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Termites: It’s the dreaded word that homeowners hope they’ll never hear during a home inspection. Termites are such a common serious issue that there are special laws in place guiding inspectors, homeowners, and real estate agents in their handling of termite presence and damage. If you are a current or soon-to-be homeowner, you should take the time to educate yourself on how to identify the insect and the damage it can cause.

This week in our spring pest damage series, termites are taking the spotlight as one of the most common pests to infest and cause damage to homes in the Northeast. 

What Does a Termite Look Like?

Homeowners often have an idea of what an insect might look like but need to realize that there is more than one version of that insect. When it comes to termites, there are five different ways a termite looks depending on its role or “job” within the colony. There are also many look-alike insects, such as carpenter ants.

Termites have:

  • Queens – large, long, medium brown, and broad-bodied 
  • Kings – long, broad, and dark brown bodies 
  • Workers – look much like a typical ant and have a light tan or translucent body
  • Winged Reproductives – smallest-bodied of the termites, medium orange-brown with long, skinny, equally-sized, overlapping wings
  • Soldiers – a bit bigger than a typical ant, light orange-brown with more prominent heads and pincers
  • Eggs and larvae – white or translucent, small jelly-bean eggs and grubs

If you spot a suspected termite, consider where you saw the insect and its behavior. Workers, queens, kings, larvae, and eggs will all be within the nest – their mud tubes – or inside damaged wood. Stray termites outside the nest and wood are most likely winged reproductives or soldiers. It is less common to see termites in the home than it is to see carpenter ants, which have narrower waists, segmented antennae, and larger forewings with smaller hind wings.

Related Article: Spring Pest Damage: Carpenter Bees

Signs of Termites

One of the most common signs of termite infestation is their tell-tale ascending mud tubes along the exterior of a home and in the crawl space. These mud tubes are the termite’s nest and workspace where they eat away at the wood. Any loose and hollow-sounding wood is an immediate warning sign, but you may also notice signs of wood damage like wood dust or signs of water damage like peeling paint and discoloration.

If you have any concerns about the structural integrity of your home, such as squeaky floorboards, drooping drywall, or loosening tiles, immediately call a professional.

How to Prevent Termite Damage

In some states, homeowners are required by law to take certain steps toward termite prevention. Before the selling of any home, termite inspections are also done to ensure there are no active infestations, and buyers are informed of any previous termite issues. A great preventative measure against termites is to have a pest control company contracted to regularly inspect your home for signs of termites and apply preventative pesticides.

To make your home and yard less habitable for termites, you should also:

  • Avoid any accumulation of water or humidity buildup around and within your home
  • Safely store wood above ground level and away from your foundation or crawl space
  • Look for alternatives to mulch, as this landscaping solution is a breeding ground for many pests and an environment that leads to mold and fungus growth

Termites naturally live in the soil, so they might always be present. Homeowners can prevent termite damage, however, by taking the above necessary precautionary measures.

Related Article: 3 Ways to Protect Your Wooden Deck

Repairing Damage from Termites

Unfortunately, termite infestations can hide away within wood for long enough to do serious damage before homeowners become aware of their presence. Homeowners who do not regularly inspect their home exterior and crawlspaces might end up with extensive damage before they take action. Depending on the location and extent of the damage, you might need to undergo a substantial remodeling project.

If you have a regular issue with wood-damaging pests, consider installing vinyl or another damage-resistant material. Advance Inc. offers a wide range of durable and pest-resistant options like insulated vinyl siding, Trex composite decking, and more.

Contact Advance Inc. for your in-home consultation today. 

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