Termites: Silent Saboteurs
Termites pose a serious problem to homeowners and property investors due to their ability to create massive structural damage over a short period of time. Varying in color from pale white to brown, these pests can reach one inch long—depending on what species they are, and may also have wings.
Similar to ants, termites live, feed, and breed in colonies run by a caste system. Each type of termite in this social hierarchy has different goals, such as finding food, raising young, and laying eggs. These colonies form in the ground or in wood, as the cellulose from wood fibers is a termite’s favorite food. If they find their way onto your property, they can easily grow into an infestation without you realizing it, potentially costing you a lot of money to replace or fix the structural integrity of your home or business. Termite colonies cost property owners millions of dollars every year in damages, when a termite control service can easily inspect for them and keep them at bay.
What attracts termites?
Outdoor wood piles:
Many people who collect and burn firewood in their homes like to keep their firewood stacks near their home and under cover. While this is often convenient and keeps firewood safe from the elements, termites love infesting wood stacks, so this can be a potential factor that leads to termites entering your home. It’s best to keep stacks of wood away from the main walls of your home and elevated so termites can’t reach them.
Tree stumps are a prime location for termites to begin an infestation on your property. They are dead wood that can easily become soft and moist as they rot, which is like a “welcome home” sign for termites. If termites are allowed to infest tree stumps and other forms of dead wood on your property, it may be only a matter of time until they find a way into your home.
Mulch is a great resource for gardening, but since it’s a thick layer of small pieces of dry, dead wood, it can become a smorgasbord for termites. Not only that, many people allow mulch to directly touch the foundations of their homes instead of putting some sort of barrier between them. If termites get into your mulch while it’s touching the foundation of your home, they can easily find cracks and crevices to dig through in your foundation and walls and start infesting your home.
Roofs offer many opportunities for termites to enter your home. If you have low-hanging branches that touch your roof, they could act like a bridge for termites. If you have clogged gutters that have difficulty draining, termites may also find this area appealing. From these locations, termites can make short work of getting through a roof and infesting the rest of a home.
Many houses that are set on top of crawl spaces or that have unfinished basements or cellars may be targeted by termites. These kinds of places are notorious for holding onto moisture and leaving wooden structural supports open and vulnerable to infestation. If a termite colony manages to get under your house in this way, it could potentially do a great deal of damage.
Signs of Termites and Termite Damage:
Several key clues signal that termites may have created a colony in your home. Even if you don’t spot an actual termite, they could quickly and quietly damage your property. Although they may seem small, homeowners should immediately consult a professional upon finding any of the following signs of termites:
Termite swarmers, also known as alates, are the reproductive members of a termite colony. Unlike worker or soldier termites, they have two pairs of large, pale wings. Because of their appearance, people often confuse them with flying ants. Swarmers do not bite, sting, or eat wood; their only purpose is to leave the colony during the swarming season to find mates and establish new colonies through reproduction.
Spring weather signals the start of termite swarming season. Swarmers tend to emerge in large groups during the early spring when temperatures begin to reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and swarming can continue to occur several more times throughout the year. Finding termite swarmers inside your home is often the sign of an active termite infestation. If you see or suspect swarmers on your property, contact us today for an inspection!
A pile of wings is a sign that swarmers have emerged in the recent past. This is particularly true if an individual has seen “flying ants” recently. Only finding wings is important since termites pull their wings off shortly after landing and finding a mate, while ants keep their wings attached. Common places that piles of wings are usually located are by a porch or in the windows.
Mud tubes are probably the most recognizable sign of termite activity. These are small straw shaped tubes of mud allowing termites to move back and forth between their food source and their colony while maintaining their moisture requirements. The tubes are typically against a structure, but can be suspended in midair on occasion.
Termite castles are another sign that termites have been present at a location. These look very similar to mud tubes, but you will find a cluster of them and they are usually a little thicker than mud tubes. These are built around the time a colony releases swarmers.
Termites leave small, brown droppings, known as “frass”. These droppings often look like wood particles or sawdust due to how much wood termites eat. If you find these pellet-shaped droppings, your home may have a termite infestation.
Damage to structure and belongings
Finding damaged wood is never a fun experience for a homeowner, but the condition of the wood tells us everything we need to know. Subterranean termites bring the mud into the wood with them to maintain their moisture requirements and feed along the grain.You can crack this mud open and see if any live termites are inside to determine if the area is actively being fed on. If the mud is completely dried out and brittle, that spot may have been abandoned for more hospitable areas. A pest management company can inspect this evidence and let you know if there is still active termites in that area and what options you have. Additional structural repairs may be necessary depending on how extensive the damage is.
How to Get Rid of and Prevent Termites:
Soil and barrier treatments are the most common approaches when tackling a termite infestation. Soil treatments involve applying termitcide to the soil underneath or around the foundation of a building, creating a chemical barrier that protects the exterior of your home and stops termites from tunneling through. Soil treatment is considered a form of chemical barrier treatment. Barrier treatments can also protect the interior of your home through the use of other physical or chemical termite barriers. Here are a few ways to prevent termites: Keep It Dry – Divert rainwater away from your home and be sure to repair any leaks. Keep crawl spaces and basements dry and well ventilated. Scrap wood and firewood should be discarded or stored away from buildings. Wood should be kept above ground and covered so it can stay dry. Remove dead trees, stumps, and roots near your home. Seal any structural cracks or crevices in the walls or foundation of your building. Wood can be treated with termitcide to prevent termites from feasting. Borate treatments are absorbed into the wood, preserving the wood and acting as a barrier to termites. To learn more about what our termite inspections and treatments look like click to learn more below.