(BPT) - Termites live to eat. Their hunger causes $5 billion worth of damage each year in the U.S., damage most homeowner's insurance doesn't cover. In fact, a colony can devour a foot of 2-by-4 wood in only six months. And since termites are masters at going undetected, they can destroy entire support beams before you discover their presence. That's why it's so important to know what to look for.
The warning signs of termites
Most termite species like to stay underground and within walls, where it's dark and damp. Here are some signs to look for:
* Mud tubes - The easiest sign to detect. These pencil-width paths lead from a nest directly into your home and make it easy for termites to avoid sunlight. Check the surrounding land, any crawl spaces and your basement.
* Swarms - Reproductive termites grow wings and fly during spring and fall. Check for this type of termite and the wings they shed.
* Piles - Drywood termites leave sawdust-like piles around windowsills and cracks in woodwork or beams. You might also see what looks like collections of dirt at the base of walls and in corners.
* Weakened wood - Long, thin cracks and sagging can be signs that wood has been hollowed out by termites. (Holes in wood are not commonly caused by termites, and may be a sign of beetles or carpenter ants.)
What a termite control professional can do for you
Termite professionals have years of experience and expertise when it comes to using the right treatment method for your unique situation. Different techniques are required based on the location of termite activity, the type of foundation you have and even the number of porches and patios. And just because the obvious signs of an infestation aren't there, such as mud tunnels or splitting wood, it doesn't mean that termites aren't. There are a number of professional termite control products on the market today, including DuPont Altriset. It works by paralyzing the mouths of termites within hours of exposure, stopping further damage immediately.
Your risk and how to reduce it
Risk level varies, largely depending on where you live. However, there are common measures that will make your home less appetizing to termites.
* Termites like moisture - Eliminate water in gutters and puddles or any other areas where water might gather on or near your home. Repair any plumbing or drainage problems. Laying down plastic barriers in crawl spaces, basements and attics will help keep them dry.
* Don't provide termites with extra food - Remove lumber or freestanding wood from the base of your home. Don't plant trees too close and clip away any vegetation, such as shrubs, that might be touching the foundation or walls.
* Damp spots and cracks are an open invitation - Check outdoor faucets and gutters for leaks and ventilate humid crawl spaces. Repair cracks and holes in the foundation with caulk, closing off termite entry.
* Don't take any chances - Have your home inspected each year by a professional. It doesn't take long and can mean early detection - saving you time and money.
A smart way to protect your investment
By mimicking a substance found in certain tree bark, DuPont Altriset paralyzes the mouths of termites to stop them from feeding within hours of exposure. It also clings to their bodies undetected and enhances social behavior so that it is spread quickly throughout the colony. Your home is termite-free within three months and protected for years to come. To learn more about how Altriset works and how it can help protect your home, visit Altriset.com
. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to termites.