Case Studies

Pests We Treat Case Studies: Can You Identify What Pest Decided to Infest? A Howell, NJ Homeowner Thought She Had Mice. We Found Termites.

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 by Alfonso Reyes


Recently, I went on a service call to a home in Howell, NJ. The homeowner contacted us because she believed that she had mice in her basement, but was not sure. Even though she turned out to be wrong on the identification, she was right about her most important decision: contacting a professional pest control service. 

In order to properly diagnose any pest issue, a thorough inspection of the property is necessary. An inspection is essential since it determines the proper treatment to resolve the infestation. An inspection helps us understand the cause of the pest infestation, their access point into the structure, where are the pests foraging, whether there are other pest infestations, and what treatment option is the most effective for the particular situation. Then and only then can we properly treat the current infestation, and more importantly, prevent future ones.

I started my basement inspection expecting to see signs of mice. Even when looking for one pest, a good pest control tech looks for anything and everything. Here, I came across a shocking discovery — Her entire basement was infested with termites! As bad as it is to have a mouse infestation, termites are far worse. Termites are wood-destroying insects that devour cellulose-based plant materials. And large colonies can eat a lot of it every year. All homes, regardless of their construction type, offer virtually unlimited “food” for termites.  They are known as “silent destroyers” because of their ability to destroy homes by chewing through wood, flooring, and even wallpaper completely undetected – silently eating materials from the inside out. Unfortunately, when signs of termite damage start to show, it usually means that severe damage has already been done. It is estimated that termites cause about $5 billion in property damage annually – damage that is not covered by most homeowners insurance policies. Since termite damage is considered preventable, homeowners are usually responsible for covering any repair and renovation costs out-of-pocket!

In the spring, as the ground warms up, termites emerge from underground nests in search of new structures to invade. Because swarmers have such a similar appearance to that of a winged or flying ant, many homeowners try DIY ant treatments, which are completely ineffective, or just ignore the problem. Big mistake. Once swarmers start to develop new nests nearby your home, your home is a prime target for termite damage.

Here, the basement already had fairly extensive termite damage, and I was surprised that it had gone unnoticed for so long. As I inspected the floor joists, I could see evident termite damage to the box sill plates. 


I immediately spoke to the homeowner and informed her of the termite issue in her basement. Needless to say, she wasn’t pleased. However, I assured her it was far better for her to know of the problem now rather than letting it continue undetected. She asked me to set up an appointment for one of our termite specialists to get this issue resolved and prevent any future termite damage. It is not easy to be the messenger of bad news to any homeowner, but at least now, with the infestation recognized, it can be treated before there is even more damage.

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