Termites and other bugs on a tear, thanks to a warm Treasure Valley spring

If you like bugs, you’re going to love Boise this year.

The record-breaking warm temperatures in the Treasure Valley have given spiders, beetles, ants and termites a head start on procreating and making forays into local houses, according to some pest control companies.

Termite calls to Gemtek Pest Control in Garden City started early and are “way up from last year,” said CEO Brian Ellsworth.

By “way up,” he means they’ve had about a dozen calls. But a dozen by this time of year, and in certain neighborhoods, is a harbinger of a buggy year, he said.

“In the spring, we do get termite swarms, but normally that’s April, that’s May,” he said. “I’m sure as we go through the summer, we’ll see an abnormal (number of pests) because they had the whole spring to multi-ply. ... You’ve got an extra month of growth.”

Idaho’s dry climate with cold winters isn’t the most hospitable to termites. But certain subterranean termites do invade and cause damage to local homes.

Usually, Gemtek gets calls from the western Treasure Valley; this year, they’re coming from Boise’s North End as well, Ellsworth said.

Other local pest-control companies said their phones started ringing after the first warm spell of the year in February.

“We’re seeing more termites at least a month earlier than we normally would now,” said Todd Sawyer, owner of the local Orkin Pest Control franchise.

Sawyer said Orkin is receiving a call a day from property owners who fear they might have an infestation. “Probably 80 to 90 percent actually have termites,” he said. Calls are up for ants and spiders, too, he said.

“It is a pretty dramatic difference” from last year, said Vanguard Pest Control branch manager Sebastian Watt-Hayes. “Hard to predict what we’ll be dealing with this summer.”

But some longtime pest-control companies, such as Custom Care Pest Services, said this year doesn’t seem abnormally pesty so far.

Southwest Idaho is one of the only parts of the country that has infestations of elm seed bugs — six-legged elongated insects that resemble the better-known boxelder bug. Elm seed bugs invaded Idaho in 2012, bringing no harm but plenty of aggravation when they took up residence in local homes.

This year, they too are sneaking into houses earlier than usual, according to Sawyer.

“It’s always hard to forecast nature, but it appears as though a good over-wintering population of all” the bothersome bugs will mean “more pest pressure than a typical year in Boise,” he said.

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