A termite is a small, wood-eating insect that secretly causes damage to wood constructed homes. According to reports from the United States Department of Agriculture, the U.S. spends approximately $5 billion each year on controlling and preventing their destructive habits.
With upwards of 600,000 U.S. homes damaged by termites annually, pest control companies have their hands full staying ahead of the tiny critters.
Alaska is the only state that doesn’t have termites so unless you plan on moving to the cold state, you need to be aware of the signs of termite damage. A small termite colony starts slow and only has about 10,000 members, but if they’re left alone long enough the colony can reach 1 million termites.
Although termite colonies eat extremely slow (about 5 pounds of wood a year), getting rid of them quickly after detection is very important. A colony that reaches the millions can damage the structure of a home at a much faster rate.
Recognizing the Presence of Termites
The majority of homeowners that have a termite problem are completely unaware of it. Termites typically don’t make a mess and structural damage happens so gradual that it really is tough to notice. In a lot of cases termites aren’t detected until walls are torn down during construction projects.
Fortunately there are some small signs that may indicate the presence of termites, including:
• Sometimes termites leave a colony to establish another colony, which results in swarming. Homeowners have to be careful to not confuse termites with ants, but their bodies are generally found near their entrance to the home.
• Termites are known to build tunnels known as mud tubes. If small, white insects are found around mud tubes it’s likely a sign of termites.
• Any indication of rotten wood should alarm homeowners for termites. It might just be water damage, but have an inspection done to assess the damage and to determine if termites are present.
The removal of termites is a job that should be left for the professionals. Have you ever noticed a home that’s covered in canvas tarps? There is a good reason for that – the poison used to kill termites is quite toxic. Homeowners must leave the home for several days until the toxins settle.
Another way to eliminate termites is to place termiticide in the soil and other areas surrounding the home. The termites will slowly die off as they collect the termicitide and bring it back to the colony. Termicitide will also keep additional termites from entering the home.
A similar but much slower method for removing termites is called baiting. Instead of injecting termiticide into areas where the termites are living, poison is left out for the termites to find on their own. Experts say this method can take more than six months.
It isn’t easy to stay proactive against termites, but you can stay on the lookout for wet wood and cracks in the home. These are inviting conditions for termites and preventing them can keep them away. If you suspect the presence of termites, once again hiring a professional is recommended. An experienced pest control technician will be able to determine the extent of the damage and the best method for removing them.