These ravenous, subterranean critters can’t wait to gobble down your beautiful wood fence. Heck, tree stumps, old boards, new fence, it’s all the same to them: delicious, life-sustaining wood. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t notice these little buggers until it’s too late and massive damage is done.
January is the perfect time to resolve this and stop termites while you still have a recognizable fence. Here are some tips for catching these hungry fence-eaters in the act.
Understanding the termite
Subterranean termites are the most common type of termite in Texas. They come in two main types: workers and swarmers. The cream-colored workers are about 3 or 4 millimeters long. You don’t usually see them unless infested wood or a mud foraging tube is broken open. That’s because workers are too busy, well, working – i.e., eating your valuable fence – to hang out where you can see them. Swarmers, on the other hand, are the breeders of the colony. They grow a little longer than workers, are dark, and have wings until shortly after they emerge.
In Texas, you might encounter worker termites year-round. Swarmers are most visible in March and April, especially the eastern subterranean termite, which are often out during daylight.
Signs of termites
Okay, so if they’re busy working underground all the time, how do you know they’re there? It’s time to play termite detective. Your objective? Find the mud tubes where they carry out their heinous deeds. Focus on places where two surfaces meet, such as wood to the ground, where a wooden planter touches your fence or a porch meets the foundation wall.
When inspecting your fence for termites, here’s what you’re looking for:
- Little flying insects shedding their wings
- Fecal pellets
- Mysterious cracks and tiny holes
- A honeycomb pattern along the grain in softwood (subterranean termites)
- Tunnels in your wood (drywood termites)
Termites are a destructive and expensive problem to face. So let’s spend a moment on how to keep your yard termite-free. Here are a few things you can do to prevent termites around your fence and the rest of your yard:
- Wood-to-ground contact is asking for trouble. Adding a concrete footing around wood steps that touch the ground can help protect your home.
- To termites, wood mulch is tasty stuff. If you mulch a flower bed right next to your foundation wall, termites will start the party with the wood mulch, then keep on partying right into your foundation. Instead, how about using rocks or pine straw instead of wood mulch?
- Sure, it’s a pain to have to venture far into your yard on a cold night to lug some firewood inside. But stack that wood at least a few feet away from your house.
Termites got you down?
Need more advice about keeping your fence safe from termites? Or maybe you a new fence, if those hungry winged varmints are performing a victory dance on the ruins of your old fence? We’re here to help. Give us a call today.