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Termites are a pest that most people don’t think about until they wish they didn’t have to be thinking about them. Because they easily move into homes without the homeowners’ knowledge, termites often cause severe damage to a structure before being identified.
Understanding what signs to look for to know if you have a termite problem is important if you want to avoid costly damage and repairs. However, the signs of termite activity are often subtle and hard to identify. The following will help you know what to look for when you’re trying to spot signs of termites around your Washington D.C. property.
Although you may find it hard to believe, termites are fascinating insects. They are social creatures that live in colonies made up of a well-structured caste system that includes a queen and king, reproductives, soldiers, and workers. Each caste performs specific duties that help the colony survive.
Termites are small insects with long, narrow bodies, six legs, and a set of straight antennae. The reproductive termites have two sets of wings that fall off after they mate. Reproductive termites resemble flying ants and are often mistaken for them. Termites in other levels of the caste system also resemble ants but are a milky white or yellow color.
Termites eat wood, and although they typically prefer wet, rotten wood, they can also be found in dry, sound wood. The workers are responsible for digging tunnels and collecting wood to feed to the rest of the colony.
Termite activity often goes unnoticed for weeks, months, or even years at a time. It’s hard to imagine your home being destroyed without your knowledge, but this scenario plays out all over the United States every year.
Termites are responsible for over $5 billion in structural damage to homes and businesses every single year, and that damage is often caused because the home or business owners are unaware of the presence of termites. So how do these tricky pests do it?
Termites get away with getting into buildings and damaging them while totally undetected because they remain out of sight the vast majority of the time. Termites live underground. All but the reproductive termites are unable to withstand the dry air and sunlight that comes with being out in the open, so they spend their entire lives hidden away. In fact, if they have to leave the ground to move to a different location, worker termites will build mud tubes to move through to protect themselves from the light and air.
Once termites get inside your house or business, they stay hidden within your walls or other wooden structures in your house. In the end, you are unlikely to ever lay eyes on a termite as they damage the inside of wood throughout your home. Therefore, if you’re not paying attention, you’re unlikely to notice a termite infestation until it has caused serious damage.
With an understanding of why termite activity often goes unnoticed, it becomes more important than ever to be proactive about looking for signs of termite activity. Although it can be difficult to spot the subtle signs of a termite infestation around your Washington D.C. property, it’s not impossible. They do leave some signs behind if you know where to look and what to look for.
As mentioned previously, termites will build mud tubes if they need to leave the confines of their underground world. These tubes are about the width of a pencil and are typically built on interior or exterior foundation walls.
If you have any exposed wood in your house, check it for small holes. These holes can be an indication of a termite infestation.
If you find small holes and also find little piles of a sawdust-like material below the holes, it’s an even surer sign of a termite infestation. Termites prefer clean tunnels and will push debris, called frass, out of the holes.
Knock on your exposed wood. If it sounds hollow, it may be riddled with termite tunnels.
Have your windows or doors been sticking or feeling tighter than normal? Although this can become a problem during humid times of the year, it can also be an indication of a termite infestation.
Reproductive termites usually come out in the open in the spring of the year to mate. These termites exit the colony in a large swarm and after finding a mate, they shed their wings, and they go back underground. If you see this swarm or find a pile of discarded wings, it’s a certain sign of a termite infestation.
Another sign of termite activity is bubbling or peeling paint or wallpaper.
If your walls or ceilings begin to bulge or sag, or your floors begin to buckle, you might have a termite infestation.
Termites may not be loud, but if you have a large infestation, you may hear faint clicking sounds coming from your walls.
Termites can be found in every state in the United States except Alaska. They are definitely in Washington D.C., and they are likely in your neighborhood if not already in your house. Although termites can be found almost anywhere, there are certain factors that they find more attractive making them more likely to invade your Washington D.C. property.
Termites love moisture. They need it in the soil to survive, but they also like it in the wood that they infest. Although they can and do infest sound wood, they much prefer wood that has water damage or is rotting.
Therefore, you can make your property less attractive to termites by reducing moisture wherever possible. Outside, make sure you have proper drainage systems in place so that water is dispersed and doesn’t end up pooling around the exterior of your house. Inside, ensure proper ventilation to lower humidity. Install dehumidifiers if necessary. Both inside and outside, check for leaky pipes or drippy faucets, and repair any that require repairs. If any wood gets damaged by water, replace the affected areas.
Termites are also more likely to invade a home where they can easily access wooden structures. If your property has areas where wood comes into direct contact with the soil, you’re more likely to have termites come to your property. Common spots where direct wood to soil contact occurs is at fences, porches, and decks where the beams or posts are buried directly in the soil.
If your property has these areas, first check them for termite damage by digging down into the soil a few inches and examining the wood for grooves or other signs of termite damage. Then either remove or replace these areas with a wood alternative to eliminate the wood to soil contact.
Even by taking preventative steps to make sure your Washington D.C. property is less appealing to termites, you still run the risk of a termite infestation. Although making your home less appealing to termites may decrease your chances of a termite infestation, it doesn’t protect your house from a termite infestation.
Furthermore, there are no do-it-yourself methods of termite prevention to protect your home against a termite infestation. If you want to take proactive measures to avoid a termite problem, you need the preventative control provided by American Pest.
American Pest offers installation and maintenance of The Sentricon® System with Always Active™. This termite baiting system is not only effective at preventing termite infestations, but also eliminates active infestations, making it perfect for your home no matter what your current termite situation may be.
The Sentricon® System with Always Active™ works through the use of bait stations. After developing a customized termite control plan for your home, one of our expert, licensed pest technicians strategically installs these bait stations into the soil around the perimeter of your house. Safe from tampering to protect your children and pets, Sentricon® with Always Active™ contains a bait that is scientifically proven to be more attractive to termites than the cellulose in wood.
When termites encounter the bait, they spread it throughout their colony in two ways. First, it can spread from termite to termite through contact. Second, the termite will leave a pheromone trail to alert other termites to its presence. As it spreads through the colony, the termites will all be eliminated within a few months.
For termite protection that works, don’t wait until termites have already invaded your home. Although careful and proactive inspections can alert you to a termite infestation early on, the better solution is always to prevent a termite infestation before it starts.
If your Washington D.C. property is not currently protected from termites, call American Pest. We’ll perform a thorough inspection of your property to look for signs of an active infestation, then go over a solution that will work for your home.
Stop worrying about termites and do something about them! American Pest is ready to help you with your termite control needs. Contact us today.
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