The Billion Dollar Chew: Termites Eat Through Homes and Businesses

Each year, termites cause billions of dollars in damage, and homeowner’s insurance will not cover the cost of treatment.

These invisible destroyers cause more damage in the U.S. than storms, fires and floods combined. The National Pest Management Association estimates that termites are responsible for $5 billion in property damage every year.

While you sleep, termites may literally eat you out of house and home and even your business. And while they eat 24 hours a day, their damage is insidious because you usually do not see them or the damage they cause until it’s too late. Termites are known for their industriousness and can always find a way into your home, whether the structure is made of wood or concrete.

Homeowners might notice termites when they swarm around spring time, a likely sign of infestation. But they can swarm in both the spring and fall, anytime the environmental conditions are right.

The U.S. is home to many species of termites, the most common being Subterranean and Drywood termites.

Subterranean Termites tunnel in the soil. The ability to tunnel allows them to find and feed on countless pieces of wood. This mobility also allows them to create much bigger colonies than those of wood inhabiting species. A Subterranean termite colony can have hundreds of thousands to several million members working in a caste system.

Drywood Termites can cause serious damage to houses and furniture. These termites are easier to spot because they produce coarse sand-like fecal pellets that can be spotted long before you discover the termites themselves. The Drywood termite not only eats the wood structure, but lives inside the wood structure. These insects will construct a virtual city within the wood, complete with connecting tunnels to get around it. They can enter the home by flying in or being carried on previously infested wood, such as furniture or construction materials.

Preventing termites is as important as exterminating them. A termite prevention program should include the following elements:

  • A professional inspection done at least once a year. The potential damage is too great to rely on “do-it-yourself” methods.
  • An ongoing preventive system including sodium borate-based materials, which can be painted, sprayed, or spread onto the wood, or injected into hollow spaces inside the walls of the home.
  • Having your pest control professional establish an “early warning system” that detects termites in the soil before they reach the home itself. Many systems establish bait stations around the perimeter of the home to detect the approach of termites while they are still several feet away.

By taking the necessary precautions, you can help prevent your home from becoming a termite’s permanent residence.



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