Termites eat wood, and most houses are made at least partially from wood. This, of course, means that houses and termites shouldn’t mix. Sure, try telling them that.
Each year, in the U.S. alone, hundreds of thousands of houses are treated for termite infestations. In thousands more, termites go undetected. Could you be at risk?
These insects thrive in warm areas, but they can survive in more temperate climates as well. This includes the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast parts of the country. In fact, the only state free of termites is Alaska. And don’t think they’re not problems in other countries. Termites are a concern in Europe and other parts of the world as well. They can wreck havoc under your house, such as in the foundation, or above ground too.
There are two categories of termites: subterranean termites and drywood termites. Subterranean termites live under ground while their drywood counterparts are perfectly happy living above ground. Because they often nest in wood (such as is found in the walls of your house) and don’t need ground contact, they can be difficult to find and exterminate.
But that’s enough of the insect lesson. Let’s get to the important stuff:
How do you tell if you have termites?
Sometimes it’s obvious if you have termites. However, it’s not always apparent you have a problem until they’ve already done a lot of damage. But if you know what you’re looking for, you can identify them early on. It’s much better if you can catch infestations early and eliminate them before permanent damage is done to your house.
This can be easier said than done. If there aren’t any gaping holes in your walls, how are you supposed to know? You’ll want to check for the following signs:
–Are there wings scattered on the floor? This doesn’t necessarily mean termites (flying ants can also leave wings), but it could. During reproductive swarms queens and their colonies fly out and mate before returning to their nests in the wood to lay their eggs. (I know… talk about yuck!)
–Are there any dark or blistered spots in your wood floors that can be scratched easily with a kitchen knife? This is generally a sign of subterranean termites.
–If you suspect underground termites, try knocking on those wood floors. If you hear an answering tapping, it is the sound of the termite soldiers banging their heads on the wood to alert others of potential danger.
–Are there any oval, six-sided pellets on the ground near kick out holes? These little pellets are termite excrement and are indicators of drywood termites cleaning out their tunnels.
Any of these signs can mean you have a termite problem. If you think it’s even a remote possibility, call in a professional for an inspection. This definitely isn’t the kind of thing where you want to wait until you know for sure. The longer termites are in your house, the more damage they will do. The sooner you get them taken care of, the less money you’ll have to spend on this annoying problem in the long run.
Remember, termites can do significant structural damage to a house. Do yourself and your family a favor, and address this problem immediately.
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