Tips to Protect Your Home from Termites

David Deem

As the spring sun begins to shine, we all look forward to putting this season's very wet weather behind us. According to pest experts, the wet winter will be a perfect breeding ground for pests, and termites are no exception. Long considered one of the most prevalent and damaging pests in the South, termites will cause more than $5 billion in property damage this year alone. And that damage, says Arrow pest expert Shay Runion, is not usually covered by homeowners' insurance. Runion encourages homeowners to learn more about termite control to protect their most important investment.

Subterranean, drywood and Formosan termites are the most common termites found in the South. These termites usually become active in early spring, as soon as temperatures begin to heat up and continue throughout the summer. Once they enter the home, termites can tunnel 24 hours a day through cracks in concrete, wood, carpeting, floors and wallpaper.

Runion explains that while termite behavioral patterns have changed over the years, the absence of typical "swarming" signs doesn't mean there is no activity happening in the soil below the foundation of your home. Evidence of mud tunneling in, over and under wood structures; darkening or blistering of wood; or damaged wood becoming extremely thin are all tell-tale signs of a termite infestation and require the immediate attention of a pest professional.

"It's important for homeowners to understand that our below normal temperatures will not slow termite activity this spring," says Runion. "Termites are always active in the spring, so it is imperative that homeowners get an inspection early. Once a termite infestation begins, they work quickly causing significant property damage."

Steps to help prevent termites this summer:

-Eliminate moisture around foundations and divert water from the house by using proper downspouts and gutters.

-Seal cracks and holes including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home.

-Do not stack firewood or lumber near home and inspect it carefully before bringing it indoors.

-Keep tree branches, shrubbery and ground covering well trimmed and away from the house.

-Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation.

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