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Termites: How to recognize, prevent and fix the problem

by Kelly Leighton on

Termite infestations cost homeowners $3,000 on average in repairs a year. Across the U.S., residents spend about $5 billion annual to squash termite problems or repair termite damage, which affects 600,000 homes each year.

Jennifer Brumfield, Western Pest Services entomologist, is here to offer advice to help your homeowners avoid this potentially expensive and invasive problem.

Brumfield said the top sign of a termite infection is the presence of swarmers. “They look like a winged ant, except the wings and antennae are different,” she explained. “You will often see a lot of wings. They’re very translucent.”

Another sign of termites are mud tubes, which help termites travel and protect them from predators. Brumfield said some homeowners notice damaged wood, which are another sign of termites. “Sometimes, people will be gardening this time of year, and may find some termites right there,” she said.

Brumfield said homes most susceptible to termite infestations are structures with wood-to-ground contact, and those with siding that goes directly into the ground. “Its easy to bury that siding,” she said. “If you can’t see the foundation, termites can now come out of the mulch and get into a structure. The grading has to flow away, so make sure you know how the water flows.”

She also said rubble wall foundation makes homes more vulnerable to termites, as do brick foundations.

“Consumers should be diligent with inspections,” she said. “Get rid of wood-to-ground contact and remove any tree stumps or similar things in the ground.” She also said it’s beneficial to use landscaping gravel instead of mulch and keep firewood piles away from the structure.

Those searching for their dream home, along with their Realtors®, should feel comfortable knowing their home inspectors are trained to search for termites, termite infestation or past termite infestation.

And if a client does find a termite infestation, Brumfield said to avoid the do-it-yourself method. “There is no over-the-counter product for termites that will get rid of them. Call a professional.”


Comments (2)


  • Peter Muehlbronner    May 1, 2018 | 9:59 am

    Some good points here, however, many home inspectors are NOT trained or qualified to perform the Wood Destroying Insect Infestation Inspection (WDII or “Termite Inspection”). Make sure to ask the inspector for credentials and proper licensing (they should have a BU# and Applicators#). The best credential for such an inspection is the Accredited Wood Destroying Insect Inspector (AWDII) which is above the standard pest control designations (not many inspectors go the extra yard to obtain this credential – but they should). Also – use an inspector that does not personally perform treatment – so there is no conflict of interest. I just heard a story the other day about a pest control service company finding termites in the remote woods behind the home, told the buyer the house needs to be treated, and killed the deal…. total sales job! The insects must be infesting the HOUSE for it to be considered significant in a real estate transaction.

    Reply to Peter Muehlbronner

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