Although a nightmare for homeowners, termites are one of the most useful and beneficial of insects. In the wild they consume and breakdown tough cellulose plant fiber materials and are extreme decomposers. They basically recycle dead trees into new soil. It just happens that the material we like best to build with, is the thing they like best to eat. It’s likely the termite’s love affair with wood in your home is more passionate and certainly more instinctive than yours. After all they need it to survive. And termites are nothing if not great survivors. They have been around for over 100 million years, so they know what they are doing. Also, there are a lot of them. In fact, there are so many that (unless you live in the coldest reaches of the US) if you own a home, you likely have a few hundred of these around somewhere. Termites are active year-round and are super energized and mate when the weather turns warmer. You may actually see swarms of them flying around during the spring season or right after a rain shower.
- Subterranean termites can really devour wood. They build their colonies underground and require moist soil to survive. They can build protective tubes to travel from food source to nest.
- Drywood termites actually live in wood above ground and can survive quite well without soil contact. As they feed, they fastidiously push dry poop pellets out tiny holes in the wood wherever they are living.
- Subterranean and drywood termites are different species that have different biology and behavioral patterns and require different treatment options.
Signs to look for that can indicate termites may be present.
- Travel tubes on surfaces of foundations or walls made from dirt and usually about the size of a straw.
- Hollow or damaged wood, or blister-like bumps in your wood floors.
- Small sand-like tan pellets or insect wings left behind on your windowsill or near outside light fixtures.
Active infestations should be treated. Inspections and treatment are required prior to any property sale. Discouraging termites is the best way to reduce damage to your house:
- Inspect for and correct any areas around your home where wood and soil come in contact. Remove all lumber, firewood, plants, mulch, paper and cardboard from against any part of the home or around the foundation.
- Inspect for and repair any leaks or drainage problems that may be creating moist soil either outside or under your home.
- Properly seal and block cracks around your foundation as these are used by termites and other insects as entry points.