Tornadoes, Termites Can Be Tandem Problems

Termite applications may be disturbed by repairs in wake of tornadoes.

Published on: May 11, 2011

Carolina-Virginia farmers and urban dwellers, alike, who experienced damage from the spate of tornadoes across the region recently, typically say the tornado hit them quickly. The tornado did all its damage in 60-seconds or so; then was suddenly gone. The reality is the full extent of damage may only be discovered over time.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services notes that many homeowners may be thinking about damage they can easily see, so they may not be thinking about other important things like their termite coverage. Yet, when they make building repairs their termite treatment agreements may be affected.

N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler advises owners to check with their pest control provider about continuing protection under their current warranties and agreements.

"Agreements vary from company to company, but some may require areas of a house or building or an entire house or building to be treated again to ensure protection," Troxler says. "That is especially true if the soil next to your foundation wall has been disrupted."

When a pest management company performs an additional service, a fee may be charged for the retreatment. In addition, the homeowner will need to take the initiative since there will be situations where the treatment company may not know about the rebuilding or that treatments have been disturbed.

NCDA&CS notes some warranties for termite control, may lack conditions under which retreatments are required. However, although the pest management company sometimes cannot require payment for retreatments, in many such situations homeowners would be well advised not to take the risk of a termite reinfestation; it makes sense for homeowners to try to come to an agreement with the company to correct the problem.

The Department notes that if new treatments are needed, the homeowner's insurance may cover all or a part of the cost. Of course, they will need to check with the insurance company to determine if termite retreatments are covered. It would be wise to do this in as timely a fashion as possible.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes that each year, termites cost an estimated $1 billion in U.S. property damage, preventive measures, and structural repairs.

According to the report Biology and Control of Subterranean Termites by entomologist Michael Waldvogel of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, termites cause more wood damage in the southern U.S. than any other pest. Waldvogel notes estimates of money spent on treatments are as high as $2billion.

In North Carolina the largest problem comes from subterranean termites, that is, those that normally live below ground but move up in a structure where they dine on the timber.

Termites in the state are usually treated in a "trench and treat" application, the report notes. Soil is dug to about 6 inches deep, about 4-6 inches wide. Liquid insecticides are applied to the soil surrounding critical areas of the house. For houses with crawlspaces, the soil along the interior foundation is treated within 4 feet of identified signs of activity.

There are also other types of treatments, including baits, that can be effective if properly applied.

Download the complete N.C. Cooperative Extension Report  at

NCDA&CS notes that homeowners should also be aware that natural disasters often bring scam operators into an area. These are often associated with cleanup and restoration and so NCDA&CS advises effected homeowners be cautious.

Those who have questions regarding termite retreatments or the legitimacy of a pest management company, can contact the Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 919-733-6100 or go to