By: Randy Pope
Mankind needs termites. Mankind hates termites. Whether these little creatures are our “friend” or “foe” will depend on whether these guys are eating on your home or helping clear out underbrush in your natural wooded areas. In everything there is always a line between beneficial and destructive. This holds true with termites. Unfortunately, for termites, this is a very broad line. Termites cause an estimated $5 billion dollars in structural damage every year in the United States. However, termites are one of nature’s greatest custodians. They are important decomposers. Termites break down tough plant fibers, recycling dead and decaying trees into new soil. These hungry insects are vital to the health of our forests.
As they tunnel, termites also aerate and improve the soil. It just so happens that we build our homes from termite food—wood. Generally speaking, we invade their homes well before they invade ours. So, I guess we would be what one could call a “frienemy” (friend-enemy conjunction). Like many marriages, sometimes we can’t live with them and other times we can’t live without them. Again, your perspective is normally driven by whether you have ever had to pay for damages related to their handiwork.
Before you can determine whether these little cellulose eaters are your friend or foe,
you must be able to understand how to identify termite damage, termite activity, conducive conditions, and what termites look like. The average person can easily mistake one or all identifiers, so it’s best left to someone who is experienced and well trained to determine if a structure has termite activity.
Here are some basics to help:
Again, this is only some very general information about termites. If you suspect that your structure may have these unwanted visitors, then finding an expert to make this determination is always your safest option.
As started above, one of the biggest issues that homeowners face are the conducive conditions around their home. The good news is that you are in control of these conditions and can correct them if you choose to. Termites need three things to survive: moisture, food, and protection. When these conditions are present, then termite activity can, not only be present, but can thrive. So, we should try to eliminate such conditions so that we can reduce the possibility of termite activity around or in our homes. Here’s an abbreviated list of items to be on the watch for, and to try to correct, if you really wish to reduce your risk of termite issues:
Well, there’s only two approaches in dealing with termites. One cannot just decide to either take a “proactive” or “reactive” approach either. The approach will be predicated on the findings of a thorough termite inspection of the structure.
Regardless which approach that you take for your home, just remember to have it inspected annually by a reputable professional. Your home is your largest investment, keeping it safe from termite damages is such a small cost to consider for the protection it will receive. Catching issues before they occur could save you a lot of money down the road. The ultimate goal is to provide you the peace of mind to know that termites will not be your home’s foe, all while they can continue to be nature’s friend.