Taking the Bite Out of Termites

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    Taking the Bite Out of Termites

    Termites are considered the most destructive insects in the world because of their feeding damage to wooden structures. In the United States, over $5 billion is spent on termite management every year. Termites can be found throughout Utah, but are most common in the southern counties.
     
    Termites, especially the winged swarmers, are commonly mistaken for ants. In
    general, termites are soft-bodied and have broad waists compared to ants with a hardened exoskeleton and constricted waist. Termites have straight antennae that resemble a string of beads, while ants have elbowed antennae. Both pair of wings on termite swarmers are about the same size and shape, but winged ants have larger forewings than hind wings.
     
    Termites eat and digest cellulose and are attracted to moist or decayed wood.
    Subterranean termites need wood-to-soil contact and build mud tubes to stay protected. Mature termite colonies can have over 1 million members and consume 1 pound of wood per day.
     
    Inspect for termites on a regular basis to minimize feeding damage. Thoroughly examine the exterior structure. Look for swarmers, mud tubes and feces, especially near wood-to-soil contact or cracks in the structure. Areas with increased moisture are particularly attractive to termites. Examine foundations, slabs, sill plates, joists, garages, porches and crawl spaces. Also check sidewalks and steps, roof eaves, gutters, windows, air conditioning or fan units, wood piles, trellises and vegetation.
     
    Check indoors for termites, and pay close attention to areas with moisture. Termite feeding can sometimes cause wood to crack and paint to blister. Termites can be found in joists and other basement-supporting structures, plumbing and heating units, drywall, baseboards and window frames.
     
    There are many ways to make a home or structure less attractive to swarming termites. Consider these tips.
     
    *  Eliminate wood-to-soil contact where possible, and keep wood and mulch away from the home. Be sure wood siding, stucco and foam board are at least 6 inches off the ground.
     
    *  Seal all foundation cracks and holes. Keep vegetation trimmed and away from the foundation. Grade soil away from the home so water does not accumulate.
     
    *  Discard infested wood. Do not bury debris.
     
    *  Repair leaking faucets, plumbing and other sources of water. Keep gutters
    clean and fix leaky roofs and eaves.
     
    *  Reduce humidity in crawl spaces, basements and attics by using additional
    ventilation.
     
    *  Use thick plastic sheeting on soil in crawl spaces and porches to provide a
    physical barrier.
     
    Several management tactics are available in Utah, including liquid insecticides and baiting. Thorough termite inspections and treatments should be completed by a licensed professional.
     

    By: Erin Hodgson - Apr. 30, 2008