Most homeowners have heard about the horrors of termites in their homes. These small pests build colonies numbering in the thousands or even millions. They feed on wood and can cause major property damage as they chew through houses, garages, decks, fencing and more. But what if you notice termites in the soil somewhere on your property? Should you be worried?
Unfortunately, if you find termites in the soil, they are likely to be subterranean termites—one of the most common and destructive termite species in the United States. These pests build their colonies in the ground near the wood that they feed on. If you see them in the soil, this is a sign that there is an active colony nearby.
Termites in the soil can also indicate a water leak or drainage problem. The reason subterranean termites build colonies in the soil is that they require damp conditions. Broken sprinkler lines, leaky faucets and cracked pipes can all attract termites. So can low areas in the yard where water pools after rainfall.
How To Deter Termites
If you notice termites anywhere on your property, it’s time to reach out to a pest control specialist who can come and make a thorough inspection.
Here are some things you can do on your own to deter termites:
- Don’t let wood touch the ground on your property. Termite problems often develop where there is wood touching the ground. Keep firewood off the ground on metal racks, well away from your house. Also, ensure a bit of clearance between the ground and your home’s wood siding. The same goes for wood fencing. Keeping at least an inch or two of clearance will cut off the termites’ access to food.
- Clear away fallen limbs, tree stumps and other rotting wood. Termites don’t just feed on the wood used to frame houses. They also feed on fallen tree limbs and stumps. Clearing these away from your property will help protect your home from termites.
- Resolve water leaks and drainage issues, both indoors and outdoors. Termites are attracted to places in the soil that stay damp. They are also attracted to damp crawl spaces underneath homes. Fixing leaky pipes, faucets and sprinkler lines will help keep these pests away. So will routing water away from your home’s foundation by replacing worn-out gutters, leveling the ground and installing French drains if needed.
- Keep mulch away from your home’s foundation. Mulch is a smart choice for gardeners who want to protect their plants’ roots and cut down on weeds. But mulch that is spread too close to the home can draw termites. Keep mulch below the level of weep holes and siding.
- Keep an eye out for termite tunnels. Also called mud tubes, these are pencil-wide tunnels of wood that termites build between their colonies and their food supplies. People often spot them on the foundation or on decking. The presence of termite tubes is often an indicator of an active termite colony nearby.
- Have your home professionally treated for termites. It’s a smart idea to set up regular inspections with a trusted pest control specialist to ensure that your home is safe from these destructive pests.
Termites Cause Damage Fast
Keep in mind that while the steps listed above will protect your home from termites, they won’t help to eliminate an active infestation. If you have active termites on your property, they must be treated by a reputable professional with termite experience.
This is because termites can create a lot of property damage fast. They feed on cellulose—the structural fiber within trees and plants that gives them their structure. When termites consume the cellulose within the wood, it weakens its structural strength. If they aren’t treated, these pests will keep eating and eating their way through the wood that makes up your home and other structures on your property.
It is estimated that American homeowners spend over $5 billion each year on termite damage to their homes. To avoid this happening to your home, reach out to a pest control professional who can use proven termite control solutions tailored to your home to keep termites away.
What to Do About Termites in the Garage
We know termites in the house are a big problem, but what about termites in garage doors or other areas of the garage? These destructive pests can cause major issues in a garage. Just like in a home, termites can feed on the wood that makes up a garage’s framing. This weakens the structure, and the damage is typically both difficult and expensive to fix.
Another problem is that termites might migrate from the garage to other structures on your property. If you have active termites anywhere on your property, wooden structures like your home, deck and fencing aren’t safe until the pests are eliminated.
Termites will most likely move from one wooden structure to another in springtime when the swarmers emerge. Swarmers are the colony’s winged termites, also called reproductives. They leave the nest after a warm rain to mate and create new colonies nearby.
Why Termites Choose Garages
Garages are a common structure for termite infestations. People often notice termites in the garage door itself if it is wooden. They also notice the pests in the wood frame that surrounds the door. The problem with this type of infestation is that termites weaken the garage’s structure. The door is a very heavy piece of equipment, so the structure that holds it up must be strong.
Different types of termites might infest a garage. Subterranean termites are the most common, but drywood termites have also been known to invade garage spaces. They also might feed on things besides the wood available in the garage. For example, if you have cardboard storage boxes in the garage, termites might feed on these.
Aside from the garage, it is extremely common to find termites in bathrooms or kitchens, where plumbing and moisture can easily be found.
If you see termites in your garage, regardless of their type, it’s time to call professional help. A pest control specialist can determine which type of termites are in your garage. They can find the colony and treat the entire area. They can also recommend steps to keep termites away in the future, including setting up regular inspections to ensure the pests don’t return.
Termites in Yard But Not in House
What should you do if you find termites in the yard but not in the house? Termites in the yard may or may not be a cause for concern. On the one hand, if they are in the yard, that means they have an active colony somewhere nearby. As long as termites are present outside, there is a chance they could infest your home at some point.
As long as they are not located near the house, garage or other wooden structures, they may feed on other wood sources. Termites in nature feed on tree stumps and fallen limbs, for example. Still, if you see signs of termites anywhere on your property, having a pest control professional inspect the area and treat these destructive pests is a good idea.
Signs of Termite Activity
Here are some common signs of termite activity:
- Wood with hollow spaces in it. This might be wood on a house, garage or storage shed, wooden decking or fencing or a rotting tree. Any of these is fair game for hungry termites, which feed on the cellulose within the wood.
- Termite mud nests or mud tubes (pictured above). Subterranean termites build colonies underground and then build pencil-wide tunnels out of mud connecting their homes to their food source. You might spot these on the foundation of your home or on the underside of a wooden deck.
- Winged termites, or shed termite wings. The reproductives of the colony have wings. These termites are responsible for swarming out of the nest in spring, finding mates and building new colonies. The active swarming process doesn’t last very long. After mating, the termites shed their wings and disappear once again. Sometimes, finding these shed wings is the only sign that termites have been there.
Since termites can cause such significant damage to a home, it’s a smart idea to have them professionally treated if you find them in the yard or anywhere else on your property. An experienced pest control specialist can use proven methods to eliminate these pests, so your home is safe.
ABC Can Eliminate Termites and Prevent Their Return
Properly controlling a termite infestation requires scientifically proven methods. At ABC Home & Commercial Services, we have scientifically-backed pest control treatments, so you know your problem has been properly controlled. Additionally, we offer ongoing termite management, so you don’t have to worry about future pest problems.