Home Improvement

How to Deal With Termites

Guests fall into two general categories: the invited and the uninvited. You can recognize the invited guests because you are expecting them and they come through an entry door. The other kind aren’t quite that caring. Other than robbers or home invaders, you could be hosting guests that you don’t know, can’t see and have not invited. These pests are termites and you don’t need to live with them.

Termite Life Cycle

The queen of the colony has only one reason for being: she reproduces. Of course, if human females were expected to produce 2,000-30,000 eggs every day, they would not have time for anything else, either. Amazingly, this diva can be expected to live 25-40 years.

The termite workers take care of the eggs and the hatchlings. Until they are of sufficient size to help forage for wood, the hatchlings are nurtured by the king and queen of the colony. As more hatchlings come along, they are fed by the new foragers.

Termite Diet

Termites need lots of cellulose to survive. Cellulose is plentiful in wood and its by-products of paper, certain cloth and cardboard. Worker termites are expected to eat the wood or whatever by-products they can find. However, certain woods are not timber and these are termite resistant. The most familiar of these woods is bamboo, a plant.

Bamboo would be the food source of last resort for a termite, especially if the homeowner is diligent with care and maintenance. Something that is resistant can still be penetrated if neglected. Therefore, home maintenance and inspection will serve to ensure that the only guests coming to dinner are the ones you invited.

Termite Genealogy

Most people who see a termite refer to them as white ants. There are differences between ants and termites, but a casual siting would not be enough to tell. Termites are related to the cockroach family. Ants derive their heritage from the insect clan. Their closest relatives are bees and wasps.

The termite is genetically predisposed to blindness, whereas the ant can see just fine. Although some termites have wings, they are notoriously weak fliers. A flight occurs when the air is still, the humidity high and the barometric pressure falling. They also fly in groups or “swarms” at least once in their lives. The homeowner can see a swarm in action and should be suspicious … very suspicious.

Termites hide. If you are about to purchase a home, be aware that a siting or history of termites cause the property to devalue. Termite damage is not obvious, their trails are well concealed. Damage can only be discovered if parts of the structure are ripped apart. Another well-known fact is that a severe storm easily topples a structure where termites have been eating and boring.

Homeowner Advice

You can prevent a termite infestation with simple, diligent annual maintenance. These home remedies are preventive measures, a cure requires professional intervention. A termite colony requires the expertise of an exterminator. These are seven simple preventive measures that you can undertake:

1) Keep moisture away from your house. Trim and prune bushes or trees that are very close to your home. Clear the gutters to be sure roof water can drain away from the house easily.

2) Dispose of discarded wood near your house. Termites consider wood as fine dining and your house will be their dessert.

3) A wooden structure should not touch the ground. Yet, homeowners add a deck, ramp or set of stairs without leaving the recommended six inch space between the wood of the structure and the ground.

4) Use termite-resistant woods such as redwood, juniper, cedar or bamboo. Although termite-resistant, they are not termite- proof. However, these woods are not appealing to the termite.

5) Hire a professional to install a sand barrier properly. Termites cannot burrow through sand, but only sand that can sift through a screen that is 16-mesh.

6) Keep a barrier between your house and any mulch you use around the plantings near your house. Mulch traps moisture that termites need to move through the mud tunnel they make in the mulch.

7) Humidity is best kept at comfort level within the house. High humidity is attractive to termites. Humidity also encourages the formation of mold and mildew. The wisest investment you could make would be the purchase of a dehumidifier to bring your environment under control.

When you adjust everything possible to make the environment very comfortable for you, the only guests coming to dinner are the ones that have an invite from you.