28 Jun 2011

Termite Bask

All Posts 10 Comments

OK, so I moved into this house in Nashville in the fall of 2006. (Yes that’s right, I bought a house at nearly the peak of the housing bubble.)

From that time until today, I have (a) never seen any evidence of termites and (b) never had Terminix or other companies come.

Today, I had Terminix come to give my house a “booster shot.” There was no evidence of termite activity, but they were just doing an application to keep them at bay. That was in the early afternoon.

Just now, around 5pm, I went out to get my mail. I noticed that it was covered in (what I thought were) ants. Then I looked inside the mailbox and saw it was swarming with “ants.”

Well it turns out my wooden mailbox frame is covered with termites–hundreds of them.

The Terminix truck was parked near the bottom of my driveway, about 10 feet or so from the mailbox. Is there some conceivable way that hundreds of termites were in his vehicle and migrated to my mailbox? Or is this just an incredibly freaky coincidence?

Either way, what the heck do I do about my mailbox post that is covered with hundreds of termites? I don’t want to pay $300 or whatever it is, for them to come out and spray down a mailbox. Can I just buy something at the store, or is that being pennywise and pound foolish?

10 Responses to “Termite Bask”

  1. Andy says:

    I’d go to war with those things. Grab something at the store and prepare for battle.

  2. Luke says:

    Call them up and ask is there is a reason this is happening. It is possible that whatever they used it causing the termites to swarm and they somehow got in your mailbox. Since it is just your mailbox, I would go get something at wal-mart and try it out.

    What part of Nashville do you live in? I am currently in the Donaldson area.

  3. Gene Callahan says:

    My guess is they were in the house and were driven out by the treatment.

  4. MamMoTh says:

    My guess is it’s Ben Bernanke’s fault. She is the queen termite. Don’t get fooled by that beard. (And Gene is probably right)

    • King of MMT says:

      My guess is that the only way to get rid of termites is to destroy the house & the mail box. That will stimulate new termite free growth.


      • MamMoTh says:

        Of course, if you consider the termite sector which consists of the termites and Terminix, then the termite sector surplus is equal to the Murphys deficit.

  5. JimS says:

    Sometimes we soak fence posts in oil, diesel, or even tar them before we set them to keep insects and rot at bay. This is likely illegal, but I won’t tell on you if you don’t tell on me.

    Of course, I would never soak any wood for the house in a petroleum product for several reasons, fire being the most worrying.

    The Terminex guy may have applied some to your post, as it was close to the truck. Calling and asking is smart. $300 is nothing compared to possible damage. THink of it as an insurance payment.


  6. Luke says:

    I like the Terminix ad on the left.

  7. Lee Kelly says:

    They’re termites. They eat wood. The mailbox is made of wood. Do I need to go on?

    Were they “swarming” on the surface of the wood? That would be strange. Termites can eat a piece of wood until it has all the strength of folded paper, but it often still looks fine on the outside if it isn’t load bearing.

    I live in the woods. I sometimes find termites in rotting wood nearby, but I don’t worry much. The pest control people spray every so often — that’s the most important thing. You can’t really stop termites getting near your house (some have wings, after all), all you can do is stop them making themselves at home.

    I was at a house which had severe termite damage a couple of weeks ago. We had to tear out and replace every floor in the house, joists and all. Nasty job, removing all that termite eaten wood.

  8. Joseph Fetz says:

    Obviously, there are many scenarios that could come into play. Could they have planted termites, sure. Could you have not known that you have termites and they swarmed to your mailbox after the treatment, possibly. Or, could it have been a coincidence, probably. More likely, if your entire mailbox is made of untreated wood that there was a nest in the post, and that they finally made their way to the “box”. While it does seem to be a strange coincidence given your “booster shot” service, I have seen stranger things happen. If it was the original mailbox made from untreated wood, then I would suspect that the latter case is more likely.

    I certainly would not pay any money to have the mailbox treated for termites, more than likely this will be exceed the value of the mailbox. I don’t know if you have a contractual agreement with Terminex®, but even if you did, the value of the added service would exceed the benefit. For you, your kids, your home, and your mailman, it looks like you are better off pulling that mailbox post and installing a new one. If you buy a run of the mill mailbox, post and concrete, this will cost about $80 (if you do the concrete mixing and setting yourself). However, if you want an all wooden mailbox, then you have to have a woodworker or really good carpenter make it up for you (they probably charge between $150-$300 depending upon the design).

    Another option is to try to salvage the actual box (if it is a wooden-custom box) and just replace the post. If you do this, then the box will need to be treated (which can be done using Dominion 2L). More than likely the termites, if they are an infestation, have built their colony in the thicker and more robust 4×4 post. So, I would say from a cost analysis perspective that this is you best bet if you have a custom-built wooden mailbox that you really like. But, if it is just a run of the mill mailbox, pull it and chuck it, go out and buy one of those plastic mailboxes and a new post, and set it.


    Plastic mailbox, post, and concrete- $80 (if you need a post digger add $20)
    Treatment- $150-$300, plus the wood is already eaten
    New custom mailbox , post, and concrete- $180-$330 (add $20 for post digger)
    Restoration/treatment of box, new post and concrete- $80 (add $20 for post digger)

    It all really depends on what you want. But, the primary goal is to get that infested mailbox dealt with as soon as possible. Also, if you do decide to put in a new mailbox, don’t be shy about asking around the neighborhood. Sure, your neighbors won’t have an extra mailbox lying around, but they may have an extra bag of concrete, or a post hole digger that you can borrow. Shoot, they may even have a 4×4 or a woodworking shop in their garage/basement. You never know.