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Preventing Termites

For such tiny little critters, termites can leave a path of destruction costing thousands of dollars.
For such tiny little critters, termites can leave a path of destruction costing thousands of dollars.

Measuring just 1 centimeter in length, termites are hardly worthy of fright. But the sight of these little pests can cause terror because of their destructive habits. Termites can live full-bellied in your home without any signs of damage. They're eating habits could leave you with damage to your home's foundation, furniture, walls, floor boards and carpets. Only a professional will be able to assess the damage -- that has no doubt been done -- and get rid of the pests for good.

Of course, the best thing to do is prevent these "silent destroyers" before they find their way into your home. Termites thrive in areas with moisture, so the first thing to do is eliminate this essential ingredient from their environment. Make sure your home's faucets and pipes are in good repair; give your home's gutters and vents a regular cleaning to ensure they're clear and running smoothly; eliminate any standing water in your yard or on your roof; and don't over mulch your plantings, as this will trap moisture right where termites like it best -- around your home's foundation. And, while you're at it, get rid of any tempting termite food around the foundation of your home such as firewood or plant debris.

Besides these homegrown termite preventing measures, it's a good idea to hire an exterminator for professional preventative services. Adding this monthly pest control cost to your existing stack of bills may seem expensive, but it's not at all compared to the average claim for termite damage, which is about $3,000. Some more aggressive species of termites can cause 10 to 15 times that amount of damage.

To avoid an astronomical repair bill, you may want to look into a termite bond. A termite bond is a contract with a pest exterminator for preventative termite services coupled with insurance for any termite damage that occurs during the service period. In other words, if their services fail to prevent termites, they will pay for the damage that ensues. A termite bond can cost as little as $35 a month, but you should contact your local pest expert for a more accurate quote.

Finally, it's important to know what distinguishes termites from flying ants because the two look very similar – and flying ant are harmless and, well, as we've shown, termites are not. If you have an infestation, inspect one of the insects. If its wings are the same width from front to back, its middle section is broad and its antennae are straight, you should contact a professional immediately because chances are you have termites. If you're not sure, call a professional anyway.