How Much Do You Know About the Bugs that Eat Our Homes?

Kimberly Bean
Kimberly Bean
Published on March 14, 2018

Powdery stuff on the floor near the wall. Tiny mud tubes on the wall. One- to two-inch round holes near the eaves, deck, and siding.

They’re easy to overlook, but these are all signs of a wood-destroying infestation in and around your Southern Maryland home. Overlook the clues at your own peril; the damage caused by these tiny insects can be expensive to repair.

Even worse, it’s seldom covered by homeowners’ insurance policies.

In fact, U.S. homeowners spend more than $5 billion a year to repair termite damage alone, according to pest-control company Orkin. Get to know them and the symptoms of an infestation so you can stop the damage before it eats away at your pocketbook, too.

Termites are the most common wood-destroying pest, and they’re present in every state except Alaska. If that’s not bad enough news, consider this: There is more than one type of termite.

There are more than 2,000 different species of this bug, the three subcategories most commonly found in our homes include subterranean, dampwood, and drywood termites.

Each type prefers a different type of wood. If you suspect you have termites in your attic, they are probably the drywood variety. They like to eat wood with little moisture content. Decayed woods are attractive to dampwood termites. Subterranean termites aren’t picky, but they seem to prefer softwoods like pine, fir, and spruce.

How much to termites eat? The experts at Orkin say that the amount of wood a termite colony can eat depends on which type of termite is dining, the size of the colony, and a few other factors. The Formosan termite is the most voracious, Orkin warns. They live in large colonies and “can cause extensive damage to a home in less than six months” under ideal conditions. They prefer warm, humid climates (hello, Hawaii!).

Termites eat wood, but don’t assume your home is safe if it was constructed of other materials. According to pest control experts, termites can go right through metal siding. Plaster poses no problem for them, either.

Once they get inside, they’ll infest anything made of wood, including furniture, cabinetry, floors, and ceilings. They’ll weaken the home’s structure, the stairs, the outside deck, and more.

And, termites do this without leaving obvious traces of their existence. If you know what to look for, however, you can act quickly.

What are the signs of a termite infestation? You’ll need to look closely. “Termite damage sometimes appears similar to water damage,” the pros at Orkin say.

In other words, don’t assume that the buckling of your wood floor is from moisture intrusion because it just may be termites causing it. Mold- and mildew-like odors may also indicate a termite infestation.

Look for tiny mud tunnels near the home’s foundation – a sure sign of a subterranean termite colony nearby. Other signs to look for include:

  • Tiny wings on window sills and floors, near the wall.
  • Cracked paint.
  • Wood that gives a hollow sound when tapped on.

The first step to preventing termites is to stop inviting them into your home. We look at homes every day, and we see a lot of “termite attractants” both inside and out. One of the most common is a woodpile pushed up against the home. Other common termite invitations include:

  • Allowing the sprinkler to hit the side of the home.
  • Cracks in foundation walls.
  • Attaching wood trellises or wooden planters to exterior walls.
  • Insufficient ventilation in crawl spaces.
  • Blocked foundation vents.
  • Shrubbery planted too close to the home’s foundation.
  • Gutters filled with leaves and other organic debris.

You’ll need the services of a pest control professional to eradicate termites. It’s not a DIY project.

“There are two general categories of termite treatment,” say the experts in the entomology department at the University of Kentucky. These categories are:

  • Liquid termaticides – Applied to the soil, they keep termites from entering the home. They also kill those termites who have already moved in, since they can’t get back outside without crossing the liquid’s barrier.
  • Bait – “Termite baits consist of paper, cardboard, or other palatable food, combined with a slow-acting substance lethal to termites,” say the pros at the University of Kentucky. The bait material is placed in a plastic tube, underground, or inside, over the mud tubes.

Reach out to us if you plan on selling your Southern Maryland home and think you may have a termite problem. We’re happy to refer you to a professional for additional advice.

Leonardtown MD Homes for Sale and Real Estate Services in Southern Maryland. You now have a search engine to help you with your Southern Maryland home search! And I’m ready to provide you with a custom home valuation if you’re considering selling your home. Let’s connect to discuss how I can help you. Contact Kimberly Bean at 301-440-1309

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