Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.
What Are Termites?
Termites are small, pale, cellulose-eating insects that live in large social groups. Cellulose is an important component of plant cell walls. You might think that termites, owing to their shape, size, and colonies, are closely related to ants. Alas, they are more closely related to another pest - cockroaches. And just like no one wants cockroaches in their home, you don't want termites in your home either. They can seriously damage it!
In this lesson, we will go over some of the signs you might want to look out for when assessing for a termite infestation, the damage an infestation may cause, and some of the things you can do to prevent one.
Signs of a Termite Infestation
There are numerous signs to look out for when assessing if you might have termites in your home. These signs include:
- Holes the size of nail holes, drilled into the wood around your home.
- Termite droppings, which are sometimes called frass. They look like pellets or sawdust. These may be found in piles around a hole the termites have created.
- Mud (shelter) tubes. These are external tunnels termites make out of dirt. In other words, you can see these tunnels, roughly the width of a pen cartridge but sometimes wider, that are built around ceilings, floors, bases of stairs, and so on.
- Cracked wood that is also hollow inside. Fissures can appear in wood for plenty of other reasons, but if the wood is also hollow on top of that, then this can be a sign that termites have hollowed it out from the inside.
- Noise. Yep, if your home's termite infestation is bad enough, you might hear termites audibly tapping on the home's wood as a way to signal other members of the colony.
- Wings. If you see lots of discarded insect wings or swarms of flying insects at home, these might be signs of reproductive termites in your home.
- Smell. Sometimes, termite infestations result in a moldy or mildew smell.
If you don't spot these termites soon enough at home, the amount of damage they can wreak on your home is significant. This damage includes:
- The destruction of furniture and cabinets. For instance, termite mazes may be carved into them.
- The sagging/buckling of floors. Floors may appear to be suffering from water damage, and may even look and feel spongy.
- Swollen ceilings. Again, it might look like water damage at first, but it could actually be termite damage.
- Windows or doors that no longer properly open and close. This could happen when termites tunnel through frames. This damage results in misshapen frames and, as a result, improperly functioning doors and windows that can stick or jam.
- Cracks in everything from walls to beams to decks to ceilings.
- Loose tiles and hardwood floor slats.
- The bubbling of paint and the blistering of laminate floors.
- Crumbling wood structures and support.
Preventing Termite Infestations
Since all of this can take a lot of money to repair and/or replace, it's important that termite infestations are prevented in the first place! What can you do to save yourself a giant headache? To prevent termite infestations, consider the following.
First, you can always consider hiring a professional. See if you can find a qualified expert near you to perform an annual inspection in order to catch the early warning signs of a future infestation before it's too late.
You can also try and minimize the access points termites might use to get into your home. For example, termites may enter through broken roof tiles. If you've got a roof that needs to be repaired, consider doing so quickly - to prevent leaks and a termite infestation.
You'll also want to minimize cellulose, a termite's source of food. So, if you're storing something in the attic or crawl space, don't use boxes made of cardboard or wood storage containers. Instead, use plastic. When it comes to selecting furniture, you may also want to consider metal-framed furniture as well.
Moreover, consider researching which types of termites are most likely to be found in your neighborhood. Then, once you've identified them, find out when they swarm, or fly out to look for a new home. You don't want termites flying into your home at this time, so keep your windows and doors tightly closed during swarming season.
Termites, if they do choose your home as their own, will look for damp areas. So ensure you don't have any at home. Fix those leaky pipes and roof, and keep the air conditioner's moisture release away from your home's foundations.
On that note, many homeowners use wood-chip mulch as a way to keep moisture in their garden soil. This is a double whammy. First, it's moist, and termites love that. Second, it's wood, which is an awesome source of food for termites. If you're going to use mulch, then either switch to something like gravel or move the mulch as far away from your foundation as possible.
Termites are small insects that love to eat cellulose, an important component of plant cell walls.
Signs of termites in your home include:
- Nail-sized holes
- Mud tubes
- Insect wings
- Tapping noises
- Cracks in the wood
The damage the termites can cause includes:
- Sagging floors
- The jamming of windows and doors
- Swollen ceiling
- Loose tiles
- Destroyed furniture
Prevention techniques include:
- Minimizing or removing sources of food, like wood furniture or cardboard boxes used for storage.
- Keeping the home dry. For instance, fixing leaky pipes.
- Securing access points, such as loose roof tiling.
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