"You don't usually notice them until the damage is extensive. Termites may take up residence in a home for years-even decades- eating away at the structure from the inside out until the damage shows itself- hence the unsettling nickname "silent destroyers", says entomologist Ron Harrison, technical director for Orkin, Inc.
So how can you protect your investment from these crawly insects? Harrison offers these preventative measures:
- Keep moisture out. Use downspouts and gutters to divert water away from your home's foundation
- Store mulch, firewood, and wood chips away from home.
- Make sure shrubs, vines, and other plants aren't planted too close to the home and aren't covering vents
- Ventilate crawl spaces to reduce humidity
- Eliminate gaps and cracks in attic vents, window joints, and roof eaves.
- Remove old tree stumps and roots near home.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's web site provides information by state about areas most prone to termite damage. Go to www.hud.gov and search for "Termite Infestation Probability Zones".