A termite infestation is no reflection on the property owner. Because termites live and travel in the soil beneath a home, even the most beautiful, well-kept homes are vulnerable to damage. In fact, if termites are infesting one structure in a neighborhood, the whole neighborhood may be at-risk. Termites tunnel from their home in the soil in a constant search for wood to eat. But they can't tell the difference between a dead tree and your house. If they come across your home's foundation while foraging, they'll follow any cracks or crevices into your home. They may even enter through wood in contact with the soil or by building pencil-sized mud tunnels from ground levels to where the house's wood frame begins. Termites can enter your home through expansion joints, and utility and plumbing openings in the foundation. And they are small – all they need is an opening 1/32-inch wide to squeeze into your home.
There are about 2,800 known species of termites throughout the world. In the U.S., Subterranean termites (aptly named because they build underground nests), including Eastern, Western, Desert and Formosan subterranean termites are a concern in every state except Alaska. Subterranean termites can be extremely destructive because they tunnel their way to wooden structures (like your home) to obtain food. With a taste for timber, termites will make a meal of homes. They nest underground and if left unchecked, can hollow out timber frames, floorboards and even frames supporting the house.
Chances are, you won't actually see termites or a termite swarm, which lasts less than an hour. More likely, you'll see evidence of swarming – sudden appearance of winged termites; piles of small, lacey wings; or mud tunnels termites build. Under ideal conditions, a typical termite colony with 250,000 workers can eat about 20 feet of a 2 x 4 board per year. If you find evidence of an infestation, there's no need to panic. It's unlikely the damage will get much worse from the time you first discover termites to the time your home is treated. Still, stopping the destruction sooner rather than later is important to avoid costly damage and repairs.
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