Home Pest Control: Do You Have Termites?

What are termites and the signs of an infestation? How can you prevent these silent pests?

What are termites and what are the signs of an infestation?

The word termite is Latin for wood worm. A fitting name, as wood is a termite's favorite meal. Termites are most closely related to cockroaches. In fact, they have their own insect order: Isoptera. Most termites are whitish to clear in color. You can see their food inside their stomachs. They have six short legs and a soft body and no eyes. Their antennae are similar to a string of pearls. Most termites look this way and are workers. The other version is winged with four equal shaped wings that are twice the length of their body. Winged termites are darker in color and also have eyes. The winged versions are the reproducers of the colony or nest.

Termites are cellulose feeders. Cellulose is found in wood and wood products. This is why your home can be attacked. They have sharp teeth that can bite off tiny piece of wood a little at a time.

There are some clear signs that your home is being infested. You can find this by prying back the wood with a screw driver. You should start in the basement, if applicable. There will be mud tubes in odd patterns attached to the wood. You may also find the actual termite within the wood as well. You can see flying winged males and females and evidence of shed wings in your home. You may see mud tunnels running from the ground to your foundation. You can check this under your house in the crawl space.

What can you do if you find termites?

You should definitely keep your cool. Termites cannot damage your house simply overnight. It can take anywhere from three to eight years to see significant damages. This is a problem you really should not try to take care of""unless you are a professional. Should you call a professional; which is definitely recommended, you should get at least two quotes and get them in writing. This way you will know what chemicals are being used and how and where they will be applied. You will also have your guarantee in writing.

How can I prevent termites?

If possible keep wood out of contact with the ground. Embed stairs in concrete, instead of straight into the ground. Wood siding, window frames, and door frames should be at least six inches from the ground.

Make sure you have no leaks under or around your home. Moisture attracts termites. The ground around your foundation should be sloped to let water run away from your home. Install gutters and drainage systems and keep them clean, so you will have no standing water near your foundation.

Keep the area around your vented crawl spaces clear of leaves and other debris. Make sure that your crawl space is properly vented, since termites also like humidity.

Remove old tree stumps and roots from under the structure. Never stack firewood or any other wood materials against your home.

You can always have your home treated by a professional to prevent termites. You may even be entitled to a discount if you maintain a contract with an agent and renew it yearly.

Termites can work silently. You must do frequent checks for signs that your home may be infested. Just because you are not infested now, does not mean that you are immune. If you do suspect termites, contact a professional immediately. Make sure that you shop around and get written quotes. Don't let anyone pressure you into signing a contract. You want the work to be guaranteed and to be effective. Termites work slowly. Remember that they cannot destroy your home overnight.

If you do not do frequent checks on your home and you do get an infestation""do not let it get out of hand. If you know you have termites""do something about it. It will only get worse with time. Your home can suffer extensive damages and it is much cheaper to prevent the termites than to repair their damage.

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