The recent rains have triggered termite swarms. We have recently seen three distinct swarms in Umstead State Park in Raleigh, NC. Most of the swarming activity that is occurring now takes place outdoors, which is simply a reminder that termites are around us outdoors. It's a good reminder to all of us that if any of your school buildings haven't been inspected for termites in a number of years, this might be a good time to get it done.
For those school systems that conduct their pest control in-house, we recommend that you look carefully for termite shelter ("mud") tubes on exterior foundation walls. For buildings with crawlspaces, check the wood along the top of the foundation (in the interior crawlspace), looking carefully for tubes and/or damage. This often means pulling back insulation in some areas to inspect. Be sure to inspect any “critical areas” for termite evidence. These areas include places where plumbing and other utility conduits penetrate slabs/foundations, cracks in foundations, areas around door and window frames, and areas prone to moisture problems.
If your school system contracts with a pest control company, your other option is to have them inspect the school buildings. There is a lot of confusion about what pest control companies can/cannot tell their customers. If there is no evidence of termite activity, a pest control inspector cannot tell someone that they "need" to have a structure treated. On the other hand, if it's been 10+ years since the structure was last treated, then the company might "suggest" a treatment as a way of protecting a major investment. But ultimately, the decision about whether or not to have a building treated for termites is up to your school system.
In instances where people have termite contracts with pest control companies, some companies have a clause in their contract that allows them to require retreatment of a structure after some interval (usually 5 years). This clause applies whether or not there are signs of termite activity. So, the advice is simple and the same as any other contract you sign - READ IT CAREFULLY.
Click HERE for more information about termites.
The rains will also leave behind water sources that can produce mosquitoes. While puddles of water will dry up, the major concern will be for items that may be present on school property: buckets, flower pots with dishes underneath, tarps covering items, and even tree holes. Remember to "Tip and Toss" - tip the item to drain the water and toss the items that aren't needed.
Click HERE for more information about mosquitoes.
Also, if you live in an area where fire ants are a problem, don't be surprised if you see mounds popping up. We've seen this same situation where dry summer conditions reduce surface activity but significant rainfall often affords the ants the opportunity to form mounds from what was previously very hard-packed soils.
Click HERE for information about fire ants.