Spring brings swarmers of this insect. How to prevent costly damage to your Kansas home

As you’re making your plan for keeping critters out of your home this spring and summer, there’s one pest that could cause significant damage if undetected.

Termites are known to feed on wood, which can lead to serious damage to someone’s property and home.

“The swarmers will come out in the spring, maybe later on in the fall,” Raymond Cloyd, entomology professor with Kansas State University, said. “[When] you get about 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s when they’re going to be active throughout the year.”

There are two different kinds of termites found in Kansas: drywood termites and subterranean termites.

Comparing the two, subterranean termites can be found nesting in the ground, whereas drywood termites nest inside wood, according to pest control company Terminix.

If you’re not sure what kind of termites are infesting your home, there is an easy way to tell the difference. Subterranean termites leave a usually neat and lined pattern when feeding on wood, whereas drywood termites usually leave more erratic patterns behind.

Cloyd said termites feed more on moist wood.

“Moist conditions are going to be really favorable for them because they could chew on the wood,” Cloyd said.

Termites look similar to ants, but there are very noticeable differences.

“[Termites are] white, cream colored. Their antennas are straight unlike ants which are bent,” Cloyd said. “Their body is broad from the head to the end of the abdomen, whereas ants have a narrow waist between the thorax.”

Additionally, termites’ wings are all the same size unlike ants, whose front and back wings are different.

How can I tell if I have a termite infestation in my home?

Here are some signs you could have a infestation in your home, from Terminix:

  • Buckling or blistering of wood

  • Damaged wood

  • Difficulty opening doors

  • Mud tubes

  • Drywall damage

  • Bubbling under paint or wallpaper

  • A mold smell

If you have signs of an infestation in your home, Cloyd said you should leave it up to the professionals to get rid of it, because termites can stay unnoticed in your home for years.

How can I keep termites out of my Kansas home?

Just because you should wait for professionals to get rid of termites doesn’t mean you can’t do things now to stop an infestation in its tracks.

Here are some ways to make your home less attractive to termites, from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

  • Fix leaks to avoid moisture forming

  • Get rid of anything blocking vents

  • Do not keep wood debris against the house

  • Don’t have plants planted too close to your house

“Keep wood away from soil as much as possible, [put] gravel around or whatever, because [if not] that’s going to be very easy for termites, especially subterranean termites, to go create mounds and make contact with wood,” Cloyd said.