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Don’t let the termites bite!

So you have just purchased a beautiful home in Guelph, had a home inspection and everything came out great.  You move in and meet the neighbours, and they start talking about the neighbourhood termite problem.  Termites!!  In Guelph?  How can that be?  It is true, and termites can be a very serious problem, but the good news is they can be controlled and eliminated if you take the necessary steps.

Termites are not native to Canada.  They have been introduced through infected wood that has been brought in from the United States and have infected over 30 municipalities in Ontario.  Termites are invasive insects that can cause serious structural damage to the wood in your home and can be difficult and expensive to control. Their colonies are very big, some having several million insects and they can move through the soil and spread as they find fresh wood to eat.  They were first discovered in Guelph in the early 1970’s in the Goldie Mill Park area.  Currently there are over 800 properties in the termite management areas in Guelph, and these areas are now seeing a decline in the termite population due to the city and homeowners taking the necessary preventative actions.  Telltale signs that termites are moving from the soil to your home are “tunnels” going up the foundation wall to the framed part of the house.  Termites cannot be exposed to the elements, so in order to move from the soil to a home they build tunnels to travel in.  Once inside your home, they live inside the wood, do not make a sound and are almost completely undetectable.  They slowly destroy the wood structure from the inside out, and once you start seeing signs inside the home major damage has already occurred.

The largest area of termite infection in Guelph is situated in between Norfolk St and the Speed River and stretches from the downtown area to just south of Speedvale Ave.  There are also three smaller pockets of them, one near Queen/Palmer, second at Emma/Metcalfe and the third near Woodlawn/Inverness.  These last three pockets were created by people moving infected wood into a new area of town, and are relatively small compared to the larger area downtown.  So if you live in one of these areas what can you do?  It is a good idea to have your property inspected annually for termites and have bait stations set up outside to keep them away from the house.  This will help to kill any colonies that may be living outside before they can travel to your home.  Remove any dead or moist wood from your yard as this takes away material for them to feed on.  If you do encounter any wood that you think may be is infected, please make sure you call the city and arrange for an inspection and proper disposal procedures, if necessary.

If you are looking to purchase a property in one of these areas, I recommend making any offer conditional on a termite inspection and also obtaining any documents in the current owners possession that prove that proper preventative maintenance has taken place.  This will make sure you don’t get an unexpected surprise down the road that ends up costing you a considerable amount of money to fix.

Living in a Guelph termite zone is not the end of the world, as long as you protect your investment using the preventative measures.  For more information about termites and how the City of Guelph can help you, visit the City of Guelph web page pertaining to termites for more information.

2 Responses
  • Robin
    January 15, 2015

    Informative article! Always thought termites were exclusively a warm climate problem. I have heard about the damage they can do structurally and it is scary! Good info about the preventative methods. What exactly are bait stations? If the termites can’t be exposed to the elements I would think you’d have to burry the bait . . . ?

  • Ted Russell
    Ted R
    January 15, 2015

    Thanks for your response Robin. You are correct, the bait stations are buried about 12″ into the ground and have a wood core. This attracts the termites and they eat the bait, colony dies.

    Termites are a huge problem in the southern USA but, as most parasites do, they have adapted to living in Canada.

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