afternoon. Another notable finding was that very warm winter days was one of the peak periods for feeding.
The study was done to provide more information for identifying termites and treating infestations. It concluded that if you believe there may be termites present during the winter, heating the suspicious location could reveal the presence of termites.
Indoor Activity of Termites in the Winter
Outdoors termites aren’t as active, but indoors is another story. If termites moved into a home before the cold set in outside, they can remain very active throughout the winter months. Homes make the perfect winter getaway for termites because they provide the three Ws – wood, water and warmth. Those three things help termites thrive through any season.
Once indoors, termites will continue to feed on the cellulose of wood structures, doing damage while you sit in your warm home thinking termites aren’t a problem until the spring swarming season. That is, unless you see a swarm inside. If there’s an infestation it’s possible for swarming to start indoors during the winter. You may also notice winged adults near the windows since they are attracted to light.
Areas With Warm Winters Are at Risk for Year-Round Termites
You may have already gathered from the information above that living in an area where the winters are more mild increases the risk of winter termite infestations. In other words, places like Alabama where it rarely freezes are most at risk both outdoors and indoors. In these areas homeowners have to take preventative measures year-round.
And there’s another issue that can make termites worse in the winter. As the experts at Mississippi State University note, firewood piles can be particularly problematic. If a homeowner doesn’t use proper firewood precautions, such as keeping piles away from the exterior of the home, it could increase the likelihood of finding termites.
Firewood should also be stored up off the ground or it could attract ants and other insects along with termites. Leaving firewood on the ground gives insects easy access and moisture could quickly rot the wood making it that much more appealing to termites. When you bring firewood inside it should be burned immediately or you risk letting termites indoors where they can infest the home.
Being diligent about termite prevention is a year-round necessity in Alabama. These bugs don’t care what time of year it is when it comes to feeding on wood structures. Due to their winter survival methods, termites are actually more prone to move indoors than other types of insects.
If given the chance, termites that are outdoors will find their way into a house or tunnel beneath it so the entire colony can survive the winter in comfort. It’s important for Alabama homeowners and business owners to keep up with regular pest control treatments and not to ignore the warning signs of an infestation. Always be on the lookout for mud tubes, wings shed by the termites and wood damage. If any of those signs are present during the winter don’t hesitate to call our experienced technicians.