If you live in an area where termites are highly active, you need to be aware of how termites behave and what could attract termites to your house. Preventing infestations is just as important as catching infestations early when they do happen.
With just a few preventative measures and with the knowledge of how infestations start, you will be further ahead in avoiding the colossal structural damage that termites can cause.
How Does a Termite Infestation Begin?
Most termites live in underground colonies. They do not see where your home is or make a direct course for your home if their underground colony is close by. Termites are also not like bed bugs or lice — they don’t hitch rides into homes on furniture, clothing, or with unfortunate house guests.
So, how do termites find their way in?
A series of underground tunnels branch away from the bulk of the colony. The termites travel extensively underground as they forage for food. Some scientists believe that the foraging area of a colony can extend up to the size of a football field.
Their main source of food is wood, and they break down dead or dying trees and other cellulose-based plant matter. By happenstance, they come into contact with the foundations of homes in the area.
If there is any wood to ground contact near the foundation, termites naturally move from their subterranean tunnels and into the wood, enjoying the constant source of food the wood provides. Cracks, holes, or gaps in the foundation allow a termite to enter the home, giving them access to any wood in your home.
Less commonly, subterranean termites might land on your home during swarming periods.
What Makes Your Home More Attractive to Termites?
There are several features of a home that can increase the risk of termite infestation, and you should work to eliminate these risk factors.
Moisture is arguably one of the most significant risk factors for termite infestations. Termites need moisture to survive, so when they tunnel and find a wet foundation that leads to a damp basement, they have all they need to continue until they find delicious wood for munching.
If your basement is wet, take steps to improve the waterproofing. Other areas of your house are also at risk. For example, if your house has a flat roof that does not drain properly, that standing water makes your house a good resting and subsequent nesting place for swarming winged termites with new queens.
If your basement is wet enough, termites won’t even need to return to the ground to get the moisture they need, allowing them to destroy your house that much faster.
Outdoor Wood Features
Termites travel through the ground and often close to the surface in search of viable wood food sources. If they don’t enter the house through a crack in a moist foundation, they might do so through wood that sins into the ground. Common outdoor wood features that allow termites to enter your house include:
- Wooden thresholds with zero-entry designs.
- Fence posts that are sunk directly into the ground without concrete setting.
- Decks or patios made from wood that touches the ground.
Check around the exterior of your for any direct wood contact with the ground. If this wood is connected to your house or even close to your house (termites can scale gaps with mud tubes), you are giving termites an invitation to enter.
Mulch and Dry Wood
Wood structures aren’t the only food for termites. People usually associate termites with structural damages, but don’t forget that termites exist in nature to help break down dead and dying wood to return the nutrients to the soil for future plant life.
So, when you create a landscape for your home, don’t accidentally put in features that give termites access to your foundation. For example, some people plant flowerbeds with mulch that abuts the side of the home. Mulch is a ready food for termites. Instead, use rocks for any shrub or flower areas that are close to the home.
Similarly, don’t leave stacks of firewood against the side of your home or other structures like wooden fencing or a shed.
Proper tree care is another preventative method for termite infestations. If you have any dead or dying trees on your property, have them removed promptly to keep any subterranean colonies from moving closer to your home. If you have any trees with active infestations, have the tree removed and make sure your house is properly pre-treated to keep termites from moving in.
Improper Building Practices
Finally, improper building practices can make your house attractive to termites. For example, the wood used as forms when pouring a concrete foundation should be removed. If left behind, the wood absorbs moisture and becomes prime food for termites. Not securing deck posts in concrete pilings also makes your home an easy target.
The best way to keep your home safe from termites, especially if you know that termites are active in your neighborhood, is to have a pest control company like Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management inspect and install barrier methods and baits. Call us if you have any questions about termites in your home.