They will silently chew your house to the ground. By the time you notice anything, it will be too late. And you thought your inlaws were horrible house guests. These tiny intruders have a mouth designed to chew wood. Every year in the U.S. they cause more than $5 billion in property damage. Worldwide that number soars to $40 billion. If you spot a few, they’re not alone. A termite nest can have a population of about a million, and they’re just as adept at hiding as cockroaches. You might not even notice them until you see the damage they’ve caused, and by then it might already be too late. Why is planting a tree near your house dangerous? How many years can an infestation go unnoticed? How could termites set your house on fire?

Step 1. Don’t Let Them In

Termite trespassers are hard to kick out, so you want to prevent them from entering in the first place. Look for holes that could give them access. Fill in any cracks that you might find using cement, grout or caulk. Hungry termites will feed on wooden structures that are up to 100 m (328 ft) from their nest. If you want to plant trees, keep some space between them and your home. You also don’t want them near any exposed wood. That would only provide a direct route to your house.

Step 2. Keep Your House Dry

Termites love moist and warm environments. They build their nests in spots with high humidity. The last thing you want is to make your home hospitable for them. Keep it as dry as possible. Conduct regular maintenance checks around your house. Pay special attention to drainage, gutters and downspouts. You want to make sure that the soil around the base of your home is dry.
If there are any leaks, fix them immediately so you don’t create a welcoming future nesting ground.

Step 3. Don’t Be a Hoarder

That pile of old fencing you’re keeping next to your house because you think you can repurpose it for something else? Get rid of it. It’s just a disaster waiting to happen. In 2011, a fire almost destroyed a home in Lynnwood, Washington. It took firefighters 25 minutes to bring the situation under control. A termite infestation created piles of sawdust in decomposing wood, and heat from the nest helped start the fire. The blaze spread, causing $200,000 in damage.

Step 4. Identify the Problem

Termites are incredibly tough. They’ve evolved to survive by hiding away from predators, such as birds. They know how to lay low and go unnoticed for a long time. Your home can sustain them for years before the damage starts to show. Being aware of their presence in the early stages of the infestation could save your house and your pocketbook. Examine exposed wood and any hollow spots for telltale signs such as mud tunnels, which termites create to travel through. They’re not proficient flyers, but they do shed their wings. If you spot these, that’s a problem.

Step 5. Kill Them

Once you’re aware of the infestation, you need to act immediately. Hopefully, there’s still something to be saved. And this isn’t a do-it-yourself project. You’ll have to call the pros. They’ll provide soil-applied termiticides, termite bait and wood treatments to try and save your property. You can repair any damage with materials fused with termiticides if you never want to see these critters come back. Dealing with uninvited insect guests that feast on your home is horrible, but could it get worse?

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments