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Home Improvement

How to treat termite problem

3/14/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Plants and gardens touching exterior walls of a home may provide the right environment for a termite colony.
Photo courtesy of MetroCreativeConnection
Termites are houseguests few homeowners want to experience. With their reputation for voracity and the damage they can inflict on a home, termites are something most people want to avoid at all costs. If termites are already a problem or something homeowners simply want to prevent, there are effective ways to banish these unwelcome guests or keep them from ever entering a home.

What is a termite?

Termites are small social insects that have the capability to destroy wood. Sometimes they are mistaken for ants, but the two insects are quite different. Termites are actually close relatives to the cockroach. Many termites appear as white or light-colored and may seem translucent. Winged termites are darker in color. Termites have a grub-shaped body but, unlike ants, no discernable hourglass-shaped waist. Also, their antennae are straight and look beaded, like a string of pearls, while ants have elbowed antennae. Another way to differentiate ants from termites is that termite eyes are very small or nonexistent, while ants’ eyes are clearly visible.

Termites live in a nest or colony in large numbers. Their primary food source is plant fiber, known as cellulose. Most termites are rarely seen unless they are swarming or if their nest or a portion of wood has been opened, revealing the insects inside.

Treating termites

Many people do not even know they have a termite problem until that problem has escalated. Because they remain hidden most of the time, termites can be difficult to detect. Incidences of soft wood or visual recognition of swarming termites that occur in the spring can indicate that termites could be residing in a structure or nearby. There are different types of termites, and proper identification is necessary to find the correct treatment option.

Unlike other pests, termites are pests whose detection and removal is best left to a professional who can recognize the subtle signs. He or she will identify certain signs of an infestation, such as mud-looking material on wooden surfaces, discarded wings from a swarm, piles of sawdust, termite tubes running outdoors from the soil to a home, buckling paint and other indications.

There are different ways to prevent or treat a termite infestation. To prevent termites, there are applications of termiticides that are put into the soil surrounding a home or structure. Also, removal of moisture in and around the house is key because termites need moist conditions for survival. Poisoning of nests is also a treatment option.

If termites already have infiltrated a home, fumigation may be necessary to remedy that problem. However, fumigation is not always effective at killing eggs and all of the termites. Most exterminators will use a combination of treatments to rid a home of termites.

If extreme wood damage has occurred, portions of the structure may have to be removed and rebuilt. This also may help alleviate some of the scent trails termites use to travel to and from nests and food sources.

Other tips

There are other tactics to prevent a termite problem.

  • Don’t store firewood in contact with the ground.
  • Use chemically treated wood for building structures.
  • Disguise wood by painting it or using a shellac or varnish. Termites may not like the taste of treated wood.
  • Prevent hidden entry points where termites can go unseen.
  • Remove cardboard, newspaper, cotton materials and any other cellulose from the floor.
  • Vent kitchens and baths so they will not trap moisture.
  • Fix any and all water leaks.
  • Don’t plant gardens or put soil directly against a home’s exterior walls.

Some simple precautions and a routine inspection can prevent termites from becoming a problem. 

 

This information was provided courtesy of MetroCreativeConnection.

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