Silent Destroyers: Tips to Spot Termites and Prevent Infestation |

There are many reasons why termites have been nicknamed “silent destroyers”. Five billion reasons, in fact.

Termites cause more than $ 5 billion in property damage in the United States each year. If left unchecked, they can silently chew their way through the structural stability of a house, eating up wood, flooring, and even wallpaper. To make matters worse, the damage they leave is usually not covered by most home insurance policies.

Recognize termites

Spring is the best time for termite populations to emerge in search of new structures to invade. Termite explorers, known as hawkers, are looking for hospitable homes and are particularly drawn to buildings that have been damaged by severe winter weather or that have dead or rotting wood on the property. Once these hawkers determine that a home is a good fit, they will likely settle down and start a new colony that will grow into a full-blown termite infestation over time.

Termite or flying ant?

Many people will see swarms of termites in their homes in the spring and mistake them for flying ants. This can be a costly mistake. Winged termites have a straight waist, straight antennae, and their wings are the same size. Flying ants, on the other hand, have wedges pinched in the middle, curved antennae, and two sets of wings, with the top set being larger than the bottom. Termites are also most likely to swarm in spring, while flying ants can swarm at different times of the year.

It is not always possible for the untrained eye to spot signs of termites, but homeowners should be on the lookout for some important signs that can help them spot termite infestation.

Other signs of infestation

Mud pipes – Subterranean termites, the most destructive species of termites, build mud tubes to provide moisture as they travel between their colony and their food source. Mud pipes are most often found near the foundation of the house.

Wood damage – Termites tend to eat wood inside out, so wood that sounds hollow when knocked often indicates a termite infestation. Homeowners should also look for blistered pieces of wood.

Eat – Drywood termites produce wood-colored droppings when they eat their way through infected wood. If a homeowner finds a small pile of pellets inside or outside the home, it could be a sign of drywood termite infestation.

It’s a good rule of thumb to have your home checked for termites every two to three years, and every year if you live in the south or warmer climates. If termites are suspected, a pest exterminator is needed to eliminate the problem.

The 10 best tips for preventing termites

The good news is that homeowners have many options to protect themselves from termites while protecting their biggest investment – their home. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) offers this termite counseling:

  • Eliminate or reduce the moisture in and around the home that termites need to thrive.
  • Repair leaky faucets, plumbing, and external air conditioners.
  • Repair panels, soffits, and rotten roof shingles.
  • Replace sealing strips and loose mortar around basement foundation and windows.
  • Route the water away from the home through properly functioning downspouts, gutters, and splash blocks.
  • Periodically inspect the foundation of a house for signs of mud pipes (used by termites to reach a source of food) and wood that sounds hollow when knocked.
  • Monitor all wood exteriors, including windows, door frames, and baseboards, for noticeable changes. Remove dead trees and replace rotting wood.
  • Maintain a gap of 18 inches between soil or mulch and any wooden parts of your home.
  • Consider scheduling a professional inspection annually. Damage caused by wood-boring insects is not covered by the household contents insurance.
  • Store firewood at least 20 meters from the house.

Do-it-yourself measures cannot be used to control termites. If you suspect a termite infestation, contact a licensed pest controller immediately to determine the extent of the problem and get a recommendation for appropriate treatment. To find a local, qualified pest controller, visit

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