Termites can destroy a home from the inside out, but there are ways homeowners can protect themselves, with early awareness and prevention being chief among them. With the exception of Alaska, termites of one variety or another are found in every state in the continental U.S., leaving most homes susceptible to infestation. Unfortunately most people don’t discover the problem until significant damage has been done. In fact, each year the U.S. spends more than $2 billion on termite control, according to research by the University of Florida. Because it has become so costly to combat these pests, significant research has been conducted to identify effective methods of prevention and extermination. Most prevention steps are relatively simple, and focus on stopping the initial infestation before expensive and dangerous control measures like extermination are required.
The single most important step to termite control is eliminating any source of water leakage or moisture in or around the home. This is particularly true if the water is near a termite food source, such as firewood, tree stumps, or even stacks of old newspapers. While it may seem odd to remove water first, different termites prefer different types of food, but they are all attracted to sources of moisture. By eliminating that one element, every species of termite will be less likely to consider your home or the surrounding areas for a meal.
If your home is in a risk area, any exposed wood areas should be checked at least once per year for damage, as well as any decks, sheds, or wooden lawn furniture. In the event this is something you are uncomfortable doing or not capable of, most pest control companies are willing to send a technician free of charge to check for signs of infestation. One of the most clear warning signs that any homeowner should not ignore is the presence of winged termites around the house or trapped in windows – especially in the early and late spring months. This indicates the strong possibility of a new or existing infestation, requiring immediate preventative measures.
Even with regular inspection, homeowners should still be vigilant. The species known as Formosan termites live underground in colonies that number in the millions. They are the most destructive type of termite, and range up to 300 feet or more in search of food. Because they build vast networks of underground tunnels, these termites can eat their way into a house from the bottom up without ever being noticed.
Often, years will pass before the damage is significant enough to cause collapse or other visible signs to a homeowner. This is why vigilance is key to preventing termite infestation. In the event warning signs are spotted, there are home extermination kits that can be purchased and used without the need of a professional, but the risk remains that these methods will not fully eliminate the threat. This can necessitate more costly extermination steps at a later date, and may result in more extensive termite damage to your home.
For this reason the services of a professional are generally recommended. While termites can pose a serious problem, early prevention and early detection can protect your home. Being aware of the risks and warning signs in advance will help eliminate the need for costly home repairs and extermination.