Outsmarting Termites Before They Feast On Your Home

Posted on: 26 January 2015

Termites have been our neighbors for as long as we have been here. Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder discovered fossilized termite nests 155 million years old. Termites have evolved into powerful, cellulose-eating machines. To keep them out of your house, you need to be smarter than they are. It starts with knowing what they are after.

The Hungry Termite Colony

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service estimates that a mature termite colony can contain from 200,000 to 2 million individuals. Most of the individual termites are sightless, wingless workers whose sole job is to find and bring back cellulose-rich food to feed the colony. When they restrict their feeding grounds to dead trees, tree stumps and roots, they aren't a problem.

The problem is that the worker termite doesn't know the difference between a rotting tree stump and the floor joist of a modern split-level home. You have to make that distinction for them if you want to avoid some hungry neighbors chewing on your house.

To make matters worse, the colony is a continuously running machine. Workers are looking for food all day, every day of the week. When they've infested a home, they can damage lumber, wood panels, flooring, drywall, wallpaper, fabric made of plant fibers and any paper products they can get their jaws on. The best defense is preventing these pests from finding your home.

Don't Invite Them In to Your Buffet

Your home is a tasty spread that will sustain the colony for many seasons. Keep them from knowing you are here with the following tips:

  • Don't let water accumulate around your house and foundation. Make sure rain water is diverted away from the foundation. Fill in any low spots that may allow water to pool. Keep gutters cleaned out and flowing freely.
  • Cut back any trees or bushes that come into contact with the house. Trim overhanging trees from the roof.
  • Keep stacks of fire wood or wood building materials as far away from the house as possible. Never let them touch the house.
  • Remove dead trees and grind out old tree stumps in the yard. Remove any partially buried pieces of wood. Clear out any brush piles that have accumulated in the yard.
  • Maintain several inches of clearance between the bottom of your house siding and the ground.

Have a residential pest control specialist inspect your yard for existing colonies and remove them before they get any closer to the house.

Looking for the Signs of Unwanted Guests

There are a number of things you can look for that indicate termite activity. However, they do their work inside pieces of wood and can do substantial damage before you notice any external signs of their presence. The pest control personnel know where termites like to live so they can do a thorough inspection of the house if you suspect any activity. A few signs you can look for include:

  • Winged termites in the fall and spring on their way to find new sites for a colony.
  • Small tunnels of mud that go into or under pieces of wood.
  • Wood pieces that show blistering, cracks or dark patches.
  • Large wood pieces sound hollow when hit and can easily be punctured by a knife or screwdriver.

Getting Rid of Your Pests

A termite control specialist must treat your house to kill the workers out scavenging as well as the core colony containing the individuals responsible for reproduction. Once the original colony is gone, you'll need to continue to watch the damaged areas for the presence of any individuals attempting to re-establish the colony. Once detected, it takes a team effort of you and the pest control people to make sure your hungry neighbors are gone.

Termites can do extensive damage to a home. You're better off never having to fight them by keeping them away. Click here for info on termites and residential pest control.