Dear Ken: We’re about to buy a 1971 house. The current owners thought they saw termites, so they had a pest control company put in a perimeter bait system. Do you think I really need it? — Chris

Answer: Termites are relatively rare in the Rocky Mountain West. There are pockets of them here and there, but they are the comparatively tame Eastern Subterranean species — not the Formosan variety you hear about in the South. What your friends might have seen were carpenter ants or, perhaps, powder post beetles or some other pest. Hint: Termites have a straight waist, while the ants have a more traditional insect’s pinched waist, and the beetles are very tiny, maybe 1/4-inch long.

It’s pretty rare that yours would be the only infested house in the neighborhood. Termites swarm seasonally and will move from place to place over short distances. So check with the neighbors to see if there are others. Also, you could have the pest control company show you evidence of infestation, such as mud tubes here and there. Without these travel channels, it’s unlikely that you have termites.

Also, they will have a log of any damage to the wood strips in the perimeter bait holes. If there’s any doubt, continue with the service, but it’s appropriate to be skeptical around here.

Moon is a home inspector in the Pikes Peak region. His radio show airs at 9 a.m. Saturdays on KRDO, FM 105.5 and AM 1240. Visit