For most of us, a home is the biggest, most important investment we’ll make over the course of our lives, and one of the most serious threats to our homes is a horde of tiny larva-like creatures called termites. Like ants, termites live in a cooperative fashion, meaning that they work in concert to survive, and they survive on “dead” wood, which is fine with we humans as long as the dead wood is a fallen tree or stump in the woods. But when the dead wood they’re after happens to be our homes, that’s another thing altogether!

Here’s a sobering fact to consider: Termites are considered the number one threat to wood-based structures, beating out fire, flooding and wind damage! In other words, they’re not to be taken lightly!

Termites swarm in the springtime, which is fast approaching, so now is a particularly good time to schedule a termite inspection to find out if your home is currently under attack, and if so, how much damage has already occurred. (By the way, if you actually see winged termites in or around your home, there’s a very good chance that the feast is already under way!)

What Does a Termite Inspection Entail?

A termite inspection usually doesn’t take longer than a half-hour to 45 minutes to complete, although that can vary depending on the size of your house and accessibility issues. The inspector will look for signs of termites. Because termites tunnel through wood, eating it from the inside out, it’s rare to see them at work. However, they leave plenty of clues for the trained eye to spot and confirm that they’re hard at work eating away at the beams in your house. Some of the signs your termite inspector will look for are

  • wood that sounds hollow
  • groups of winged “swarmers” or piles of wings they discard once they mate
  • cracked or otherwise distorted paint on wood surfaces
  • mud tubes on exterior walls (Termites build these tubes on foundations to provide moisture while they’re looking for food.)
  • frass (Drywood termites produce wood-colored droppings called frass as they eat their way through infested wood.)

Your Inspector’s Found Evidence of Termites. Now What?

Your inspector will recommend a plan based on the location of the infestation, the extent of the damage, and the type of termite doing the damage. (There are two types of termites in the U.S. — subterranean and drywood termites.) The customized treatment plan may include liquid non-repellents, wood treatment, and/or baits. The best treatment is Sentricon®, an environmentally safe treatment that’s designed to kill the entire colony — including the queen, who’s the source of the problem. Once the colony is eliminated, so is the problem. You may have to do a bit of searching to find a pest-control company that uses Sentricon®, since it’s offered only by pest professionals who’ve gone through special training in its use, and received certification from Sentricon® to use the product.

After Treatment – Proactive Prevention for Homeowners

There are also things that you can do to help protect your home from future termite infestations. They include

  • sealing cracks in your home’s foundation, near windows, roof siding and vents
  • storing wood chips, mulch and firewood away from your home to avoid creating moisture-rich habitats where termites can survive and thrive
  • keeping gutters, downspouts and crawl spaces free of debris and cellulose materials to deprive termites of a food source.

Be sure to partner with a trusted professional, licensed termite specialist for both a home inspection and treatment. In the Des Moines metro area, that professional is Miller Pest & Termite (affectionately known as “Miller the Killer”). We’ve been servicing the area for more than 15 years and are certified Sentricon® treatment providers. We’re also rated A+ by the Iowa BBB, and are the winners of the 2015 Angie’s List super service award. We’re also one of a small percentage of pest control companies that are members of Quality Pro, a distinction we’re very proud to claim! We service Ankeny, Ames, Urbandale, Johnston, West Des Moines, Clive, Indianola and other surrounding cities in the Des Moines metro area. Contact us today for a free inspection!