One of the worst headaches a Kentucky homeowner can face these days is a bug invasion, particularly a nasty termite attack that can decimate your house’s equity. It’s estimated that these pesky insects ravage over $5 billion of damages to American properties every year. This is an especially disconcerting number considering that many homeowner’s insurances do not cover this kind of damage and they are often left with big bills. That is why it is critical to arm yourself with the knowledge of protective measures and infestation responses. By following these three simple tips, you as a homeowner can put your mind at ease when it comes to these devastating pests.
Know Your Pests
Whether they came from the neighbor’s yard or followed winter-time water damage, one of the best ways to keep your house termite-free is to first learn what kind of termites you are pestered by. With over fifty described species of termites in the United States alone, it is important that you realize that there are three types of termites and they affect a home differently. There are damp-wood termites that burrow into decaying or water-damaged wood, dry-wood termites that colonize in areas with little moisture like an attic, and subterranean termites that nest underground and burrow into timber food sources. The most prominent and widespread termites homeowners encounter in Kentucky, however, is the Eastern Subterranean Termite.
Eastern Subterranean Termite
Typically digging below the frost line in the ground, these insects sprawl through networks of mud tunnels and chambers called “shelter tubes”. They have been found invading everything from books and paper, to wooden structures, even to tree stumps and shrub roots. Once maturity is reached, colony numbers can exceed several millions and they can consume five grams of wood per day (or about two and a half feet of 2×4 pine board each year). They are also known to inconspicuously infiltrate hard-to-reach spaces through cracks less than 2 millimeters wide. This means that if you are in a high-activity area like Kentucky, it is imperative that you learn the signs of infestation so you can treat a threat before any damage is caused.
Identifying the Signs
The presence of reproductive winged termites that swarm to other viable nesting areas is the most visible indicator of a termite problem. They are likely detected during the springtime (though it can be summer or fall) because swarms are prone to warmer temperatures and moister conditions. A homeowner may find dead swarmers or their translucent wings below glass doors or by windows sills where they have tried to exit the house.
Another tried and true method for detecting termites is to inspect the wood of your home firsthand. Using either a flat-head screwdriver or another bladed tool, probe suspect wood to see if it is decayed, weakened, or hollowed out. You should also be on the lookout for dirt or sod packed within the wood because termites use it to keep their surroundings dark and moist.
The last tell-tale sign of termites is the presence of mud passageways extending from their colony and nearby infested wood. Shelter tubes are comprised of saliva and earth and easily identified by their pencil-thick structures. You will likely find these inside your walls or on the foundation of your home close to the ground.
Prevent the Infestation
Now that you know your pests and what indicates their presence, it is critical that you learn how to prevent vulnerabilities. Crawl spaces, attics, wall cavities and dated ventilation systems are all at risk of becoming a termite host so be sure to clear all wet sediment and dirt so there is less chance of any termite contact. Another factor to consider is these pests’ needs for moisture. Be wary of leaky roofs, defective plumbing, and areas susceptible to flooding. Another easy deterrent is the separation of mulch, soil, and other wood from your home. You may also treat your house’s wood with various chemical seals and varnishes to help avert attacks. Out of all of these preventative measures, however, they are all surpassed by the termite-proofing of your home. After all, the professionals are the best equipped and most effective at getting the job done right and serving your specific needs on a case-by-case basis.
In conclusion, it is imperative that you understand the potential damage that termites pose to you.
Whether the infestation results in an expensive extermination process or dangerous structural damages, it is always best to be proactive and act before those bugs strike. By knowing the pests of your area, their signs of nesting, and the ways to defend your house, you as a Kentucky homeowner will sleep better knowing that your home, your finances, and your family are safe from termites.