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Stopping Termites Before They Eat Your Investment

by Gabby Hyman
Repair-Home Columnist

Termites can eat you out of house and home. Pest control companies report that these wood-gnawing foot-soldiers and flying swarmers build colonies of up to a million insects in private homes. Their queens lay thousands of eggs each day. Termites love to eat cellulose, the common organic building block in wood. If you don't have termites in your home, keep it that way. If they're present, you may need to call in a contractor or pest control service.

Often called "white ants," termites are not ants at all, but avid consumers of dead plant material. They have small, stubby bodies usually smaller than one centimeter long. The subterranean and dry wood termites are the ones that love to hide out in the timbers of your home and set up a dining hall.

These days, most new homes are built with treated timber, termite-resistant foundation materials, and wall barriers. But even so, where a termite has a will, a colony has a way.

Preventing Termites and Fighting Back

It doesn't hurt to call in a pest control company annually for a termite inspection. And there are plenty of measures any homeowner can take to keep termites at bay.

Termites need water to thrive, so be sure to check your plumbing throughout your home for water leaks. Seal up any cracks in your foundation.

Drain or channel any standing water away from your house and move any mulch piles (great food and water sources for termites) that come in proximity with your walls. Remove all dead wood from your yard and consider relocating firewood that you store in a hamper adjacent to the house.

If you're adding a deck or hot-tub enclosure, ask your home improvement store specialist or local contractor about using treated wood and about constructing any addition on a concrete foundation that prevents all wood from touching the earth directly.

Termite Control Using Insecticide

Most pest control companies recommend a two-pronged attack on termites. They'll apply a liquid pesticide underneath your house and around the perimeter. Then they'll spread termite bait that the insects carry back to their colony. The bad news is that termite colonies are hearty and extremely tough to destroy. Persistent prevention as well as routine pest control may be the best course of action if you already have an infestation.

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.