Termites are some of the most destructive pests there is. A termite infestation can cause structural damage to you home and cost thousands to repair. Often times homeowners have no idea they have a termite problem until it is too late which is why it is important to get a termite inspection on your home every one to three years. However there are a few tips to spot a termite problem for those of us who are not trained experts.
Swarmers or discarded wings, which are young female and male termites will emerge in the springtime often times leaving their discarded wings near windowsills and doorways. Spotting the discarded wings is one big clue that you might have termites.
Mud tubes are built by termites to provide moisture between their colony and food source and are often times found near the foundation of a home. It is important to look out for mud tubes at your homes foundation because if present they are a sign of subterranean termites which are the most destructive termite species.
Wood damage is the most common sign of termites in a home. Wood that sounds hollow when tapped on, or that looks dark or blistering is what homeowners should look for when trying to spot termites. Additionally cracked or bubbling paint in a home is another sign to look for when looking for termites in your home.
One other way to spot termites in your home is frass. Frass is the light, wood colored droppings that termites leave behind. Specifically if you find a small pile of what looks like sawdust in your home you might be dealing with termites.
If you find any of these signs of termites in your home it is important to contact a local expert before the termite infestation causes any more damage to your home.
Man may have created the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Great Wall of China, the Empire State building but termites are capable of building mounds so resilient that one is over 2,000 years old!
The termite mound was discovered in the Miombo woodland area of central Africa and measured in at 33 feet tall, complete with termite ‘air conditioning’. Experts estimate that the mound is about 2,200 years old and was in use for hundreds if not thousands of years.
The only other ancient termite mound that comes close in age is one that has been dated 750 years old. Both ancient termite mounds were built by Macrotermes falciger, a native termite to the Miombo Woods in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The mounds were analyzed using carbon 14 dating, which is also a technique used to date bones and other natural artifacts. Moreover, researchers from the Ghent University in Belgium and the University of Lubumbashi gathered in the Democratic Republic of Congo to conduct the analysis.
Quite interesting, I just hope my regular Cincinnati pest control doesn’t include carbon dating any termite mounds!
Can you prevent a termite infestation?
The termite is famous for destroying American homes. This tiny creature is single-handedly responsible for five billion dollars in property damage each year in the U.S.
Dr. Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist at the National Pest Management Association, hands out some valuable tips for banishing this destructive beast from your residence.
Termites come in two varieties: subterranean and dry wood. The latter are found from Virginia through Florida, parts of the southwest and northern pacific coast and Hawaii. The former are found everywhere.
The key in controlling termites is to keep them away from your home’s foundation.
Subterranean termites are attracted to moisture. To prevent their appearance, Dr Fredericks give several practical tips: remove standing water and investigate damp spots, keep water away from the foundation of the home, repair leaky water pipes and faucets, and eliminate moisture from attics and crawl spaces. Termites also like wood, so woodpiles should be kept away from the foundation. To prevent these bugs from getting into the home, any mulches used in the yard should be separated from the foundation by a stone barrier at least 18 inches wide. Mulches will be appealing to termites, so consider using an alternative ground cover like straw or rocks.
Websites like PestWorld.org are also a great resource for educating yourself about how these bugs operate. By knowing their habits, you can protect one of your most valuable assets: your home.
What can a homeowner do to prevent termites?
- The most common types of termites love moisture, if you have any moisture around the foundation of your home, take steps to remove the moisture and eliminate the source.
- Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
- Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation.
- Prevent shrubs, vines and other vegetation from growing over and covering vents.
- Be sure to remove old form boards, grade stakes, etc., left in place after the building was constructed. Remove old tree stumps and roots around and beneath the building. Most importantly, eliminate any wood contact with the soil. An 18-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building is ideal.
- It doesn’t hurt to routinely inspect the foundation of your home for signs of termite damage.
What should a homeowner look for when selecting a PCO?
- A qualified and licensed pest management company that is a member of national, state or local pest management associations.
- Ask friends and neighbors to recommend companies they have used successfully.
- Buy value, not price.
- Before signing a contract, be sure to fully understand the nature of the pest to be controlled, the extent of the infestation, and the work necessary to solve the problem.
- Find out if the company has liability insurance to cover any damages to your house or furnishings during treatment.
- If a guarantee is given, know what it covers, how long it lasts, what you must do to keep it in force, and what kind of continuing prevention and management are necessary.