It is no secret that termites cause billions of dollars of damage every year in the United States. They prey on building foundations, joists, studs and even furniture once they get inside. Getting rid of them can be both difficult and expensive. In reality, termites are not looking for a “house” to munch on. What they want is something called organic cellulose usually found in dead plants and trees.
Termites inhabit colonies that can consist of a quarter million or more. They usually live in the soil or in the wood they consume. They can be found in dead tree stumps or in mounds built to house their colonies. Termites swarm in the spring, which is when they are most noticeable. A homeowner may notice mud tunnels they make as they transport food sources.
The key to living with termites is to stop them from moving in. Termites thrive in moist conditions, so it is essential to take the following steps:
- Eliminate moisture around your home.
- Repair leaking faucets, water pipes and air conditioning units. Divert water away from your home’s foundation, keep gutters and downspouts clean and get rid of standing water on your roof. Also remove excessive plant cover, wood mulch and seal entry points around water and utility lines or pipes.
- Remove food sources.
- Keep firewood, yard debris and lumber away from your home’s foundation or crawl space.
- Inspect your home’s foundation regularly.
- Drywood termites burrow mazes of tunnels and chambers within walls and furniture and leave behind feeces that resemble pellets. After they swarm, they shed wings, which may be found in small piles around your home. Subterranean termites construct tunnels from mud, their feces and saliva. The presence of these tunnels near the foundation of your home is a pretty good indicator of a termite infestation.
- Reduce openings that offer access to your home.
- Use cement, grout or caulk to fill cracks in foundations as well as around the spots where utilities pass through the wall.
- Plant carefully.
- Ensure that trees and shrubs are not planted too close to the structure and do not allow them to grow against exposed wood surfaces.
- Inspect periodically.
- If you do see a termite colony, you will want to destroy them immediately.