Most termites live underground and could enter the house through bath traps, plumbing outlets, utility openings, duct work and construction joints. Over time the concrete slab beneath the house could crack or shrink away from the foundation wall, allowing termites living in the soil below to infest the wood above.
Once they enter the house, termites feed on the house’s wood structure, slowly eating away at the house, sabotaging its structural integrity and its value. No sooner the termites begin destruction distinct signs will be visible. These signs of termite damage include:
- Pencil-wide mud tubes that termites create for protection as they travel on foundation walls, support piers, sill plates or floor joists in search of food.
- Small holes in wood or wood that looks hollowed out along the grain.
- Crumbling drywall, sagging doors or floors.
- Tiny wings that swarming termites shed on or around windowsills.
- Fecal pellets near damaged wood – a sure sign of Drywood termites. The pellets are quite distinctive: hard, elongated-ovals with rounded ends, and six concave sides.
Termites become most visible when they swarm – especially if the swarm happens inside a home. Swarming occurs when termites decide to expand their territory. Hundreds to thousands of termites may abandon the nest to create new colonies.
These swarmers shed their wings when they arrive at their destination and never fly again. A telltale sign that a termite swarm happened inside a home is the appearance of hundreds of discarded wings on or around windowsills, because the termites will attempt to get outside by flying toward the light.
Swarms inside a home almost always mean infestation and a pest professional should be contacted for an inspection. Different species of termites swarm at different times during the year.
Termite Prevention Tips
Termites are amazingly adept at getting into the house. Besides calling pest control professionals to prevent termite infestation, homeowners also need to be vigilant to avoid attracting termites. Water and wood act like magnets for termites, so help prevent infestations by taking a few simple home maintenance steps:
- Trim shrubs, bushes and other dense greenery away from your home’s foundation.
- Move mulch away from the foundation.
- Don’t store firewood against your home.
- If you do keep firewood outside your house, keep it raised off the ground.
- Remove all lumber, tree stumps and other loose wood from around the perimeter of your home.
- Fix leaky pipes.
- Reduce humidity in crawl spaces by covering at least 90% of soil in the space with plastic sheeting.
- Eliminate any standing water near your home.
- Keep gutters and downspouts free of accumulated leaves and debris, which can lead to clogs and moisture that attracts termites.
- Seal all cracks and holes in your home’s foundation.
Often, one can’t see termite damage, which is why it’s important to complete some simple home maintenance steps and work with a pest control professional to schedule regular termite inspections and preventive treatments.
Three simple steps to prevent termite infestation:
Step 1: Rely on a pest control professional
Some signs of termite damage are obvious – like small holes in wood, crumbling drywall and sagging doors or floors. But even if any of these signs are not visible, termites could still be infesting the house.
Regular inspections by a licensed pest-control professional are essential to keep the house free of termites and their damaging effects. These qualified experts are trained in termite biology and behaviour, giving them the knowledge and skills to prevent, identify and treat termite problems.
A pest control professional can perform a thorough inspection of your home and determine:
- The source of the termite invasion.
- Measures to correct conditions that invite termites.
Step 2: The best defence is a good offence
If an inspection reveals that the house is currently free of termites, congratulations! But if the pest control professional discovers the wood-eating insects have taken up residence, several highly effective treatments are available to eliminate them.
Either way, the pest control professional can take measures to assure that the house stay free from termites in the future.
Preventive termite treatments like liquid barriers can protect existing structures and ensure that subterranean termites will not become a problem.
Depending on the situation, a minimally disruptive treatment along the exterior perimeter may be all your home needs.
Step 3: Schedule regular checkups with pest control professionals
If a doctor gives a clean bill of health today, that doesn’t eliminate the need for regular checkups in the future. A house is no different. Regular inspections by your pest control professional will assure any previous treatments are working to keep the house termite free.
You also can take routine home maintenance steps to help prevent termites, which focus on removing the wood and moisture near your home that can draw termites like a magnet.The Termite Institute, USA
Termite House Party?
Now, people can watch these tiny homewreckers in action and up close. Visit www.termiteinsitute.com to view thousands of hungry, wood-eating termites in real time as they consume a miniature house in a new exhibit at the Audubon Insectarium in New Orleans. The “Termite House Party” exhibit, which opened April 7 and is sponsored by BASF Termidor termiticide/insecticide, is aimed at educating people about these highly organised and determined insects.
Dogs to detect bedbugs!
Pest control companies are increasingly turning to dogs to locate bedbugs as the rate of infestation grows across New Jersey and other parts of the US. Largely dormant for the past 40 years, bedbugs have made a mysterious, but dramatic return across the country in the past decade. Scent dogs, particularly the breed of Beagle, are being used to locate bugs for their ability to sniff out the bugs, which can be difficult to find. As tiny as a single grain of rice, bedbugs hide inside furniture and bedding, which is why the sense of smell is a better weapon than sight. The average human has merely five million scent receptors in his or her nose; the average dog, 200-250 million. Canines, which have been trained to sniff out everything from illegal drugs to gypsy moths, are capable of locating bedbugs with 97% accuracy.