Can You Treat Termites in the Winter?

by Derrick | Last Updated: April 13, 2021

Homeowners know how pesky termites can be. These destructive pests get into our homes’ foundations and eat away, destroying the wood and costing hundreds of dollars. Termites hate cold weather, but what does this mean for treating them in the winter?

You can treat termites in the winter. Termites’ behavior is much more predictable during the colder months, so it might be the best time to treat them. These pests have developed sophisticated winter survival methods, which means year-round monitoring is necessary. 

The rest of this article will answer this question, go into some detail about their behavior in cold weather, information about treating them in the winter, and of course, some prevention techniques and warning signs. 

Where Do Termites Go in the Winter?

If you relax in the winter and feel like you don’t need to worry about termite infestations, you are experiencing a false sense of security. Winter months could bring far worse invasions because these cold-blooded insects are looking for warm places to hole up for the winter. 

Unlike other cold-blooded creatures, termites do not hibernate for the duration of the cold weather. Instead, they seek a safe place that offers warmth, wood, and water. Unfortunately, during the winter months, our basements tend to make a perfect hideout for termites to ride out the weather. 

If they cannot get into your home, they will likely find a stump dead tree to live in for the winter. Their goal is to always get below the frost line, which is the depth at which the soil freezes. By digging deeper into the ground, they are safe from freezing to death during winter. However, if they succeed in getting into a basement in the early days of winter, you can expect that they will remain active for the duration of the season. 

Why Is Winter Treatment Preferred?

Because we know that termites have to keep warm to survive during the cold months, professionals can be more strategic about their trap placement. Even though they are active year-round, they would prefer not to go too far from their nest to find food. Therefore, a termite bait trap makes for an attractive choice for the pest in the colder months. 

Warning Signs

Termites can be sneaky little bugs, often living in your home for months or years undetected. Homeowners should be proactive about professionals’ inspections, but it is equally essential to recognize evidence of termites themselves. Let’s take a look at a few warning signs to keep an eye out for when inspecting your home. 

Mud Tunnels

Termites create mud tunnels, also known as a termite tube, using dirt and their saliva. There are a few different types of tunnels, including exploratory, working tunnels, drop tunnels and swarming castles. These tunnels serve two purposes: protection from predators and a moist environment. 

You will recognize these tubes right away as out of the ordinary. If you find termite tubes in your basement or anywhere else in your home, reach out to your local termite and pest control company as soon as possible. 

Other Evidence

Termites are known for wood damage. You should keep an eye out for blistering in your hardwood floors. If termites are in or below your hardwood floors, the damage might present as water damage, but do not be too quick to rule out termites. Also, keep an eye out for hollowed or otherwise damaged wood. 

Termites eat through the wood in search of cellulose, which is what they like to snack on. Lastly, you might have termites if you find termite droppings or wings in windows or doors near your house. 

How to Prevent Termites

You’ve heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Well, now that you know that you can treat termites in the winter, let’s talk about preventing them. Homeowners that are proactive about termite prevention are less likely to deal with the headache of home damage down the road. This section will share a few of the many ways that you can keep these pests from damaging your home in the future. 

Do Termite Inspections

This one is a no brainer and is relatively simple to follow. You should have a professional inspect your home for termites annually. These folks are trained to recognize evidence of termites that might not be visible to the untrained eye. Inspections are even more critical if you live in an older home, as they are more susceptible to termite infestations. 

Use Proper Firewood Precautions

Wintertime means hot chocolate around the fire for many families. However, not practicing proper firewood precautions can equal a big “welcome home” sign to termites and other wood-eating or shelter seeking bugs. You can ensure bug-free firewood by following a few simple rules. 

Keep the Wood Dry

You can ensure your firewood stays dry by covering it with a tarp or keeping it under a covered garage or carport. Bugs prefer moist wood because it makes for much easier access to the inside of the log. For a more sophisticated covering option, you can opt for a Jacobable Firewood Rack Cover. You can expect that your wood will stay dry for an affordable price, and the material is durable to the harsh winter elements. 

Keep the Wood Outside

Storing firewood indoors might seem like convenience at first, but it is a warm welcome to termites and other critters seeking shelter. The wood should be stored outside and at least a foot away from the exterior of your home. Keeping the wood at least a foot from your house will make for easier inspections and make it more difficult for the termites to access your home if they are to infest the woodpile. 

Keep the Wood Off the Ground

Avoiding direct contact with the ground simply provides a barrier between the wood and the ground, making it more difficult for termites to access the wood. The easiest and most common way to do this is with a firewood rack.

A specially designed firewood rack is a sensible investment but will last for years and keep your wood off the ground. Consider this FOYUEE 8-foot long outdoor firewood rack. A tarp is a decent alternative if you do not want to purchase a stand. 

You can do a few other things for excellent firewood precautions to inspect the wood before bringing it into your house, burn it immediately, and rearrange your pile occasionally. If you follow all of these simple rules, you are more likely to avoid a termite infestation in your home. 

Keep Shrubs Trimmed

Just like with the firewood, maintaining your trees and shrubs will make it more difficult for termites to access your home. A good rule of thumb to follow is that they should be at least a foot (30 cm) away from the exterior wall of your home. The extra distance allows for easier inspection and for the area to dry out quicker. 

Avoid Mulch

Of course, we all want our homes to be beautifully manicured year-round. Unfortunately, mulch, one of the most commonly used landscaping materials, is very attractive to those pesky termites. Alternative landscaping ideas include pine needles or gravel.  

Final Thoughts

Termites can be costly to homeowners and almost always cause a headache. If you discover termites or termite damage in the wintertime, do not hesitate to treat them. Winter is the best time to treat them in some places because of their more predictable behavior. 

Beyond treatment, there are a few other things you can do to protect your home from termite damage. Know the warning signs, such as mud tunnels and wood damage, and follow the prevention section’s suggestions.