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7 Things Every Homeowner Should Know About Termites

big termite up close

When it comes to home ownership, termites can be a catchword. When you finance a home, you have to get a Wood Destroying Insect or “termite report” you hear about people that find termites in their house, and you probably get at least one mailer a year talking about termite-proofing your home. So what should a homeowner really know about termites?

Termites Eat Wood

Termites live off of cellulose which is found in plant materials such as wood. Unfortunately for us omnivores, wood is the most common building material in standard residential homes. In their quest for a lumber lunch, they often can chew, penetrate and damage other materials such as drywall, plaster, stucco, and plastic and exploit cracks in concrete or mortar.

Termites Are Diggers

The most widespread group of termites in the United States and Texas are subterranean termites. Termites often reach a house by tunneling to the house and then finding entry points through foundation cracks, openings, and gaps in siding. Often a termite colony that is infesting a house must maintain contact with the ground to obtain adequate moisture to sustain the colony.

Termites Don’t Bite*

Most termite colonies consist of worker termites that are incapable of biting humans. These buggers have a craving for only wood and would rather run from you than fight. Less than 5% of the termite colony consists of soldier termites which are the keepers of the colony. Although soldiers do have mandibles that are capable of biting, their jaws are tiny, and they won’t leave a mark.

Termites Are Relatively Slow Eaters

It takes a small colony of Eastern Subterranean termites about 157 days to consume a one-foot length of 2x4. That may seem slow, but the amount of timber missing in a structural frame can be bad news. Not to mention, unless you know what to look for, signs of termite activity can be hard to spot right away.

Termites Cause Damage Any Time Of The Year No Matter The House

The most common groups of termites naturally live inside the earth, meaning they are awesomely resilient to rain and weather. So whether your house is a new build or a family heirloom, it is susceptible to termite infestation no matter the curb appeal.

Termites Are ‘Beneficial’

Termites are classified as decomposers. Their niche in the ecosystem is to break down fallen trees, branches, and plants to provide nutrients to the soil. From an environmental standpoint, termites are beneficial; from a what-is-that-in-my-house standpoint, they are not beneficial.

Termites Cost Money

It is estimated that termites cost US residents $5 billion a year, which is a lot considering termite damage isn’t covered in most home insurance policies. A preventive termite treatment is a smart choice to protect an even bigger investment, your home. It is also a less stressful alternative than mitigating termite damage.

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