As a homeowner, your property is one of your biggest investments. However, a termite invasion can quickly and quietly destroy your home’s value. Preventing termite damage begins with understanding termites, what they eat and key signs of an infestation. Here are some things you could be doing that are attracting termites.
WHAT ATTRACTS TERMITES?
In general, termites create colonies near sources of food. Because termites eat soft or rotting wood, they usually seek moist places or places where decayed wood is present. Homes and the surrounding property can become prime environments for termite colonies if wood is not treated or maintained. These situations encourage termites to move from their natural habitats into developed areas.
There are several different types of termites that you’re likely to find infesting your home. Subterranean termites create colonies in the ground near sources of wood and use specially dug tunnels known as mud tubes to move from place to place. A subterranean termite nest can be huge, spanning multiple properties. Dampwood termites are specifically drawn to moist, soft wood. They build colonies in structures where moisture is often present, such as cellars, crawlspaces, sheds and other outdoor wooden structures. Drywood termites don’t require as much moisture to survive, so they will often build their colonies in other locations with lots of wood. They can be found throughout a home and even in places like attics and garages.
Here are some DIY things you can do to prevent a termite problem from developing in your home.
PILES OF WOOD
Firewood and woodpiles can attract termites, drawing them closer to your home. Then, termites will migrate from the piles of wood to the housing structure, causing a great deal of damage inside. To avoid a termite invasion, stack wood 20 feet away from your home and keep it at least five inches off the ground.
Dead trees and stumps attract termites as they rot. Termites will migrate from this excess foliage to your home. To prevent this, clear stumps and dead trees from your yard.
TREE LIMBS AND LEAVES
Tree limbs and leaves that touch the roof can attract termites to your home. These branches give termites a pathway from the ground to your house. Regular tree trimming can dissuade termites from migrating to your roof.
Similar to tree limbs, mulch can draw termites closer to your home. The wood chips retain moisture, providing an attractive food source, especially for dampwood termites. Lower your likelihood of developing a termite problem, especially in your home’s foundation, by keeping mulch at least 15 inches from your foundation.
As leaves and twigs build up in your gutters, the excess moisture softens or rots your roof. These soft spots allow termites to penetrate your home. Clean gutters lower the opportunities for termites to invade by preventing a soft or rotting roof.
SIGNS OF TERMITES
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 shed their wings shortly after they find a mate, leaving behind an obvious sign that they are occupying a space. If you see piles of wings on your porch or in windows, you may have a termite infestation.
Termites build mud tubes to commute between their food source and main colony. If you find these tunnels in the ground or inside wood on your property, you may find more termite activity inside your home.
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.
In the later stages of a termite infestation, homeowners may notice damaged wood. A pest control company can tell you if the damaged wood came from termites or another structural issue.
Debunking common termite misconceptions can empower homeowners to protect their property. Termite limitations and preferences reveal the key areas where they enter and damage homes. While termites are destructive, you can discourage them from building a colony in your home by understanding the ways they behave.
DO TERMITES REALLY EAT WOOD?
Termites eat wood and anything containing cellulose, such as wallpaper, books, boxes, carpet backing, drywall and furniture. In their natural environment, termites support the ecosystem. They digest rotting wood, turning it into humus, an organic material that improves soil. When land development displaces termites, they can occupy and destroy buildings.
CAN TERMITES EAT THROUGH PLASTIC?
Termites cannot eat through plastic. However, they may try to break through plastic to access a food source.
DO TERMITES EAT CONCRETE?
Termites cannot eat concrete. Because termites can fit through cracks and crevices in concrete, homeowners may think termites chewed through this tough barrier.
WILL BORIC ACID KILL TERMITES?
Boric acid is not an effective DIY method to get rid of a termite infestation. While a termite will die if it ingests boric acid, this treatment will not destroy a termite colony, and at best, you’d likely only kill a few worker or soldier termites that a termite queen can easily replace. A termite colony can only be destroyed through the advanced treatment methods of a pest control professional.
Homeowners should schedule termite inspections during three key times. First, prospective home buyers should consult a pest control service during the purchasing process. An inspection can reveal termite damage, allowing for treatment and repairs during negotiation. Second, homeowners should schedule a professional inspection every 3 to 5 years. These inspections can stop an infestation early or prevent future infestations by advising changes to the home and landscaping. Third, anyone who has had a termite treatment in the past should schedule ongoing, preventative termite renewal.
Often, pest control companies will provide termite control packages to maintain your treatments after an infestation. If you suspect your home may have a termite infestation, contact us today!