It’s the kickoff of Termite Awareness Week, seven days dedicated to everything termite, from prevention tips to signs of an infestation. This annual event was created by the National Pest Management Association to educate homeowners about these little destructive wood-eaters. Catseye Pest Control’s tips will help you protect your home and property from termites.
What Are Termites?
Termites are small, pale-colored insects with soft bodies. They live in colonies that can have anywhere from several hundred to many thousands of individuals. Subterranean Termites and Drywood Termites are the usual suspects that infest homes. These insects are constantly chewing wood. As they munch along the wood grain, termites ingest the cellulose and deposit everything else in little fecal pellets. Termites are common structural pests that cause billions of dollars in property damage every year.
A drywood termite colony discovered at a client's home.
How Should I Check My Home for Termites?
Spring is almost here and soon it will be time to open the windows, clear out the dust bunnies and get rid of unwanted junk. Spring-cleaning isn’t the only thing you should be doing right now; you should also be checking your home for signs of termites. These pests like two things, moisture and wood. Look for areas with excess moisture in your home that may have been damaged by leaky pipes, air conditioning units and places where water is not properly draining away from the house’s foundation. Also check cracks in the foundation and woodpiles stacked near your home.
Signs of an Infestation
Look for these key signs of a termite infestation:
- Swarms of winged termites clustered around window or door frames (the most obvious sign of a termite infestation)
- Small piles of fecal pellets (looks like sawdust)
- Piles of shed wings
- Tiny holes in the wood used by termites to get rid of fecal pellets with small piles of the sawdust-like fecal pellets below
- “Blisters” on the wood’s surface created by termite tunnels built close to the surface of the wood
- Mud-like tubes made of glued fecal pellets that allow the termites to get from one piece of wood to another
- Damaged wood or imperfections on sheetrock
Termite damage found in a client's home.
Keeping termites out of your home begins with maintaining the exterior of your house. Remove wet or rotted wood near the house and trim back shrubs and bushes that have grown too close to the foundation. Avoid having areas with excess moisture by fixing leaky water hoses and poorly grated landscaping. Store firewood away from the home. Seal cracks and crevices in your foundation with silicone. Create an 18-inch wide border of stones or gravel, beginning at the base of the foundation, to separate landscaping from the house and help prevent these pests from getting inside. All of these practices will help eliminate shelter for termites.
Even if you follow all these best practices, termites can still be hard to detect. If you think you have termites, or if you simply want reassurance that you don’t, contact a local pest management professional to inspect your home.