By Austin M. Frishman, Ph.D.
Most pest management companies inspect for signs of termites, which can include active termites, newly built mud tubes or termite wings left from alates (or swarmers). However, our industry must also engage in annual termite inspections to ensure everything is in working order, or to correct new problems that may arise since the last treatment.
During your first inspection, clearly indicate signs of termite damage you observed prior to treatment by using clear photos, graphs and written descriptions. This will help you document what occurred in the past year so you can notice any troubling signs of new swarms. Your initial inspection and all future inspections should be documented, and yearly records should be kept. Refrain from writing on the original graph as each inspection stands on its own and should be a complete inspection of the structure.
Note any environmental conditions that can alter the effectiveness of your liquid soil treatments each time you return to a termite treatment site for annual inspections. Some situations worth noting include:
- Shrubbery removed near the structure, or newly added plants like flowers and vegetables
- Added mulch that is thick enough to cause a potential problem
- Big-headed ants or other multi-ant colonies that have tunnels in the treated soil
- Broken, plugged or missing rain gutters or downspouts
- New debris, like wooden boards or cardboard boxes, stored adjacent to the treated structure
- Puddles accumulating near the structure
- Burrows in treated soil made by animals like rodents or armadillos
- Saturated soil near the structure from a weather incident, like a hurricane or deep snow
- A new invasive subterranean termite species that has been recorded in or near the area you are inspecting
- An added extension to the structure
While you’re scouting the area for notable records, remember that finding new wings within a structure does not guarantee live termites swarmed. Old wings can be pocketed in a seam around a door, a window of a bathroom and in other tight spaces. Termites can also be introduced into a structure via potted plants, picture frames, wooden hangers and other wooden or plant items.
Inspections are complex and require attention to detail, and registered termiticides work well when applied correctly and left undisturbed. Many things can alter a correctly applied treatment, so taking the time to observe all possible entryways can help ensure successful annual termite inspections.
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