The termites you're probably most familiar with are dampwood termites. They live in the soil, coming up to feed mostly on decaying and moist wood. If you keep your wood dry, you shouldn't have much trouble with them. But there's another type of termites to be aware of too. Drywood termites actually live in the wood, and they'll eat your home from the inside out if they have the chance to infest it. Here's how you can protect your home from these nasty critters.
Don't store firewood inside.
If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, make sure you don't store any firewood inside -- even for a short period of time. There may be drywood termites hiding in the wood, and they could crawl out and into your home's wooden structures. Keep wood outside until you're ready to burn it; the fire will incinerate any termites. Make sure your wood storage area is located far from your home so that if termites do take up residence in it, they can't easily migrate into your home.
Keep screens on your windows.
Unlike dampwood termites, which live their entire lives below ground, drywood termites go through a life stage in which they have wings. Known as swarmers, these winged termites can find their way into your home, take up residence in your wood and begin reproducing. If you live in an area where drywood termites are common -- such as in the southwestern United States -- make sure you keep screens on your windows during the warmest months when swarmers are around.
Seal exposed holes and cracks in wood.
Look over any exposed wood in your home very closely. If you see any cracks or holes, take time to fill them with some wood putty. Cracks and holes are attractive to drywood termites; they often serve as the entry point where the insects begin chewing away at and burrowing into the wood.
Keep painted wood chip-free.
Drywood termites usually won't bother painted wood. But if the paint starts chipping off, they will begin chewing away at the exposed wood. So, make sure you keep any painted wood in your home chip-free. Choose higher quality latex paint that's less likely to chip, and apply several thin coats rather than one thick one. At the first sign of chipping, paint over the chipped area -- or scrape and re-paint the entire item.
If you follow the tips above, you should greatly reduce your chances of a drywood termite infestation. If you do see signs of drywood termites, such as tiny fecal pellets and weakening wood with rough edges, contact an exterminator as soon as possible.
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