Know your termites

Termite infestations may be one of the most costly pest infestations for homeowners. Known as “silent destroyers,” these bugs often act undetected, destroying wood, flooring and even wallpaper. The ruin they cause with their saw-like teeth costs Americans $5 billion in property damage every year, according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). Because many insurers do not cover termite damage, it’s critical to bring in an exterminator early on to limit damage.

Termites are often found in unexpected places. Subterranean pests can destroy plastic plumbing pipes and swimming pool lines or even collapse an entire building. To safeguard property, homeowners should understand which termite species their property may be exposed to. Because there are different varieties of these insects, they can cause many types of damage. However, pest control can be relatively easy if termites are found early on.

Dampwood termites
These brown critters are attracted to moisture. While they are unlikely to be found in structures, water damage or leaky pipes should be treated immediately to avoid luring dampwood termites in. The NPMA states they’re often found in Pacific coastal regions, semi-arid states in the Southwest and southern Florida.

Homeowners should reduce humidity in crawl spaces with clean ventilation to avoid creating an inviting environment for dampwood termites. These bugs should also be on the radar of homeowners on the East Coast who experienced damage during Hurricane Sandy.

Drywood termites
As their name implies, drywood termites infest dry wood and can ravage attic framings, according to the NPMA. These light brown bugs do not need soil to survive and can form colonies of up to 2,500 members. Because they prefer a dry climate, they are most often reported between South Carolina and Texas and in parts of California.

Subterranean termites
These pests are the most menacing of the 2,500 termite species. They live underground or in moist secluded areas with colony populations that can reach 2 million. They build mud tubes to access food and to protect themselves from open air,according to the NPMA, and these tunnels may be one of the first signs of a pest problem in a home. Subterranean termites vary in size and most are cream-colored or brown.

Formosans, which are a breed of subterranean termites, are extremely troublesome because they are aggressive and nest quietly inside building walls. After this type of pest is discovered, it needs to be eliminated immediately, as colonies can be extremely destructive.

To avoid problems with subterranean termites, the NPMA suggests maintaining a one-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of buildings, but residents need to be on the lookout for other signs of pest invasions. Often, a termite infestation begins with swarmers, or pests looking to develop a new colony. Upon first sight of these winged bugs, homeowners should contact an exterminator to prevent structural damage and the expenses associated with severe termite infestations.

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