CINCINNATI -- Ah, spring! It's when flowers bloom, newborn lambs prance among the honeysuckle, and millions of termites erupt from the earth with two goals: Expand the colony and feast.
"As soon as spring hits, all the swarmers come out," exterminator Eric Scherzinger said.
They frequently grow their colonies in homes that already have human tenants, causing up to $5 billion in United States property damage every year. That's where Scherzinger enters the picture, wading into homes that have thousands -- sometimes hundreds of thousands -- of unwelcome guests.
Most homeowners would prefer they never had to call him, of course. Scherzinger sympathizes. Here are his tips to keep termite colonists from making your home their buffet.
Eliminate dampness, which provides a breeding ground for all kinds of insects. Accumulated moisture anywhere in your house can provide a welcoming starter home in which termites feel comfortable enough to chow down.
Keep 18 inches of space between any wood in your home and the soil beneath. Termites need to return to the soil each day, so make it inconvenient for them to get from Point A to Point B; they'll likely look elsewhere.
Finally, if you already do have termites, Scherzinger said bait stations are the best way to get rid of them. Underground bait stations, which can be installed in a yard, contain an irresistible (for termites) food that also contains enough poison to wipe out the entire colony.