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All About Termites: A Pest Prevention How-To Guide

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Termites are sneaky. Even though we often can’t see them, they’re working on expanding their colonies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their singular devotion to perpetual growth spells disaster for any businesses unfortunate enough to encounter the wood eaters. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, termites cause billions of dollars in structural damage each year.

If you want to defend against this potential damage (and you do--that’s billions, with a “b”), you’ll need to know a thing or two about termites. Specifically, you should know what they are, what they want, and how you can keep them from getting it. We want to help you prevent termite damage, which is why we put together this primer. Here’s all the info you need to keep termites from literally eating up your business:

What are termites?

There are over two thousand different species of termites worldwide and over forty species in the United States alone. Their appearances differ based on species, but they all look fairly similar to one another. Termites usually measure between one quarter and one half of an inch long. Their bodies are soft, ranging in color from white to light brown, and they have straight antennae. 

Termites feed off of the cellulose found in wood. In the process of feeding off of this cellulose, they hollow out tunnels through wood. They use these tunnels as colony living chambers, growing and expanding as they continue to eat. The more they eat, the faster the colony grows. The faster the colony grows, the more they eat. It’s easy to see why termites are such a problem for wooden structures everywhere.

What types of termites are common in New York?

There are 45 different species of termites in the continental United States. These varieties are divided into three main types with distinct biology and behaviors. These types are:

  • Subterranean: These are the most commonly encountered variety of termite in New York. They're also known for building the biggest nests of any termite (or insect for that matter!) in the US. These termites earn the name “subterranean” because they actually start their colonies underground and travel to wood through characteristic mud tubes. Sub-types found in New York include the eastern subterranean termite and the dark southeastern subterranean termite.
  • Drywood: Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites don't require contact with soil. Instead, they prefer to live and start colonies in wood directly. These termites are most common in the southern part of the country.
  • Dampwood: So-called “dampwood” termites require high moisture content to survive. They aren't found in manmade structures as frequently as other varieties because they can only reliably feed on damp wood. Plumbing leaks or particularly humid buildings may attract dampwood termites.

Subterranean termites are the most common termites in New York, but any of the three varieties could infest your business.

Termite Exclusion Tips

There are a number of ways to prevent termites from entering your home. These include:

  • Eliminating soil-to-wood contact. You want to minimize the chance of termites entering your home through this avenue. Remove any wood-like materials such as lumber, mulch, paper, and cardboard from near your foundation. Ideally, only the concrete portions of your foundation should touch soil. There should be at least six inches of space between soil and siding.
  • Making sure your storm drains empty no less than 24 inches from your building exterior. Keep damp soil away from the outer portion of your home. Moist soil draws pests like termites. 
  • Staying on top of plumbing maintenance. Moisture is one of the biggest draws for termites. Leaking pipes can create standing water that draws these pests in.
  • Using pine needles instead of mulch. Termites love mulch, but can’t eat pine needles. This is a small change you can make to limit the environmental draws for pests like termites.
  • Use a Basaltic Termite Barrier for all new structures. This is for builders who want to create new buildings that are protected against termites. The Basaltic Termite Barrier (BTB) is a packed-stone barrier between the foundation and adjacent soil.

Our last tip is to contact a professional commercial pest management company as soon as you suspect you have a termite infestation. A team like the one at Assured Environments will know exactly what to do. Not only can we remove existing infestations, but we can also prevent future problems. 

If you have any additional termite-related questions, give Assured Environments a call today. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and help keep your business safe from wood-gnawing pests now and in the future.

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