Termites are wood-eating machines and can't tell the difference between a rotting tree stump and your split-level home. Once these insects get established in a home, they are hard to remove without the help of a termite control company. Here is what you need to know about these pests and how to keep your home from becoming their next meal.
There Is Power in Numbers
A termite colony can have from 200 thousand to 2 million termites living in it. Most of these are blind, wingless workers that have the singular job of finding a cellulose-rich food source for the colony. Their senses of smell and taste are advanced and lead them to wood, paper, cardboard and other fibrous materials that they can digest and bring back to feed the colony.
Given their numbers, termites become a hazard to your home quickly. They will feast on your ceiling rafters as easily as a pile of firewood. They will continue to consume the food source until it's gone and move onto the next one. Furniture, wood paneling, wallpaper, and even the paper covering of drywall are all a dinner buffet for these creatures.
The Signs of a Termite Presence
You'll rarely see individual termites out scouting. They like to eat concealed inside of walls and pieces of wood. They will hollow out boards with their ravenous behavior until the board fails and collapses in on itself, or just leave an empty husk. You may need the help of a professional termite control company who knows where to look, but you can do some investigating yourself.
With a flashlight and screwdriver, look for:
- small tunnels of mud that lead under wood piles or rotting tree stumps outside
- blisters or cracks on wood siding or interior paneling
- raised areas, indicating tunnels, in wall studs, ceiling and floor joists
When you spot a suspicious piece of wood, knock on it with the screwdriver and if it sounds hollow, see if you can push the screwdriver into the wood, exposing the hollowed out core.
Evicting the Termites
A pest control company is needed to spray for these insects and get into those areas they are most likely to inhabit. They must destroy the breeding queen to get rid of the colony, and that may take a series of treatments. The company will spray around the foundation and along the edges of your wood siding to prevent the pests from coming into the house. Inside, they'll treat the structural wood components to keep your home physically sound. They will point out where there is structural damage that needs repaired to keep your home safe.
Preventing New Pests from Coming Into Your Home
While pest control is treating your home, you'll work on the ways to prevent new termite workers from seeing your home as their next meal.
- Keep water drained away from your foundation so water doesn't pool near the house.
- Keep bushes and trees trimmed so they don't touch the house.
- Keep stacks of firewood and wood construction materials as far from the house as possible.
- Keep a space between the ground and the edge of your wood siding.
- Get rid of any dead trees and grind any stumps to below ground level.
Contact a professional pest control service for more information on protecting your home from termites.