No Biting Matter: Understanding And Preventing A Termite Infestation

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As a homeowner, you most likely understand the importance of cleaning, maintenance, and repairs. From protecting the home's overall value and function to creating an appealing space for you and your family, it is easy to see the importance of home maintenance. Unfortunately, you may not be placing enough importance on termite control. Considering many species of these small insects can quickly grow into a colony of 500,000, termites can wreak havoc on your home's health and structure. Using this guide, you will understand that dangers of termites and learn the best options for prevention.

The 101 on Termite Damage

Termites do love wood, but an infestation of these insects can occur in various parts of your home, including underground. During the infestation, you may notice the following visible signs in and around your home:

  • Cracked, Chipped Paint – If you are seeing multiple cracks in painted wood surfaces, you may have a termite issue.
  • Hollow Wood – Over time, termites will eat out areas of your wood structure. If the wood sounds hollow, it may be due to an infestation.
  • Soft Wood – Surfaces may be soft to the touch due to termite damage.
  • Pathways – Visible tubes running from the soil to the wood above ground. Termites create these tubes out of fecal matter, soil, saliva, and other materials to move back and forth from one food source to another.
  • Frass – Fecal matter from termites, or frass, has a similar appearance to sawdust, so inspecting the matter closely is smart to distinguish the difference. Sawdust will appear as small shavings. However, termite frass looks like small pellets.

A termite infestation will not cause your home to crumble to bits, but it will require immediate treatment by professionals to prevent damage to your foundation, ceilings, and walls.

Preventing Termites

Termite infestations cause $5 billion dollars of property damage each year, so learning how to prevent these pests is essential.

Moisture attracts termites and other pests, but preventing it around your home can be challenging. Use the following tips to remove excess moisture in and around your home's exterior:

  1. Fix Leaks – Check your outdoor spigots, garden hoses, and irrigation system for leaks. Repair the leaks to prevent termites from your home's exterior.
  2. Remove Containers – Remove pots, planters, toys, buckets, and other items from around your home. Moisture can quickly buildup inside these unused containers, which will attract pests.
  3. Trim Landscaping – Moisture builds up on the shrubs, trees, and grass around your home, so be sure to trim landscaping periodically. Trim plants regularly and mow your lawn twice a month or more often to prevent overgrowth.
  4. Install Gutters – If your home does not have gutters, install them. Gutters and downspouts will force rainwater and other sources of moisture away from your home's immediate exterior. To ensure your gutters are in proper working order, clean them regularly. Remove dirt clumps, leaves, pine straw, and other debris from your gutters and downspouts.
  5. Ventilate – Be sure your home is properly ventilated. Open vents in your crawlspace and attic to the buildup of moisture.
  6. Seal – Consider sealing your crawlspace with plastic sheeting. This vapor barrier will reduce the amount of moisture under your home, decreasing your risk of termites and other pests.  

Once you eradicate the moisture problem, focus on any wood around your home. If you are planning a project, do not store them outside for long periods of time. Purchase treated lumber and use immediately. Remove dead trees and stumps from your yard, as well. Over time, lumbar and tree stumps will begin to warp and rot due to the weather.

Since wood is a main food source for termites, skip traditional wood mulch. Opt for rubber mulch or landscaping gravel as a safer alternative.

Eradicating a termite infestation can be physically and financially overwhelming. Using this guide, you will understand the dangers of termites and learn the best ways to prevent an infestation. Call a pest control company for professional help if you need it.