Termites have evolved into wood-eating machines, capable of doing severe structural damage to a home. If you don't have a pest control company do a regular termite inspection on your house, they can become a nuisance quickly. Here is what to look for and how to protect your home from these wood-eating invaders.

The Termites' Strength is in Numbers

An established colony can contain 200,000 to 2 million termites, reports the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. The majority of them are workers that are wingless and sightless. They use the sense of taste and smell to identify cellulose-rich food to bring back to the colony. Workers are on the job 24/7 searching for food.

Termites don't distinguish between items when on the hunt for food. They don't care if they've found a tasty tree stump, a pile of firewood, or your home's roof rafters. Once they've identified a food source, they settle in until it's exhausted. Anything that contains cellulose is fair game. This could mean furniture, wood paneling, drywall covering, wallpaper, and the structural framing in your house.

Spotting the Signs of a Termite Infestation

You may occasionally see individual termites out roaming, but they do most of their damage inside pieces of wood. They can nearly hollow out a board before you notice anything is wrong. This is one reason to use the services of a pest control company. They know where termites like to live and can do a thorough inspection of your house.

With a flashlight and screwdriver in hand, here is what to look for inside and outside of your house:

  • Winged termites flying outside looking for new colony sites in the fall and spring.
  • Small mud tunnels that head under a wood pile or into a rotting tree stump.
  • Cracks or blistering on wood siding or interior wood paneling.
  • Small raised areas on large pieces of wood, such as wall studs or floor joists.
  • Large wood pieces that sound hollow when hit with a screwdriver - puncture the wood with the screwdriver to determine if termites are active in the wood.

Getting Rid of the Termites

You'll need a professional exterminator to remove the termite colony and individuals that are out searching for food. The company will spray your home inside and out and may need to do repeat spraying until the colony is gone. As long as the queen termites are still alive and reproducing, the colony will sustain itself. While the pest control company is handing the existing colony, you'll need to do a few things to make sure these pests don't come back.

Protecting Your Home From Future Termite Invasions

These actions will help to keep termites from targeting your home:

  • Make sure water drains away from your foundation - don't let it pool near the house.
  • Trim trees and bushes so they don't touch the house.
  • Place stacks of firewood or building materials away from the house.
  • Cut down any dead trees and get rid of the stumps.
  • Keep any wood debris, such as tree branches, from accumulating in piles.
  • Keep a clear space between the bottom of your wood siding and the ground.

Contact a pest control specialist like Bug Busters the moment you find any termite damage. Don't let your house become a termite colony's next meal.

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