The word “termites” strikes instant fear in the hearts of homeowners. Termites can be a nightmare. These tiny insects enter homes through the tiniest openings in the foundation to feast on the wooden structure of your home. Termite damage can be costly and time-consuming. In fact, every year termites cause billions of dollars in structural damage, and property owners spend over two billion dollars to treat them according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Termites are known as silent destroyers because of their ability to gnaw on wood, flooring and even wallpaper undetected. A common misconception is that termites only infest wooden structures or homes. Termites require four things to survive food, moisture, shelter and warm temperatures. Unfortunately, most homes regardless of construction type can provide these conditions. Termites primarily forage on wood, but also known to destroy paper, books, insulation, and even filtration systems. Knowledge of the fundamentals of termite infestation like identification, warning signs, and preventive measures are essential to protecting homes from termite infestation.
The first step in prevention is to be on the alert for termites. Most people are not conscious of termite activity until it becomes an infestation. There are approximately 2,600 species of termites; they are small insects comparable in appearance to ants. Termites can be distinguished by their straight antennae, widely-joined waist, and equal size wings. (Ants have elbowed antennae, pinched waists and wings of different lengths). It can be very difficult to detect termites in your home before they become a problem; it is more likely to identify the signs of termite damage before you spot termites themselves.
There are two main species of invasive termites, subterranean termites found living underground and drywood termites that live entirely in wood. In Lexington, KY subterranean termites are most prevalent: they begin their feeding process (damage) from the soil up and typically enter a building through the sub-structure. Buildings or structures with crawl spaces are at great risk. Some of the signs of a subterranean termite infestation are listed below:
- Groups of winged insects (“swarmers”)
- Hollow-sounding wood
- Cracked or distorted paint on wood surfaces
- Mud tubes on exterior walls
- Discarded wings
- Frass (feces of termites)
Once a termite infestation is identified, it can be challenging to control. On average, colonies take years to grow to a size capable of causing extensive damage.
Purchasing a home for most of us is the biggest investment in our lifetime. Termites pose a serious threat to your investment. Homeowners should be concerned about the potential damage termites can cause in and around the home. Areas with higher probabilities for termite activity require more termite control measures than areas with less frequent activity. Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent termites from attacking your home; however, the best way to prevent termites is to have your home inspected for them annually.
- Know the danger for termites in your region, if you are buying a new home; ensure it has been inspected for all insects that can cause structural damage. Inspections are important in neighborhoods where there is a history of termites.
- Changes in your home can necessitate more periodic by a trained pest management specialist; these changes can include cracks in the foundation or the walls of your home. Detecting the less obvious signs of an infestation could save you a lot of money and stress.
- Identify and correct any structural deficiencies that attract or promote subterranean termite infestations. Ideally all substructure wood beneath the building should be kept at least 12 inches above the soil.
Eradication of termites is a complex task and requires a distinctive skill-set. Prior knowledge of building structure is needed to identify the critical areas. The critical areas in buildings are potential entry points that are often hidden or difficult to access. To completely and safely remove termites from your home, it is a job left to the professionals. Do-it-yourself products will seldom eliminate an existing termite problem. At the first sign of termite infestation, call a licensed pest management company to do an inspection. A Truly Nolen termite specialist can recommend a customized treatment and prevention plan!