What Causes Termites?

Types of Termites

The three common types of home-invading termites, dampwood, drywood, and subterranean, are drawn to homes for different reasons. Most dampwood and drywood termites live inside the woods they eat, while subterranean termites mostly live in the ground and venture to and from the wood they consume back to their underground colony. Subterranean species are also most likely to live in large groups.

What Attracts Termites?

While all termites are attracted to wood, they each have specific preferences. As their names would suggest, dampwood and drywood termites seek out moist or dry woods respectively. Subterranean termites must have moist soil nearby and infest any wood that is in contact with the ground. In addition, subterranean termites will construct mud tubes they use to move from the soil to wood. Mud tubes in essence become a “link” for the termites to use in order to provide protection against dehydration and a route to wood that may be located above ground. Homeowners might unknowingly bring termites inside in firewood or untreated lumber.

In addition to wood inside the home, termites are drawn inside by moisture, wood in contact with house foundations, and cracks in building exteriors. Different combinations of these factors attract different species. Additionally, geographic location plays a role in how likely homeowners are to deal with infestations. Warm weather and consistent humidity make southern residents most likely to experience termite activity.

Moisture

Leaky pipes, improper drainage, and poor airflow all create moisture issues that attract termites. Dampwood and subterranean termites in particular thrive in humid environments. While dampwood termites prefer water-damaged wood, subterranean termites are unable to live unless surrounded by enough moisture.

Wood that’s in Contact with House Foundations

Since some species, like subterranean termites, need to move through wood or soil in order to get inside houses, having wood touching the foundation of homes makes those buildings susceptible to infestation. Mulch, overgrown shrubs, and firewood placed too close to homes are just some types of wood that grant termites access to structural wood.

Cracks in Building Exteriors

Any crack or fissure in home foundations or gaps in siding offer termites the opportunity to come inside. Subterranean species build mud tubes in these imperfections and use these to move indoors. Additionally, cracks around windows and doors allow swarmer termites of all species to get inside and start colonies.

How to Remove Termites

Homeowners can look for conditions around houses that are inviting to termites. Checking for high levels of moisture and reducing humidity in the home, as well as treating and covering any exposed wood in contact with the soil, helps prevent encounters. Examining building exteriors for broken window screens, imperfectly sealed plumbing lines, and cracked shingles and fascia boards helps limit termite access. However, contacting pest control experts is the best and most efficient way to effectively treat termite infestations and prevent further activity since DIY kits often do not work on large populations.