Home & Garden

Home checklist: Termites can cause big trouble

Have you seen this pest? It’s termite season, so look out!

Sunday starts National Termite Awareness Week, time for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) to remind us about the threat these voracious critters represent to our homes.

Termites eat 24 hours a day. One colony of hungry termites produces one cup of sawdust every two hours. It takes less than two years for a colony of Formosan termites to consume the structure of an entire house.

According to pest experts, termites represent one of the biggest threats to your house, and damage often is not insured. Usually, termites are discovered only through remodeling or when a home is sold.

Here are some more termite facts to munch on:

• Termites are known as “silent destroyers.” Because they eat quietly out of sight, you don’t realize the damage until it’s too late. In California, one of the most common species is Formosan termites. They live in huge underground colonies with an average of 350,000 workers. In addition to structures, they also infest trees, shrubs, utility poles, timber, railroad trusses and boats.

• Winter weather may slow termites down, but it doesn’t knock them out. Watch out for moisture build-up in walls, which lures termites.

• Termite damage is typically not covered by homeowners’ insurance, leaving consumers with costly repairs should their home become infested.

• A simple home inspection may not be enough to spot termite trouble. According to the NPMA, home buyers should obtain a “wood destroying organism” (WDO) inspection separate from their home inspection.

• Don’t wait to sell your house to get it inspected. Homeowners should have a termite inspection performed at least every three years, said the NPMA.

For more information on termites, visit http://www.pestworld.org/.

– Debbie Arrington