Can my house get infested if I bring swarming termites home with me?

Barbara e-mailed in this question:

"Hi,

I have a question about termites.

I teach in a school that is infested with termites. Nightly I take home papers to grade, my teaching bag and books. Right now the termites are swarming! I spray Lysol in my purse nightly so I kill them. WHat are that chances that I have taken termites home to my own house? Should I have my own house sprayed? It is very costly and I don't want to do it if I don't have to.

Thanks,

Barb"

I wouldn't pay for spraying without some evidence that they had actually infested your home.

Swarming termites die within about 24 hours on their own, so one thing you might do is keep your bag and books inside a garbage bag or some kind of sealed off area when you aren't using them.

When you're using them, do it somewhere you could see a termite if it came out (on the kitchen counter, etc.).
 

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Even if one got into your house, it's not a sure thing that it would be able to start a colony successfully (many die beforehand). It's actually pretty rare for an indoor swarmer to start a new colony because they usually can't find a source of moisture. When they're outdoors, they fly around and start the colony underground, then burrow over to people's houses. They need access to the soil to have a water source (the standard for them is get food in the house, get water outside). If you've got wet or rotting wood somewhere that might be an issue, but I would doubt it.

The other thing to remember is that termites usually don't do any significant damage to a home for several years. It would probably be cheaper to wait seven or eight months and then have the house inspected than to have it sprayed without knowing whether there's anything there.

You can read more about swarmers here.

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