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Termites: The Silent Destroyer

Need-to-Know Facts about Termite Prevention and Damage

By Hope Bowman, Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services

If you thought you had a long workday, consider this: termites work 24 hours a day – they don’t sleep! These pests are tough. They’re determined. And they’re efficient.

They’re also resilient. It’s believed that termites have been roaming the earth for more than 250 million years. It’s no wonder they’re good at their craft!

Known as the “silent destroyer,” termites have the ability to chew through wood, flooring and wallpaper, often without being detected – hence the nickname. They usually live entirely out of sight, and by the time they’re detected, often the damage has been done.

The most common species in the Northeast is the eastern subterranean termite. Their colonies are located underground and can vary in size from thousands to tens of thousands of termites. One yard alone could support three or more colonies.

These small pests cost homeowners excessive amounts of money each year. It’s difficult to calculate just how many dollars are spent annually on termite damage and treatment, but some experts believe it’s as high as billions of dollars. Not only is termite damage expensive, but it can also be dangerous. As termites infest a house or building, they tunnel through wood – often wood that is structurally important such as support beams – and overtime make it weakened, which can cause collapse.

While termites are year-round pests, they are most active when temperatures are above 60 degrees. So, as the season begins to change from winter to spring, it’s time to start thinking about how termites could impact your home or community.

Preventing termites is usually much easier than getting rid of them, so knowing what to look for and how to prevent a termite infestation are great places to start.

Signs of Termite Activity

Keep an eye out for the following telltale signs of termite activity.

Because these signs are not always present or visible to an untrained eye, consider having an experienced pest management provider regularly complete a thorough inspection to determine if termites are living nearby.

Termite Prevention Tips

In addition to being aware of the signs of termite activity, it’s important to understand what you can do to help prevent termites.

Termites need two main things to survive and thrive: food and moisture. They eat cellulose, the main ingredient in wood, so any type of wood can become a food source for termites. They are also dependent on moisture, so any excess water on your property needs to be eliminated.

Use these tips to remove or modify the conditions around your property that attract termites:

You can also work with a professional termite specialist to implement monitoring and baiting systems that can proactively help protect against termites. These might include:

Don’t let termites take a bite out of homes in your community. Be aware of termite signs, eliminate conducive conditions, and work with a pest management professional to determine the best control methods for your specific needs.

Hope Bowman is a Technical Specialist and Board Certified Entomologist with Western Pest Services, a New Jersey-based pest management company serving businesses and homeowners in major Northeastern markets.