This time of year sees the emergence of daytime termite swarms in Massachusetts. During the winter season in the state, termites that are located above the soil’s frostline will die from the extreme cold. Termites that travel below the frostline usually stay just warm enough to survive the winter, but they remain motionless in a dormant state until the spring season arrives. Technically, alates (winged termites) can swarm at any time of year in Massachusetts provided that they emerge from active colonies within warm structures. However, when eastern subterranean alates swarm within a structure they quickly die and they almost never escape into the outdoors. In Massachusetts, eastern subterranean termite swarms occur between the months of March and May. Since the springtime has finally arrived, and termites are on the move again in Massachusetts, it is important for residents to protect their home from termite attack. To do this, residents must start off by eliminating problem areas on their property that may attract termites.
A well maintained lawn and garden is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it also helps to reduce the chances of termite invasions onto properties. Shrubs and bushes that make contact with a house provide subterranean termites with direct access to wood siding. If a home does not have wood siding, termites can still use branches to access exterior entry points that lead to structural wood. It is also important to remove branches, twigs and other loose forms of plant matter from a lawn, as termites can bypass a home’s termiticide soil barrier by traveling across these above ground wood sources. When landscaping, it is not advisable to use wood mulch around the border of a house since it can lead termites directly to a home’s structural wood; instead, use synthetic mulch or pea gravel to decorate your lawn and garden. If wood mulch is used, it should be placed at least 18 inches away from a home’s foundation, and firewood should be stacked at least 20 feet away from a home. Completing these simple landscaping tasks will significantly reduce a homeowner’s chance of falling victim to a termite infestation.