No one wants to think about termites, but think about them we must. Termites are wood-damaging pests that have the potential to total Tampa homes. But how common are termites and how destructive can they actually be? Today, we're going to start by answering these two questions, then we'll look at how to detect termite damage, what to do about termites when you find them, and how to keep termites away for good. If you have already found signs of termites in your home or on your property, and you are in need of professional termite pest control in Tampa, jump over to our contact page for assistance. Haskell Termite & Pest Control specializes in termite control and prevention. We can guide you toward the right solution for your home.
How Common Are Termites In Tampa?
In Tampa, it isn't a matter of if you'll have a termite problem, but a matter of when. The weather in Central Florida, particularly on the Gulf Coast, is conducive for several termite species. We have the worst of the worst. That's right Formosan subterranean termites, we're looking at you. If that isn't bad enough, there is a new threat on the horizon. Scientists are calling them super termites. They are the offspring of Formosan and Asian termites. We're not going to get into all that, but it is essential to understand the threat termites present to properties in Tampa. According to experts, termites do more damage in Florida than fires, floods, and hurricanes combined. Yup. That is as bad as it sounds. Every home should have a termite control plan. If you don't have a termite control plan yet, then we strongly encourage you to learn how to identify termite damage and other warning signs of a termite infestation. Don't worry, we're going to help you with this. Let's look at how to tell that you have a termite problem.
Homeowner's Guide To Identifying Termite Damage
There are many things that can damage the wood of your home. How can you tell that the damage you're seeing is being caused by termites? There are primarily three kinds of termites. Subterranean termites, drywood termites, and dampwood termites. Termite identification is helpful for locating and identifying termite damage.
- Subterranean termites typically live in the soil, but there are exceptions. When these termites get into the wood of your home, you're likely to see mud tubes or mud on wood surfaces. These insects bring soil into their tunnels and use soil and saliva to create mud structures or to patch holes in tunnel walls. You'll find mud patches on soft wood because subterranean termites prefer wood that is soft. The damage caused by these termites is gritty to the touch.
- Drywood termites attack homes by air. They don't have contact with the soil. Once inside your home, they'll hide from view. When you see a hole created by drywood termites, you're likely to see frass, which is termite droppings. These droppings will be the color of the wood the termites are eating and hard like wood pellets. Drywood termites feed on hardwood, such as door and window frames, baseboards, and furniture. The damage caused by these termites is smooth to the touch.
- Dampwood termites are similar to subterranean termites in that they feed on soft wood and they are similar to drywood termites in that they produce frass. When you find damage caused by dampwood termites in soft wood, the damage will not be gritty, like subterranean termite damage. It will be smooth, like drywood termite damage.
When you find damage caused by termites, you may also see the termites hiding inside the wood, or hear clicking sounds made by soldier termites. But, even if you don't know the damage is termite damage, you'll want to do something. It is not good to have any organism eating away at the wood of your home.
What To Do When You Find Termite Damage
Termites are silent pests. They feed on properties in Tampa for years without being detected. If you find evidence of termite damage or warning signs of termites on your property, contact a certified termite control professional. Termites can eat you out of house and home. Literally. The primary issue with DIY termite control is that property owners don't know when their control efforts fail. There is nothing worse than going through the hassle of applying termite control only to find out years later that termites continued to damage your home. It costs more to hire a certified termite control professional, but you get what you pay for. The products and methods used by professionals are known to work.
Three Things You Can Do To Avoid Future Termite Infestations
Once a certified termite professional has addressed your termite infestation and the termites are gone, what can you do to avoid future termite infestations? We have three suggestions.
1. Perform Routine Inspections
While termites are incredibly sneaky, there are ways to tell if you have active termites in your yard. We recommend performing an annual inspection or having a licensed professional do this for you. Here are a few warning signs to consider.
- Workers. Termite workers are ⅛ of an inch long and pale in color. These insects look like fat ants. You may see them when you pick up dead branches in your yard or when you move wood sources, such as scrap wood and campfire timbers.
- Tubes. Subterranean termites create these mud structures on foundation walls, brick steps, and other hard surfaces. Look for them in voids underneath structures and in your crawlspace if you have one.
- Sounds. You may hear clicking or rustling noises inside wood if you have termites. You may also check wood timbers to see if they sound hollow.
- Swarmers. These are winged termites. They are black or orange, depending on the species. Swarmers are about ⅜ of an inch long and have long white wings that are rounded at the tips. We say long, but the wings are part of the ⅜ inches. If a swarmer lands on your skin while you're in your yard, you're not likely to pay much attention to it.
- Wings. Termite swarms last less than an hour. After they mate, you may find shed wings on your property. Look for these on the ground, on the wood of your deck, and in spider webs.
- Frass. Look for this material leaking out of cracks and gaps in hardwood or attached to softwood. It looks like pepper.
- Damage. The damage caused by termites is mostly on the inside of wood, but you may see splintering or notice trenching in dark and humid areas. When drywood termites feed on baseboards, honeycomb dents may start to appear.
Detecting termites early can prevent extensive damage. While not the best way to guard your property, it is better to do something than nothing at all.
2. Protect Your Property
You don't have to see termites to do something to protect your property. There are many ways to guard against termite damage.
- Remove termite food sources. When you collect branches in your yard, store them in a plastic bin rather than on the ground. Store stacked wood on rubber mats or some other material termites can't chew through. Never put piles of cardboard on the ground. Termites love cardboard and paper.
- Address wood-to-soil contact. If you have wood deck posts that go into the ground, a wood skirting on your home to protect a crawl space, or some other building material that touches the soil, try to alter these conditions. For example, consider putting your deck posts on concrete piers.
- Address moisture problems. Damp conditions on your property can attract the attention of subterranean and dampwood termites. Make sure your gutter system is working properly. A blocked or damaged gutter can lead to perimeter saturation.
- Seal potential entry points. Drywood and dampwood termites don't need contact with the soil. Inspect your property and seal any gaps, cracks, or holes these insects can use to infiltrate your home. The tools for this job are cans of expanding foam and a caulking gun.
Applying these tips can have a big impact but ultimately they are no replacement for a professional pest control treatment.
3. Hire A Professional
You knew it was coming. Professional termite control with trusted products like Termidor are proven to prevent termite damage. When applied by a certified professional and properly maintained, you control how much you will allow termites to cost you. There are no surprises after you've retired and when you are looking to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You can add a line item to your budget that says, "termite protection." It is as simple as that.
If you're in Tampa, contact Haskell Termite & Pest Control for a termite treatment or termite inspection. When doing inspections, we provide a wood-destroying organism (WDO) report that you can give to your realtor or real-estate agent. We specialize in termite control because termites in Tampa aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
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