MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Terminix recently collaborated with Harris Interactive to gauge U.S. homeowners' sentiment around common pests, including termites. While many respondents had a basic understanding of the damage termites can cause, several startling misconceptions also emerged.
Of the more than 2,000 respondents, 94% believe termites can cause thousands of dollars' worth of damage, yet only 26% had ever had their home inspected for termites and only 16% reported having a current termite contract. Additionally, 43% believe termites can be controlled using standard, at-home, DIY treatments, while another 30% believe damage caused by termites would be covered by their homeowner's insurance policy – both of which are incorrect.
"While our branches treat year-round for termites, the calls really start picking up in the spring when swarms blanket cities across the country," said Stoy Hedges, a Terminix entomologist. "Once a home is infested, the average cost for termite treatment and damage repair can exceed $8,000, so having an annual termite contract is the best protection against these damaging and costly pests."
Termite swarms are weather-driven events that typically occur on sunny, warm, calm days following a spring rain. During a swarm, winged termites leave their existing colony to find a mate and establish new colonies. While termite swarming can occur as early as February, due to unseasonably cool and wet weather this winter, activity has been delayed throughout much of the country.
In addition to the Harris Interactive research, Terminix has also identified the U.S. metro areas with the highest number of inbound calls regarding termite activity. Based on Terminix call volume, the most termite-afflicted cities include:
San Diego, Calif.
Los Angeles, Calif.
New York City, NY
San Francisco, Calif.
Terminix created the list by compiling and analyzing termite-specific call volume to its more than 300 branches throughout the country. The rankings represent cities with the greatest call volume for the period of March 1, 2013 through February 28, 2014.
Termites are found in every state except Alaska and cause more than $5 billion in damage annually. Because termites generally eat homes from the inside out, they often go unnoticed by unsuspecting homeowners. Termites eat anything containing cellulose, including wood, paper, cardboard, wallpaper, drywall and even furniture. Colonies can remain hidden behind walls and other structural elements for years before their presence is detected and the extent of the damage becomes evident. Even more disturbing is that termite destruction is rarely covered by homeowners insurance, leaving the owners responsible for repairs.
Controlling termites requires the help of a trained professional, but homeowners can take the following simple steps to help make their home less inviting to these wood-destroying pests:
Fix roof and plumbing leaks. The moisture from these allows termites to survive above ground.
Clean and repair gutters. Gutters that do not drain properly can allow water to accumulate near the foundation.
Eliminate wood-to-soil contact. Any wood that simultaneously touches the soil and the home can provide termites with direct access to the structure. This includes keeping firewood or other wood debris from being stacked against the side of the home.
Keep mulch or soil from piling up directly against the home. Soil or mulch can hide termite activity and allow for easy access into the home.
Schedule an annual inspection with a trained professional. Prompt treatment and regular inspections can save thousands of dollars in damage repair.
The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive from February 28 – March 4, 2014 among 2,040 adults ages 18 and older. For more detailed information on the survey methodology, including weighting variables, please click here. *One in 20 claim is based on actual inspections performed by Terminix.