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Termites in House: Warning Signs and Prevention
A termite infestation is a nightmare for any property owner. But there are warning signs and precautions you can take to avoid an infestation.
Termites are white, soft-bodied insects which may seem harmless due to their tiny size. But the truth of the matter is they cause a massive amount of damage because of their wood-eating nature. They cause up to $5 billion worth of damages per year in the U.S alone. This staggering figure alone should make you take termites very seriously.
A major problem with termites is that it’s not easy to spot them because they live in dark, damp, and warm areas of the house. By the time you notice them they’ve already damaged the wooden structure of your house.
Therefore, instead of waiting to find termites crawling around in the open, be vigilant about the signs of a termite infestation. This will save you a large amount of structural loss in the long run.
Here are some of the warning signs you should be aware of to protect your house from these pests.
• Warning Signs of a Termite Infestation •
- Shelter Tubes
These are brown clay-like tubes which can be seen on walls near structures infested with termites. The tubes provide them with the dark and humid conditions essential for their survival, and protection from predators. Also, these tubes provide them with pathways to forage for food. The size of the tubes indicates the level of infestation.
If the shelter tube is around 10mm wide assume that the infestation is still at an early stage. Whereas larger tubes up to 50mm wide indicate a severe infestation and immense structural damage.
- Subterranean Tunnels
Subterranean termites live underground in the soil, and you might find them swarming in your garden. But it is difficult to spot them because they build underground tunnels for transporting and foraging food. These tunnels are deep down in the soil as deep as 20cm, while their radius can reach up to 50 meters.
- Earthen packing
This is a mud-like substance produced by species of termites working on wood such as subterranean and drywood termites. It can mostly be seen near foundation walls and joints.
- Blowholes in Trees
Termite colonies living in tree roots and trunks sometimes cut a slit on the tree trunk. They use this to escape when they are attacked by a predator. In response to the slits, trees produce callus, then worker termites seal these holes after finishing the fight with predators. These slit marks and sealed holes can be seen on tree trunks.
- Hollow Sounding Wood
Termites consume wood from the inside weakening the wooden structure and making it difficult to notice any damage. However, when a structure damaged by termites is tapped, it produces a hollow sound.
Tap the walls and walk around on wooden floors to see if there’s a hollowness. This a sure-fire way to find termites in the house. Squeaky floors or floors that are sagging can also be signs of infestation. If you suspect an infestation, tap on the floor.
- Presence of Wings
Swarmers are reproductive termites which take flight in search of a mate, and to establish new colonies. They shed their wings after mating, so look out for their discarded wings in your home. Especially in the Spring season, you are very likely to find them.
- Termite Droppings
Termite droppings are tiny pellets which look like black dot marks and are a dark powder-like substance. You’ll spot these droppings near a wooden structure that termites have infected.
Considering the amount of damage termites can cause, it’s better to take preventative measures to make your house unfavorable for these wood eaters. Here are some easy yet effective steps you can take to keep termites away from your home.
• How to Prevent a Termite Infestation •
- Eliminate Moisture
Moisture is the lifeline of termites, so to help keep thirsty termites away from your home you have to eradicate moisture as much as possible. Take care of drainage, fix any water leakage, and get rid of stagnant water.
It’s recommended to use a dehumidifier if you live in a damp climate to eliminate the moisture termites crave.
- Build a Barrier
A waterproof barrier around a house’s foundation works effectively to keep termites away. Foundations in modern homes are usually covered with waterproof sheeting to protect it from water seepage. Consequentially this will keep termites away from your home.
This sort of barrier can be built around an old home’s foundation. Even though this may be expensive, this one-time investment will preserve your home from future damages.
- Cut Down on Wood
This one should be fairly obvious. After all, termites are wood-eaters, so there is no secret they invade your house in search of wood to munch on. Try to cut down on wood in your home by replacing your wooden furniture with other materials like metal or plastic if you’re trying to keep termites away.
- Treat Your Wood
Of course, you can’t eliminate all wood from your home. Instead, you can properly treat the wooden structures in your home to protect them from termites.
There are a large variety of termite repellent sprays available on the market. Simply spray them on the wooden surface, and it will not only kill the existing termites but will also thwart future infestations.
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