Termites in Winter: Don’t Let Your Guard Down

If you think termites take a break during winter, you got it wrong. These stealthy pests dig deep under the ground to survive the freezing temperatures. Some would stay cozy inside your well-heated home. Termites in winter should be your concern since the pests can produce the same damage regardless of the season.

Where do termites go during winter?

As tiny insects with sensitive bodies, termites can’t survive in the cold. Also, termites are cold-blooded organisms and they need the environment to provide the heat that they need.

Just like anyone else, termites will look for cover when the snow arrives. Subterranean termites will simply burrow deeper to the ground to survive the cold temperatures. 

The burrowing process allows the Subterranean termites to achieve the proper moisture level that suits their bodies. This makes homeowners think that the mites have hibernated. Although the burrowing may slow them down, these mites continue to forage on your yard and home.

Not convinced? Columbia Pest Control explains to us how termites behave during the cold season:

As for Drywood and Dampwood termites, they usually stay close to their nests during winter. This keeps the damages concentrated at a specific area during wintertime.

Since they typically invade higher portions of a house, they are safe from the threats of snow. Also, since most homes are heated during winter, Drywood termites will continue to forage as usual.

Take note that no matter what the season is, termites will eat the same amount of wood.

Outdoor termite activity

When the outdoor temperature drops, the mites will return to their nests and burrow deeper to the ground. If it’s just mild winter snow, both the Subterranean and Formosan types can stay close to the surface and pass through the mud tubes they built through your home.

Also, the burrowing tendencies of termites allow them to access your home’s foundation. As the foraging continues, more damage occurs to your home. Underground, these termites are as destructive as they are during summer months.

During winter, you may or may not see swarming termites, discarded wings, or frass in the open. Still, it doesn’t mean that their eating habits are taking a break.

Indoor termite activity

A research from the University of California, Berkeley discovered that Western Drywood termites remain active during the winter months. Also, their foraging level peaks in the afternoon. If you suspect that an indoor part of your home is infested with mites, you can heat this part and the mites will reveal its presence.

If the termites invaded your home before the winter season, the pest will do their business as usual. In fact, your home becomes an ideal place for termites during the winter season. Most homes will have three Ws of infestation: water, warmth, and wood.

At some point, you may notice winged termites on sources of light like your window and light bulbs. This means that the swarming is isolated inside your home.

While you sip your hot coffee and get cozy during winter, the termites are continuously damaging your property.

Do termites hibernate?

Some bugs and other insects hibernate during winter, but not the termites. Since they can nest up to 50 feet deep on the ground, they can easily evade the freezing temperatures while establishing a path to the nearest food source.

Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not present. A termite inspection is the best move to diagnose a possible termite infestation during winter.

Signs of termites during winter

During winter, it’s possible that you won’t see discarded wings since the swarming season isn’t due until late winter. Still, you should watch out for frass and the ticking sound of foraging termites. Indoors, you can look or mud tubes that connect your home to the outdoor soil. Knocking on wooden beams and hearing a hollow sound is another sign of termite presence in your home.

Outdoors, it could be challenging to check the soil, especially if the snow has gone thick. Most likely, you’ll never see any insects foraging in the open.

The following are the common signs of termites:

  • Discarded wings
  • Frass (pellet-like wood droppings)
  • Papery wood damage
  • Mud tubes

If you suspect that your property is invaded with this insect, you should call a professional exterminator. They can conduct inspections and the necessary treatment afterward.

Termite inspection during winter

termites in winter

Termite inspection during winter sounds like an inconvenient idea. Still, it’s a good time to diagnose an infestation and plan out the extermination.

Like what I mentioned earlier, termites in winter forage close to their nests. This means that the damages can be isolated to certain spots alone. Aside from that, it’s difficult to spot termites during winter unless you use special detection tools.

In fact, exterminators find the fall and winter seasons as the best periods for a termite inspection. Why? Because during these seasons, termite behavior is the most predictable. Many pest control companies provide winter inspections too.

Winter termite solutions

During winter, termite bait systems are very effective if placed close to the nest. Termites are more likely to choose the poisoned bait than to hunt for food farther from its nest.

During the inspection, the exterminators will look around your property. Depending on how bad the weather is, the cost of the inspection could be much higher than how it is during summer and spring.

Indoors, the inspection will be standard. The exterminator will check your basement, crawlspaces, attic, and other areas where termites could be hiding.

After that, the inspector will issue a termite inspection report containing their findings. If termites are present in your property, you can proceed with the treatment.

Will termites die in the cold?

In the open, yes, termites can die in the freezing cold. However, these pests have a hard-wired nature to seek an optimal harborage so they won’t die during winter. If termites die during winter, it would have long been eradicated, right?

Aside from surviving the very low temperatures, termites will continue to look for food sources.

Areas with warm winters

Areas with warm winter experience mild temperature drops. Some of these states include Alabama, Florida, Delaware, South Carolina, and more areas in the south.

Only a thin layer of snow falls in these areas – sometimes none at all. This will thaw and become a source of moisture for termites, especially the Subterranean species. If you stack firewood outdoors under these conditions, you’re sustaining the reproduction of the termite colony.

Take note that places with warm winter experiences active termite infestation all year round. It’s best to conduct regular termite inspections to detect an infestation right away.

In this video, Rashi Vats interviews termite experts on how to prevent termites in areas with warm winter:

How to stop winter termites

Treating termites during winter can be challenging due to the temperature and consistency of the soil. During this season, you have two options in killing the pest: using liquid termiticides or setting up bait stations.

➡️ Outdoor treatment

Liquid termiticides will be administered on trenches around your home. If it’s snowing heavily, the exterminator will wait until the weather brightens up before conducting the pest control. This will ensure that the termiticides are absorbed into the soil optimally.

The layers of soil on the ground may hinder or water down the effect of the termiticide. In this case, baiting is the next best option for termites in winter.

The exterminators will set up bait stations around your yard after tracking the potential pathway of the termites. These baits will have varying hit rates, with some as fast as 25 days. Monitoring is crucial here to ensure that the bait won’t lead to avoidance of the colony.

➡️ Indoor treatment

Indoors, nematode deployment can be used as long as the roundworms can survive the environment’s temperature. Since termite colonies tend to cling close to their nest, this is the best time to inject liquid nitrogen to the affected wood. The exterminator will drill holes to the wood and inject the liquid nitrogen to kill the termites.

Other options include the application of botanical pesticides like Orange oil termite treatment and Neem oil. Although Diatomaceous Earth is effective in killing termites, it could be less effective during winter when the termites don’t go far from their nest.

How to termite-proof your home before winter

If you’re worried about termites damaging your home during winter, you can take proactive steps even before the snow arrives. Here are some of the steps you can take to shield your home from the destructive pest:

➡️ Seal cracks and holes

You should seal any possible pathways of termites including electrical conduits, plumbing inlets, and more. Caulk any opening to make sure that the mites can’t take cover on your home once the temperatures drop.

➡️ Check your pipes

Aside from the possibility of bursting during winter, it’s best to close outdoor water lines to prevent any unnecessary source of moisture. Also, make sure that no pipe inside your home has leaks where the pest can get its sustenance.

➡️ Store your firewood

Winter is the season when homeowners store firewood indoors to fire up their furnace. The process of bringing in outdoor wood inside your house could be a vehicle for an infestation. Termites foraging on the firewood will gain easy access to your home.

With this, make sure that there are no termites in the wood. Also, store it at least five inches from the ground and away from walls and wooden foundations. 

➡️ Get your house inspected

Don’t wait for the winter season to come before calling a termite inspector. It’s best to get your home inspected weeks before the start of the winter season. This way, treatment can be done correctly and efficiently.

Aside from that, termiticides bond better with the soil during non-winter months when it’s not too dry and not too wet.

➡️ Trim your bushes and trees

As part of your winter preparation, make sure that you trim unkempt bushes and branches on your yard. Aside from keeping the termites away, it will also prevent any collapse on your home.

➡️ Check your roof

Many homeowners overlook their roofs before the winter season. As the temperature drops, termites could use roof holes to get into your house. Aside from that, you should reinforce your roof to prepare for the heavy bouts of snow.

➡️ Maintain good drainage

Make sure that water won’t slope into your home once the ice starts to thaw. Make sure, too, that all your drainage pipes are in good condition.

It will also help to check your basement and treat it with natural termiticides. You can ask professional exterminators to apply anti-termite treatments to your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What temperature do termites die

A: Termites thrive on temperatures around 75F to 95F. With this, termites will die if they get exposed to temperatures below 25F or above 100F for a few minutes.

Q2: Do termites die off in the winter?

A: Some members of the colony may die during winter, but termites continue to forage all year round. Subterranean mites will dig deeper into the soil, making their home invasion slower than how it is during non-winter months.

Q3: Are termites active in winter?

A: Yes, because termites are active all year round. However, some homeowners tend to believe that the pest hibernates during winter. The truth is that some species will move deeper to the ground, but their wood-eating business continues.

Q4: Do termites swarm during winter?

A: Termite swarming can happen all year. However, due to the cold temperature in the open, it’s rare for mites to swarm during winter months. Still, some species can expand their colonies even without swarming.

Q5: What season do termites come out?

A: Termites don’t have a “season”. Still, they are more prevalent during the non-winter months, where the temperature is optimal for their bodies. Each termite species have different foraging behaviors which go beyond seasons.

Final words

Termites in winter are as damaging as they used to be on other seasons. The key here is to act before the season changes. Proper inspection and treatment will protect your home from destructive insects. With this, you can go through winter with peace of mind.

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