What Should I Do If I Think My Houston Home Has Termites?
There are many ways you may come to the conclusion that termites have found their way into your home. When you do, the questions start pouring in. If you're like most Houston residents, you don't know how to get rid of termites in a wall or floor. But that is only where the questions start. You'll want to know how much damage these insects do, how long it takes for serious damage to occur, how to detect activity, what works to arrest activity, and how to protect yourself from having to pay a ton of money to correct the problem. Today, we're going to look at many of the questions folks in Houston have about termites. We'll cover all the big ones. We'll also tell you what works to give you the absolute best control of termites. If you'd like to speak to someone directly about termite control in Houston, remember that your Modern Pest Control team is always available to provide insights. Our technicians have extensive experience dealing with termites. We can help you sort things out. That said, let's dig in and unravel the mystery of termites in Houston.
What Are The Signs Of Termites?
If you see a warning sign that you think may have something to do with termites, there is a chance it isn't actually termites. For example, seeing a spot where something has damaged the wood of your home may lead you to believe termites have invaded, but other pests, like carpenter ants, wood-boring beetles, mice, rats, carpenter bees, and others, can all cause similar looking damage. In fact, termites are low on the list of pests that will create damage you can see. Most of the damage done by termites is on the inside, where you can't see it, and when they create visible damage, it is often done in dark, sheltered, and humid spots. Therefore, looking for damaged wood isn't the best way to spot warning signs of termites.
The signs that are the best are often missed or misunderstood. For example, do termites have wings? What do you think? Some think that winged termites are a species of termites. Others think that termites do not have wings and that the winged insects they find must be something else. The fact is that there are a few different kinds of termites in the same colony. The vast majority of termites are workers. Those are the wingless termites that eat wood. There is also the queen and the king. They work hard in the heart of a colony to create lots of workers. They also make soldier termites to protect the workers. As they grow their colony, they will produce reproductive termites to help. These reproductives are the only termites to have wings. Their job is to leave the colony, mate, and create more colonies. If you see black or orange insects with long wings that round off at the tips, take notice. Those are termites that are about to create more nests in or around your yard. The entire length of a winged termite is around ⅜ of an inch, so seeing one by itself may not catch your attention. When we get calls to service termites, it is usually when dozens of these swarmers are seen indoors or on the exterior of homes.
Another misunderstood warning sign is the appearance of mud tubes. If you see a wiggly mud line running down your foundation wall, you may think it is just muddy residue left by soil and rain. If you do, you'll miss a valuable warning sign of termite activity. Subterranean termites often have to create these shelter tubes in order to feed on the wood inside a structure. Identifying these structures can help you prevent extensive termite damage. But don't expect to see shelter tubes out in the open. Termites hide from the sun and the moon. They have a strong aversion to light. Therefore, the tubes they create are found under decks, in crawl spaces, and in other hidden spots.
When you have termites on your property, you may actually see them. But you may not realize what you've found. It is one thing to look at photos of termites on the internet and another to actually see them in your yard. What is the difference? The photos on the internet show termites large and in detail. When you see one (or several) in your yard, you may think nothing of them. A termite worker is ⅛ of an inch long. So, when you pick up a branch from the ground and see pale-colored bugs on it, you may throw it away without a second thought. Some people say they thought they were just ants. Others have said that the termites looked like maggots. When you see pale-colored bugs, we hope you take a closer look. You can tell ants and termites apart by looking at the waist. Termites look like fat ants. They do not have the distinctly pinched waist of an ant. If you think they're maggots, consider the fact that maggots don't have legs. If the little maggot-like bugs are crawling around, you've likely found termites.
The last misconception to consider is the sound termites make. Will you hear them crunching on the wood in your home? No. If you hear crunching, it is much more likely that you have carpenter bees or ants. Termites don't bite wood; they scrape it. The sound is subtle and undetectable to the human ear. But you may hear termites under the right circumstances. Termites can make a clicking noise. The noise has nothing to do with the worker termites feeding on the wood. The sound is created by the soldiers. It is the sound of the soldiers banging their heads on tunnel walls. They do this to warn of a threat, like invading ants. But, since the number of soldiers is only a fraction of the number of workers, it takes a lot of termites to create a noise you'll notice. We don't recommend waiting to hear termites in your walls or floors.
Hopefully, at this point, you have a much better understanding of termites and the warning signs they leave for you to find. Now, let's discuss what you can expect from termites on your property. There are many more misconceptions to tackle.
How Quickly Can Termites Destroy A House?
If you find termites in Houston, you may decide to do nothing about them. It can seem like a small problem when you've only seen a handful of worker termites in your yard and you've never seen a swarm. Can you ignore termites when you catch them in your yard? Let's start with the big question. How quickly can termites destroy a house? We can't give you an exact answer to this, but we can give you perspective.
- Termite workers travel an incredible distance in search of food to eat. Imagine the length of a football field with a termite colony on one end and your home on the other. That is the distance they can travel.
- Termite colonies don't mind sharing. You can have more than one colony of termites feed on your home at the same time.
- Termite colonies can have hundreds of thousands of workers, each nibbling away at your property.
- Termite colonies replicate. When swarmers are sent out, they break off into couples and attempt to make nests. One swarm can give rise to many nests on your property.
- Termite workers do not require sleep. They can actively acquire food all day, every day.
- In Houston, termites are active 365 days a year.
As you can see, a termite problem is no small problem. But there is more to the picture. You might think you're protected by your home insurance and shrug off termite activity. Does homeowners insurance cover termite damage? Sadly, the answer is usually no. Your insurance company believes pest control is your responsibility as a homeowner, just like fixing leaky faucets. They won't cover damage that could have been prevented, and termite damage is completely preventable.
What Attracts Termites To Homes?
When considering how to prevent termite damage, it helps to know what can cause a termite problem, particularly if you don't have professional termite control installed. These attractants are equally important to address if you've discovered termites. When termites find food, something happens in the heart of the colony. The queen gets the signal that it is safe to create more offspring faster. Needless to say, that is not a signal you want to send. Removing the attractants can cause the opposite to happen. Reproduction can slow.
Here are a few factors you may address.
- If you collect dead branches and store them on the ground somewhere on your property, you'll create a perfect food source for termites. We strongly recommend putting any wood you collect from your property inside some kind of bin.
- If you have a junk pile on the ground, it may provide a food source for termites. These insects can eat more than just wood. Store junk in receptacles.
- If you have wooden ornaments and borders on the ground in your landscaping, termites can feed on them. It may look beautiful and rustic to use an old railroad tie to create flower beds, but decorative wood pieces like this are a delicious treat for termites.
- If you have a wooden deck with support beams that go down into the soil, termites can directly access your home without creating shelter tubes. Address all wood-to-ground contact to remove a quick meal for these wood-eating pests.
Termites are motivated by food. Controlling food can have a big impact on whether or not these pests will target your home. But, they can still enter your yard and apply pressure to your home without any food sources available in your yard. It is best to have proactive termite control installed.
Who Do I Call If I Think My Home Has A Termite Problem?
When you find warning signs of active termites, and you heed the warning, the next step is to consider termite control. The best termite control is one that overcomes the difficulty of detecting termites and also considers what attracts termites. The professional solution that ticks the boxes on both of these is termite bait, and the best professional-grade termite bait solution is The Sentricon® System with Always Active.
Termite Detection Made Simple: The Sentricon® System comes with bait stations that are inserted into the ground. These stations are routinely checked by your service provider. When termites take the bait, it is seen within the stations. When a station has had activity, your technician will find the bait missing or dead workers or soldiers inside the station. This kind of termite detection is priceless.
Termite Attractants: The Sentricon® System capitalizes on the fact that worker termites relentlessly search for food. They work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without stopping. On top of this, the bait developed for this system is scientifically proven to be more interesting to termites than wood. It has everything they need, and it takes far less work for workers to collect this bait than it does to chew on the wooden timbers inside your home. When they take the bait, they share it with the colony, and it leads to complete elimination.
If you're looking for professional pest control in Houston, contact Modern Pest Control for installation of the Sentricon® System. It is, by far, the best way to monitor termite activity and actively eliminate termite colonies as workers come and attempt to feed on the wood inside your home. It is also an award-winning termite control solution backed by many university studies and over two decades of real-world success. Reach out today for help with termites and to learn more about our residential and commercial pest control services in Houston. We look forward to helping you put the worry of termite damage behind you.