Protecting one's home from termites should be a major priority for any homeowner. The investment made toward a property and the structure itself can be severely damaged by these destructive insects. Termites generally prefer to feed on dead plant material, however, if termites enter a house or building, they will eat any wood, carpet, cloth or paper that they find.
What Are Termites?
Termites are small organisms that live underneath the ground. These subterranean organisms construct small structures that retain enough moisture for their survival. When termites are in soil, they are often harmless and will not affect your home. However, when they enter your home the problems begin.
Termites are generally lighter in color than a typical house ant. They do share many similarities, though. Both flying ants and termites have wings, but termite's wings are shaped like their bodies while ant's wings are larger and are shaped differently. Both ants and termites have distinct mid-sections, though termite's bodies are broader in size. As for their antennae, ant's antennae are shaped in a bent position, almost like an elbow shape, while the termite's antennae will be curved or straight.
Termites are not typically seen when they are infesting your home, but you might see swarms of them outside your home after it rains. This is an indication of a large infestation. If you notice this kind of swarm, call Terminix immediately. If not, look on your windowsills and other ledges outside your home for wings that have been shed when the termites entered your home.
Why Do Termites Like to Eat Wood?
There are a few things that help keep termites alive and in your home - water, cellulose and shelter. Cellulose is what makes up dead wood. Termites "eat" cellulose in order to stay alive, absorbing its nutrients and moisture. When there is no cellulose, they look elsewhere for sources of nutrition. Termites can survive solely on water; however cellulose is the best source of nutrients for their diet.
Termites will eat any type of wood, as long as the wood is dead, and most houses have plenty of dead wood for termites to feast on. Stumps, mulch, and other wood debris are a perfect meal for a hungry termite. If termites get into the foundation of a home and into the wooden structure, they can cause severe damage.
What You Can Do About It
More times than not, termites will find sources of water to begin their search. Eliminating these water areas is the best way to defend your house from termites. Make sure that water is always drained away from your home, not toward it. If possible, also move any soil that has collected next to your home away from the foundation. Clean your gutters often to be sure that water is running away from the structure.
Also, the removal of any sources of dead wood around your home or near your home's foundation can deter termites as well. Mulch should not cover the foundation line of your home, but should be underneath it, keeping the "way in" away from the termites that might be near your home. Also be sure that the wood areas of your home are not exposed through cracks and seams in the foundation. Check your foundation yearly to be sure that everything is structurally sound and that you are not inviting trouble.
Additionally, make sure you are on the lookout for signs of termites in your home - the actual organisms, mud holes, and even damaged wood are all signs you might have a problem.
Even if you simply suspect that you have a problem with termites, you should call Terminix. They will assess the problem as well as the damage to see if you need extermination or something more.
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Craig Elliott is a writer for Terminix. Terminix is a leading provider of Pest Control | Termite Services
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