How Termites Get Into Your Home
In their search for food (wood/cellulose) and moisture, subterranean termites will squeeze through cracks as narrow as 1/32 of an inch to enter your home! Expansion joints, foundation cracks, tiny gaps around plumbing, and service entries are all potential entry points. And once they’re in, undetected termites can mean untold damage.
Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites do not require contact with the soil in order to live. Consequently, they can enter your home on any floor or through your attic, rather than through cracks and gaps near your home’s foundation.
Termite Prevention Tips
When it comes to gaining access to your home, termites are amazingly proficient. The last thing you want to do is make their job easier. Follow these 3 steps to effective termite prevention and make sure that your home doesn't become their home.
Small holes in wood, crumbling drywall, sagging doors or floors, insect wings and small shelter tubes are some of the more obvious signs of a potential infestation of termites. But even if you don't notice any of these signs, that doesn't necessarily mean termites, or the conditions that invite them, aren't there.
Regular inspections by a licensed pest management professional are the best way to help ensure your home truly is, and remains, free from termites and the damage they cause. Qualified pest management professionals have the training in termite biology and behavior to identify, prevent and treat termite infestations. A Certified Professional will perform a thorough inspection of your home to determine if, where, and how termites are getting in. They can also explain how to correct any conditions in your home that invite termites.
- Don't affix wooden trellises to exterior walls.
- Keep mulch, wood debris, scrap lumber, sawdust and firewood away from your home. If you do keep firewood outside your house during the winter, keep it raised and off the ground.
- Don't stack, store or bury wood debris adjacent to your home.
- Trim all shrubs, bushes and other dense greenery away from the foundation of your home. Move mulch away from the foundation as well.
- Remove infested trees and stumps.
- Repair leaking faucets and water lines, both indoors and outdoors.
- Fix leaky roofs and gutters.
- Don't allow leaves to accumulate in gutters and drains.
- Grade soil so that water (including air-conditioning condensation) runs away from foundations.
- Ventilate crawl spaces and attics to reduce humidity.
- Remove all wood to soil contact.
- Cover at least 90% of the soil in crawl spaces with plastic sheeting.
- Ideally, wood siding, stucco and foam board should be at least six inches away from the ground.
- Seal all cracks and holes in your home's foundation, which may provide a handy access point for termites.
Fascinating Termite Facts
Your home is no place for termites, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a place and purpose in our environment. Termites have been an important part of the earth’s ecological system for many millions of years. They infest dead and dying trees and speed up the natural cycle of deterioration—allowing for new growth to begin. In many ways, they are among nature’s most fascinating and socially complex creatures. Here are some facts you probably would have never imagined about termites:
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em
In Singapore, two-inch long termite queens are considered a yummy food treat. They are served live, dipped in alcohol, or preserved in rice wine. “Would you care for a glass of snail slime with your termite, sir?”
It is estimated that for every human on Earth there may be 1,000 pounds of termites. That’s about the same weight as a full-grown cow!
Making a Mountain Out of a Termite Hill
Termites make hard mounds above ground in many parts of the world. In Africa, one mound was actually measured to be 42 feet high. That’s about as tall as a two-story house!
Leaning Tower of Termites
In some parts of the United States, termites build freestanding mud tubes in order to get to wood. One documented tube in a home was 12 feet long from floor to ceiling. It actually swayed with the light breeze from the home’s air conditioning.
Beware the Grim Termite
In one culture in the Amazon, people believe that a termite colony found in a home means the home’s owner will soon die. The only way to escape death is to eliminate the termite colony or abandon the home.
Big Momma’s Family
The queen of a species of African termite may eventually grow to five inches long, and lay up to 30,000 eggs a day. Chickens usually lay between 180-320 eggs each year!
Never to Bed, Never to Rise
Termites work 24 hours per day and never sleep. And you thought your work day was long!
Respect Your Elders
While the earliest human beings have been around for about four and a half million years, and dinosaurs existed no more than 230 million years ago, termites are believed to have appeared on Earth more than 250 million years ago.
One Hungry Bug
A typical colony of a particularly aggressive termite species called Formosans could search an area about the size of a football field and damage the wood.
There Goes the Neighborhood
A typical home with termites may have three to four termite colonies around it, with as many as one million termites in each colony. That’s more than the number of people in most cities.
Children of the Night
Like bats and opossums, termites tend to stay away from light.
Nothing to Sneeze At
In the Amazon, some cultures rely on a hot, sugar-sweetened soup of boiled termites to get rid of whooping cough.
A Looong Way to Go for Carryout
Worker termites search for food up to 250 feet from their colony. That would be like you walking around four and a half miles to pick up lunch.
Now Available in 49 States!
Subterranean (underground) termites are found in every state except Alaska.
When in Drought, Try Termites
When there is not enough food from their crops and gardens, Macu Indians use termites for food.
Hungry, Hungry Termites
One colony of Formosan termites can eat 1,000 pounds of wood each year. That’s like eating around 650 little league baseball bats.
Termite queens are believed to live 15-25 years and can lay an egg every 15 seconds. That’s almost half as often as you blink!
A Very Varied Bug
There are over 40 species of termites in the United States, and over 2,700 species throughout the world.
Slipping Through the Cracks
Some termites can get into your house through cracks about as thick as a penny.
Although they look kind of like ants, termites are more closely related to roaches. Because of their complex jobs and roles they are sometimes called “social cockroaches.”
Micro Methane Machines
Scientists say termites may release over 150 million tons of air-pollution-causing methane gas into the atmosphere every year.
Indi-GES-tion? Try Protozoa.
Ironically, for a creature that lives to eat, termites can’t digest their own food. Microscopic bacteria and protozoa in their guts do that job for them.
A Seven-Truck Family
Some African and Australian termite colonies may contain enough termites to fill seven large pickup trucks.
Who Needs Flu Shots?
Some cultures in the Amazon believe inhaling the smoke from a burning termite nest can cure the flu.