Originally created 08/15/04

Termites can eat away your bank account, too



Here's one for you: According to those in the know at the Entomological Society of America, you can expect insect populations to be more active than in recent years, and believe it or not, all because of recent changes in the weather. "Weather or not" -- structural pests left unchecked can become a costly proposition for a homeowner.

Here are a few statistics that may encourage you to take action if you suspect a termite invasion has occurred at your place:

Termites cause more than $2.5 billion in damage to U.S. homes each year -- that's more than fire, storms and earthquakes combined!

Fifty billion termites infest about one million U.S. homes (one in every 30 U.S. homes) each year.

Termites can be hidden for 10 to 12 years before a swarm becomes visible. Homeowners insurance does not cover termite damage, so annual inspections are critical and far less costly.

A small colony of approximately 60,000 termites can eat a linear foot of a 2-by-4 in about five months.

Several termite colonies could be present in as little as one acre of land and contain more than one million termites.

Our recommendation: Have your home inspected for termites on a regular basis. In areas where termites are known to be doing major damage, we suggest that you have your home inspected by a structural pest control operator (termite contractor) at least once a year.

By the way, if you are considering a new home, make sure that the builder has treated the area with an approved termiticide that will discourage the tiny buggers from eating away at the structure.

If you would like to try a do-it-yourself approach, there is a Web site you should check out -- www.doityourselftermitecontrol.com. The company can be contacted by phone at (800) 476-3368.

Although we do not strongly encourage self-management of structural pests, we think that anything that can be done to supplement regular inspection by a professional is a good thing.

There are other insect populations on the rise that also present a serious public health threat -- especially with more people heading outdoors for picnics, barbecues and camp-outs.

The people at Bayer Environmental Science provided the following statistics:

More than 75 percent of Lyme disease cases are contracted in residential properties -- thats your backyard!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded nearly 20,000 human cases of Lyme disease in 2000, with 23,763 human cases reported in 2002 -- an increase of 15 percent in two years. Moreover, health officials believe that only one in 10 cases is actually reported.

Lyme disease cases have been reported in every state in the country.

For more information on ticks, Lyme disease and how to check for and eradicate ticks on your property, you can contact the American Lyme Disease Foundation, Mill Pond Offices, 293 Route 100, Somers, NY 10589. You can e-mail questions to Inquirealdf.com or check out their Web site at www.aldf.com.

Once you've experienced the pain associated with an encounter with a pack of fire ants you will want to learn everything there is to know about how to get rid of them, or at the very least how to completely avoid contact with them. Here is some interesting information:

Fire ants are extremely resilient, and their ability to return and thrive after the application of most insecticides makes them difficult to control.

Colonies have multiple queens that can produce as many as 1,500 eggs per day for as long as seven years.

Nearly 40 million Americans live in potential conflict with fire ants. Fire ants don't just sting once; they release an attack hormone that calls other ants to swarm and sting in large numbers.

It is estimated that 20 million people are stung each year by fire ants.

According to the Medical University of South Carolina, 10 percent to 15 percent of all people can have severe localized allergic reactions to fire ant stings, and up to 2 percent can have a systemic allergic reaction, which in rare cases can result in death.

Published reports estimate that Americans spend $2 billion annually in the fight against fire ants. These costs include property damage repairs, control and treatment costs and medical bills (for humans as well as animals).

If you are experiencing a problem with fire ants, check out this Web site: http://fireant.tamu.edu/.

To find a company in the business of providing a pesticide for fire ants, check out www.nofireants.com.

Spend a more comfortable and safe summer without being attacked by all the little things.

And, thats all there is to it.

For more home improvement tips and information visit our Web site at www.onthehouse.com.