Termite Infestations Modesto CA
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by PJ Wade
The sad truth is that your home might be infested with termites and it may be years before visible signs of damage alert you.
Since these wood-eating social insects look like "white ants" to the untrained eye, termites have been confused with ants by those who do not understand the biology. Different species of termites have different habits, but they all relentlessly ingest more than their weight in wood—your wood—without leaving easily-detectable damage. (Here's a start on the biology: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Termites)
Termites can cause significant structural damage to a property. Since Canadian homes are commonly wood-frame structures with brick or siding veneer, few properties are completely immune. Termites infestations are expensive:
- The cost of repairing structural damage caused by wood-devouring termites, coupled with the cost of "termite-proofing" the property by removing all wood-soil interfaces, wood piles and some types of landscaping, make termite attacks expensive, but the cost does not stop there.
- Current treatment for infestation requires chemical poisoning of the soil to dissuade termites from entering the home. This interior and exterior treatment of the soil under the house can involve thousands of dollars for the initial soil poisoning and may require follow-up treatments if spot attacks occur in the future.
- Property value may also be affected if proof of eradication and prevention are not provided to prospective buyers. In some cases, a stigma may remain.
The Location Factor The real estate value mantra of "location, location, location" also applies to termite invasions. The location of a property relative to its distance from existing infestations may be considered a value factor, particularly if the municipality involved does little or nothing to stop or at least slow the spread of these relentless wood-eating insects.
In a recent email, Dr. Timothy Myles, Canada's leading termite control research scientist and, currently, Termite Control Officer for the City of Guelph , Ontario, shared observations of termite management problems across the country, including:
- In Alberta, localized infestations were reported in Medicine Hat and as far north as Edmonton, but the details and status of spreading are unknown.
- In southern British Columbia, a native species is infesting Vancouver Island, the lower mainland and inland river valleys, including the Okanagan River basin. Improved control methods will help, but the existence of native populations place eradication out of reach.
- No conclusive reports from Manitoba, but a Winnipeg infestation detected in cursory sampling in 1991 has probably spread.
- In Ontario, the non-native subterranean species, which was first sighted 70 years ago on Point Pelee and in the City of Toronto, has "spread from these points of entry and continue to spread at an accelerated pace, now threatening almost all urban areas of southern Ontario."
With no natural predators and little or no municipal termite control activity, there is nothing to halt or slow the steady migration of subterranean termites. Although this species does not seem to create new colonies through a flying stage, termite migration is dramatically escalated by human intervention. What wood have you moved lately?
Decades ago, a wide-scale Ontario initiative launched by Toronto and involving many other cities and the provincial funding established termite control bylaws to slow the spread and to offer financial relief for affected property owners. This program ran for 20 years, until it fell victim to funding cuts a few years ago, leaving property owners to fend for themselves.
"We should go back in time to the point where [governments] realized that this is a huge problem—that this is probably equivalent to all the fire damage in all the municipalities across the province and it is just getting worse," said Myles, who is internationally recognized as a leading researcher on termite control and management. "It is preposterous that the government—both municipalities and the province, the [Ontario Ministry of the Environment]—got out of it. A lot more could be done for homeowners because, when they get [termites], they say, 'What do I do and what help is there?' The answer is, 'There is no help. Look in the phone book under exterminator.' That's it. There is absolutely nothing by the federal government, the province or cities any more."
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