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Termites

In most parts of the United States, subterranean termites living in large colonies are the most common type of termites that infest buildings. These insects live in the soil, where they construct elaborate networks of nests and tunnels which can stretch for hundreds of feet to reach the food and water necessary to keep them alive. When these insects attack wood that is part of the foundation of the structure, they can follow the framework of the building to the upper levels, eating their way through the wood and causing severe damage. Homeowners may not know that their property is at risk until much damage has been done.

If you want to protect your home from termites, consider the following:

  • Important preventive measures include keeping the ground around the foundation of the house clean and dry. Avoid the use of wood mulch around the foundation, and never store firewood, lumber or paper next to the house or in a crawl space. Make sure there are no permanent patches of wet soil near the house.
  • The first signs of termite infestation are usually a “swarming” of termites in the spring, as some of the insects leave their nest to form a new colony. Finding shed termite wings on window sills or other surfaces is evidence that a swarm has occurred. Another sign is the presence of mud tubes on boards and beams. If you discover either of these signs, you will need to take immediate measures to control the termites.
  • Most homeowners do not have the experience or equipment to eliminate termites on their own. It is usually necessary to hire a licensed, certified pest management firm. These businesses will apply a toxic chemical to the soil so that a continuous barrier is formed next to and under the foundation of the building.
  • Other treatments for termites exist, but they are often not nearly as effective as chemical barriers. Termites may simply tunnel around areas that have been “spot” treated with toxic products, while biological control agents such as nematodes or funguses have not proven effective in the long term. Termite baits are slow acting and require proper monitoring and maintenance.

When hiring a termite management service, it is important to select a reputable company. Prices for inspection and treatments can vary considerably. Be sure to read all warranties carefully.

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