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Of all the pests out there, termites are by far the most costly and difficult to treat in the United States. They are treated for prevention before houses are built, after houses are framed up, and they are treated during infestations, all of which form a giant junk of the total revenue in the pest control industry. They jockey with ants for the top spot in the United States as the most complained about pest in the United States as well. The treatments are also some of the most technically difficult services to perform and require some of the longest warranties in the industry. This, combined with the very real and costly litigation risks, is why many pest control companies choose not to offer the service at all. So lets talk a little about these wood destroying pests and what you can do to reduce your risk of having an encounter with termites. Termites have existed on earth for over 100 million years. In the natural world, termites have the task of recycling most of the earth’s cellulose material, otherwise known as wood. They can do this because they have a very special type of bacteria in their gut that can break down the cellulose material. This is symbiotic relationship between the termite and the bacteria. Termites are also very closely related to cockroaches. As a matter of fact they are scientifically ordered in the same group as cockroaches. They are small, cream-colored insects that are blind and live underground, depending on the species. Some species of termites can nest inside of wood. However, most termites nest in the ground. Somewhat similar to ants in a sense of how the chain of command works, Termites differ from ants in that they have a life more like a cockroach. When an egg hatches, a small termite goes through a handful of “molts”, or a shedding of their current exoskeleton. However, like many ant colonies on earth, termites have a queen, workers and soldiers. Termites cause tens of millions of dollars in structure damages every year in the United States. Some of the damage is severe enough to make it economically impossible to repair the structure. This means that a portion of structures infested with termites actually need to be demolished. This is why all home purchases and refinances, excluding cash purchases, must have a wood destroying pest inspection performed before the sale can be completed. Evidence of these infestations come in a variety of forms. Termites will swarm at various times of the year depending on the species. These swarms indicate a termite colony is nearby which should prompt further investigation. Swarms consist of hundreds of winged insects exiting a hole and flying up in the air to mate with each other. Another common sign of termite infestations in small little holes in the drywall inside of a home, usually running along the length of a structural wood member. A common place to see these holes is in a bathroom that is being poorly ventilated. More common sign of termite infestations are piles of finely ground sawdust and soil fragments on the floor and patterns in drywall that look similar to the veining patterns in plant leaves. So what can we do about this problem? Well there are a number of precautions and good habits you can do to prevent problems. The most important is to make sure your water pipes are sealed. Make sure your sink and toilet plumbing is sealed. Have a plumbing company make sure your water pipes aren’t leaking in the walls. Make sure you ventilate bathrooms when bathing or showering. Make sure that the soil in your yard is not sloping towards your house. These are all moisture related issues, which you want to limit as much as possible. You also want make sure you have no wood that is touching the ground and touching your building at the same time so, what we are talking about here are things like patio covers made of wood going straight into the ground or wooden lattices for vine plants going into the ground touching the building. The key things to remember and be mindful of is this. Limit water and moisture on your property and limits wood or wood scraps on your property. If your not sure where to start taking termite prevention precautions, call American Pest Control. We will conduct a wood destroying pest inspection and give you instructions on where to start.