The other day I noticed what looked like little piles of sand on the windowsill above my bathtub. I cleaned them up, but the next day they were back, along with some little worker bugs moving around them. I knew in an instant I had termites. I wasn’t pleased, but I wasn’t apoplectic either.
I come across termites every now and then in my work, as most people have a termite inspection as part of the regular home inspection process of a sale. They SOUND a lot scarier than they usually are. Thanks to old cartoons, many of us imagine the little buggers taking down a house in a matter of minutes with quick and relative ease. Fortunately, most of the time they are caught in time and can be treated. Sometimes homeowners have to replace a few boards in the crawlspace or move the mulch away from the house. They then have the property treated, and get on a good preventative plan.
After my dramatic declaration, my husband called the bug guy. Ashley Emerick with Viper Pest Solutions came over. Now, this guy knows his bugs; he’s like the “bug whisperer” and I got quite the education.
I took him to the suspect area and he dug a little more sand out of the hole where they were coming in and announced that I didn’t actually have termites: I have “acrobat ants.”
Well, I was relieved and sort of excited to have these special, graceful ants that Ashley says crawl along the ceiling upside down to get where they are going.
Turns out, in our area we have what is known as “subterranean” termites that wouldn’t likely leave piles of sawdust or sand as they often do in warmer states. Ashley says there are 3 good ways to know if you have termites here:
–If you have “fliers” with wings. These will die within 24 hours but do indicate a termite colony is nearby.
–If you have “mud tubes.”
–If you have actual damage
The above represent the actual concern: termite larva and workers. Ashley said that termites like moisture and will eat anything made of “cellulose material,” such as wood, Sheetrock, newspapers, and books. He said never let wood touch soil, make sure your firewood is stacked on a rack, not the ground, and not touching the structure. He said he was recently in a crawlspace under an older house that looked like everyone who had ever done a repair down there had left scraps of wood. They had termites.
Ashley left me with this sage piece of pest control wisdom: “There are three types of houses, those that have termites, those that are going to have termites, and those that have been treated.”
I’m happy with my fancy ants.