Just the thought of termites is sure to cause you to shudder. The facts will floor you. The damage that these insects can cause is more than the cost of storms, fire, and floods combined. Termites ravage over 600,000 homes each year. Complicating the problem is that it’s hard to detect them since they stay out of sight. It can take them several years to build a colony large enough to affect your house.
Fortunately, several things can get a pest problem under control. But be prepared for a fight. They are tenacious insects that have lived on this planet for millions of years. Professionals have documented their presence in every state in the country, barring Alaska. Colonies can contain millions of individuals.
The Key to Getting Rid of Termites
The key to getting rid of termites or any pest, for that matter, is prevention. All organisms need three things to survive: water, food, and shelter. Halting their access to any of these things will go a long way toward averting a problem. Bear in mind that termites are opportunistic and will take advantage of any resources they can find.
Signs of a Termite Problem
It’s imperative to know your enemy with the correct identification. Often, homeowners think they have an ant infestation because the two insects look similar. Termites have straight antennae versus the bent ones that ants have. Telltale signs of termites include:
- Tubes or tunnels
- Squeaky floorboards
- Peeling paint
- Shed wings or droppings
- Pinholes in the drywall
- Sounds of their activity
To get rid of termites, you must tackle the problem both inside and outside of your home. The goal is to make your house as inhospitable as possible to these pests.
Indoor Pest Prevention
Termites are attracted to water. Therefore, the best way to expel them from your home is to prevent moisture from accumulating anywhere where they can access it. That means repairing any leaks, whether it’s a sink, garbage disposal, or toilet.
Remember that these insects are survivors. They’ll look for water in the most unlikely places, such as pet water bowls, houseplant trays, or air conditioner condensation lines. You should also check your basement for leaks. You may find it helpful to paint the walls with waterproof paint to seal porous surfaces.
Eliminating Food Sources
The next thing is to get rid of any food that may attract termites. We suggest picking up the pet food bowls in between meals. You should also keep the feeding area clean. These pests feed primarily on cellulose. That makes cardboard, newspapers, paper products, and firewood all fair game for them. If you must store these items, put them in pest-proof plastic containers.
Sealing Off Your House
You must also seal any cracks or holes in your foundation to keep the pests at bay. Do a thorough check of your home, including crawlspaces. Inspect any door or window screens for damage. We recommend checking any pass-through locations for utilities and seal around any openings with caulk or steel wool—or both! Remember that no hole is too small for termites to enter your home.
Outdoor Pest Control
Your next line of defense is the area immediately around your house. Termites and other pests are more likely to get inside your home if there is cover giving them safe passage. It’s imperative to maintain as little soil-to-wood contact as possible. That means raking back mulch from the foundation and getting rid of any wood or lumber products near it, too.
The same precaution applies to any plants or landscaping you have around your home. Trim any branches or shrubs that are close to the foundation. You might consider treating at least the bottom portion with a termite-proof stain or paint if you have wood siding. We recommend keeping your lawn mowed regularly, too. Tall grass can provide shelter for termites looking for food or shelter.
If you’re planning on adding any trees to your yard, it’s helpful to consider species that termites find unpalatable or even harmful to these pests. Ones to avoid include Southern Yellow Pine, Birch, or Red Oak. If a deck is in your future, consider pressure-treated lumber, cedar, or redwood. Composite products are another excellent choice that termites will avoid damaging.
Removing Water Sources
It’s essential to limit water access outside, too. You can start by repairing any leaky spigots. Inspect your downspouts and gutters to ensure rainwater is directed away from the house. If there are areas where the water pools when it rains, look into options for grading or eliminating these trouble spots. Research has shown that termites are typically more active after storms, especially if it’s hot and humid.
Look for the unlikely things during the survey of your yard, such as pet water dishes, birdbaths, or even trash cans. Any place where water can accumulate is laying out the welcome mat for termites.
Setting Up Barriers
You should also inspect the outside of your house for any cracks or holes in the foundation or any ingress. Other options include putting insect screens over any vents. That can also prevent a rodent problem. We suggest shoring up any pass-through locations for utilities from the outside, too. You can also install metal barriers over any exposed wood.
Other measures you can take are removing any brush or firewood piles that are close to your house. They can provide an ideal hiding place for many other pests that are equally as troublesome. After all, the more obstacles you can put between your home and the termites, the better.
Termites aren’t just annoying. They can cause significant damage to your home before you’re even aware that there is a problem. If you opt to use pesticides, make sure to get a product that is formulated for these pests. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter.
That brings us to our last piece of advice about preventing pest issues. We strongly urge you to get your house inspected annually by a professional service. As we discussed in the beginning, prevention is the best way to control a problem before it starts.