As Swarm Season Intensifies, New Terminix Research Highlights Misconceptions about Termites and Damage They Can Cause
April 8, 2014 Memphis, TN
One in 20 U.S. Homes Are Infested Every Year*; Damage Rarely Covered by Homeowners Insurance
(TERMINIX) – Terminix®, the world’s largest pest control provider, recently collaborated with Harris Interactive® to gauge U.S. homeowners’ sentiment around common pests, including termites. While many respondents had a basic understanding of the damage termites can cause, several startling misconceptions also emerged.
Of the more than 2,000 respondents, 94% believe termites can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage, yet only 26% had ever had their home inspected for termites and only 16% reported having a current termite contract. Additionally, 43% believe termites can be controlled using standard, at-home, DIY treatments, while another 30% believe damage caused by termites would be covered by their homeowner’s insurance policy – both of which are incorrect.
“While our branches treat year-round for termites, the calls really start picking up in the spring when swarms blanket cities across the country,” said Stoy Hedges, a Terminix entomologist. “Once a home is infested, the average cost for termite treatment and damage repair can exceed $8,000, so having an annual termite contract is the best protection against these damaging and costly pests.”
Termite swarms are weather-driven events that typically occur on sunny, warm, calm days following a spring rain. During a swarm, winged termites leave their existing colony to find a mate and establish new colonies. While termite swarming can occur as early as February, due to unseasonably cool and wet weather this winter, activity has been delayed throughout much of the country.
In addition to the Harris Interactive research, Terminix has also identified the U.S. metro areas with the highest number of inbound calls regarding termite activity. Based on Terminix call volume, the most termite-afflicted cities include:
- San Diego, Calif.
- Los Angeles, Calif.
- Miami, Fla.
- Atlanta, Ga.
- Dallas, Texas
- New York City, NY
- Phoenix, Ariz.
- San Francisco, Calif.
- Houston, Texas
- Baltimore, Md.
Terminix created the list by compiling and analyzing termite-specific call volume to its more than 300 branches throughout the country. The rankings represent cities with the greatest call volume for the period of March 1, 2013 through February 28, 2014.
Termites are found in every state except Alaska and cause more than $5 billion in damage annually. Because termites generally eat homes from the inside out, they often go unnoticed by unsuspecting homeowners. Termites eat anything containing cellulose, including wood, paper, cardboard, wallpaper, drywall and even furniture. Colonies can remain hidden behind walls and other structural elements for years before their presence is detected and the extent of the damage becomes evident. Even more disturbing is that termite destruction is rarely covered by homeowners insurance, leaving the owners responsible for repairs.
Controlling termites requires the help of a trained professional, but homeowners can take the following simple steps to help make their home less inviting to these wood-destroying pests:
- Fix roof and plumbing leaks. The moisture from these allows termites to survive above ground.
- Clean and repair gutters. Gutters that do not drain properly can allow water to accumulate near the foundation.
- Eliminate wood-to-soil contact. Any wood that simultaneously touches the soil and the home can provide termites with direct access to the structure. This includes keeping firewood or other wood debris from being stacked against the side of the home.
- Keep mulch or soil from piling up directly against the home. Soil or mulch can hide termite activity and allow for easy access into the home.
- Schedule an annual inspection with a trained professional. Prompt treatment and regular inspections can save thousands of dollars in damage repair.
For more information on this year’s termite swarm season or to schedule a home inspection, visit www.terminix.com.
The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive from February 28 – March 4, 2014 among 2,040 adults ages 18 and older. For more detailed information on the survey methodology, including weighting variables, please click here. *One in 20 claim is based on actual inspections performed by Terminix.
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Resolve for a Pest Free 2012
Jan. 11, 2012 Memphis, TN
Memphis, Tenn. (Jan. 11, 2012) – A new year brings thoughts of change and resolution for the upcoming year. Why not resolve to protect your home by incorporating regular pest control check-ups for termites, ants or bedbugs?
Terminix, the nation’s largest pest control company, offers free, no-obligation home inspections. The company provided the following tips to help keep pests away all year long.
Rodents and Winter Home Care
As the year begins, temperatures fall. It is at this time that winter home care is crucial. Insulation is key, not only to keep heating costs low, but to also keep pests out.
- Place weather stripping on the bottom of all exterior doors to ensure they seal tightly. Doors that do not have a tight seal can allow a variety of pests to enter the home and can allow warm air to escape.
- Ensure attic and foundation vents are equipped with tight-fitting, one-fourth inch hardware cloth. This will help keep rodents at bay. Install insect screening over windows, utility vents and other areas where small pests may slip through.
February is the time to prepare your home and prevent the infestation of termites. As swarm season approaches in the early spring, knowing ways to prevent termites entering your home now can save substantial amounts of money after they’ve entered.
- Eliminate all wood-to-soil contact around your foundation, keeping firewood and other wood debris from being stacked against the side of your home.
- Repair roof or plumbing leaks. The moisture from leaks can allow termites to survive above ground.
The month of March is traditionally the peak of termite season. At this point in the year, homeowners should watch for signs of termites to prevent an infestation from growing.
- Discarded termite wings found near doors, window sills or wood that sounds hollow when thumped are positive signs of an infestation.
- Terminix recommends having a trained professional check your home once a year for prevention and to check for infestation.
Spring weather insects
As April showers drench your lawn and home, the rain flushes insects out of the ground and potentially into your home. Many summertime insects can begin swarming early due to heavy rain.
- Repair leaks under kitchen and bathroom sinks. Pests such as roaches thrive in warm, moist areas, making these spots a perfect hideaway for the disease carrying pest.
- After meals, clear countertops and sinks of food and dishes. Cleaning up crumbs and putting food away will help limit food sources for ants and roaches.
Bedbugs have become a growing issue across the United States. Although they are known to bite their hosts year round, the summer amplifies their spreading due to increased amount of travel. Bedbugs are not a sign of unsanitary conditions. They do require professional attention to eradicate the problem. Do-it-yourself techniques have been proven to cause more harm than good.
- When travelling, check behind headboards, mattresses and box springs for bedbugs and dark blood spots. Ask for a room change if bedbugs are suspected.
- If you suspect you have bedbugs in your home, quarantine infested items and have your home inspected by a trained professional. Bedbugs cannot be controlled by over-the-counter treatments and will require the assistance of a pest control technician.
As summer officially begins, nuisance pests begin to swarm yards and parks. Mosquitoes reproduce and remain around sources of water.
- Empty birdbaths when not in use to prevent mosquito populations.
- Check for spots where water pools after rain in your yard and remedy them.
Don’t let ants bother your Fourth of July picnic. Mid-summer is a common time to see the pests travelling from their homes to yours. Ants will migrate from one location to another if food is left outside or if there is a dripping hose where they can find water. If ants are present, one must thoroughly clean where they have travelled with soap and water, because they leave pheromones for other ants to follow.
- Clean floors and countertops regularly. Wiping down these areas will help eliminate residue and crumbs left behind from drink spills and dropped food.
- Discard trash regularly, ensuring it is thrown away in a lid-sealed receptacle.
Stinging and biting pests
Stinging and biting pests are common later in the summer. This is a time to ensure you, your home and your pets have been protected from fleas and ticks. Additionally, your yard is susceptible to hornets, wasps and bees.
- Regularly wash pet bedding and vacuum carpets, rugs and indoor areas where pets regularly rest or sleep.
- Keep flower beds pruned and awnings clean during the summer to prevent stinging pest nests.
In September, temperatures start to cool and pests begin to look for a warm winter home. Overwintering pests, which include stinkbugs, box elders and ladybugs, enter homes from the south and west sides, the areas that receive the most sun exposure.
- Ensure any cracks in windows or housing foundations are sealed, particularly on the south and west facing sides.
- Seeing one overwintering pest usually means more are hidden in walls or the basement. Carefully remove with a vacuum and call a pest control technician.
Spiders are year-round opportunistic pests, but as the temperature changes in October, these cold-blooded critters seek the warmth of your home for survival.
- Use caulk to seal any holes or cracks in your home’s exterior. Large holes should be stuffed with steel wool or wire before sealing with caulk or other materials.
- Eliminate heavy vegetation and piles of debris (such as leaf piles) near the home. These provide an ideal habitat for spiders and can attract them closer to the structure.
Fall and holiday home prep
With the holidays approaching, don’t let your guard down for pests.
- Clean all decorations before hanging them as they have had all year to gather insects from the attic or basement.
- Hang all guests’ coats when they visit. A coat pile has the potential to spread pests, like bedbugs, and cold germs.
Winter travel tips
Holiday travels can bring unwanted visitors – protect yourself and your home from bedbugs.
- Vacuum suitcases when returning home and immediately wash clothing in hot water.
- Hang all clothing. Leave nothing lying on the bed or furniture. Avoid unpacking clothing and storing your clothing in the hotel’s furniture drawers.
For more information or if you have a possible infestation, visit www.terminix.com or call 1-800-Terminix to schedule aninspection.
Terminix, a division of the ServiceMaster Company, is the nation’s largest pest control provider. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., Terminix services more than 3 million customers in 46 states and 14 countries. Terminix provides pest control services and protection against termites, rodents and other pests threatening human health and/or safety. To learn more about Terminix, visit their Web site at www.Terminix.com
With a global network of more than 6,900 company-owned, franchise and licensed locations, Memphis-based ServiceMaster is one of the world’s largest residential and commercial service networks. The company’s high profile brands are TruGreen, Terminix, American Home Shield, ServiceMaster Clean, Merry Maids, Furniture Medic and AmeriSpec. Through approximately 24,000 corporate associates and a franchise network that independently employs over 31,000 additional people, the ServiceMaster family of brands serves more than 8.2 million customers every year. Our brands hold market-leading positions in residential and commercial lawn, tree and shrub care, termite and pest control, home warranties, furniture repair, home inspections, residential and commercial cleaning and disaster restoration. Go to www.servicemaster.com for more information about ServiceMaster or follow us at twitter.com/ServiceMaster or facebook.com/TheServiceMasterCo.