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What Is in Your Backyard that Can Attract Termites?

Spring is in the air, and that means flowers blooming, April showers, and longer days. It also signifies the start of breeding season for subterranean termites. This species of termites expands its colonies in the spring with flying swarmers.

Swarmers are winged termites, which many people mistake for flying ants. If you notice swarmers in your backyard, near your home, or even in your home, then you need to contact a termite exterminator right away.

flying-ants

The last thing you want to do is ignore the problem and hope it goes away on its own. With termites, this is not going to happen, and you will need to take action to resolve the infestation. Otherwise, you could be among the numerous homeowners who have to spend thousands to tens of thousands of dollars to repair their homes.

Part of the reason for so much damage is because many homeowners believe their homes are safe because they think there is nothing in their backyard that can attract termites. To avoid making this mistake yourself, let’s look at some different things that can attract termites and some things you can do to lower the risks of home infestations.

Do you have wood piles stored near or against the home?

Wood-burning fireplaces and outdoor fire tables/pits are great things to have to warm up the home and enjoy the outdoors on cooler evenings. Many people like stacking their wood next to their home so it is easy to access. This is never a good idea. The wood gets damp and wet, which can attract termites.

If you need to store firewood, it is better to store it off of the ground. You may want to invest in a firewood storage box with a closing lid/doors. The box should be elevated off the ground. The box itself can be made from treated lumber, but any support posts should be metal. Another option is to store the wood on a concrete pad far away from the home in a storage box.

wood-piles-stored

Do you use any type of wood mulch to landscape flower beds and other areas around the home?

Wood mulch is still wood, and it will still attract termites. The mulch will get wet and damp and rot. Termites will be attracted to this and will aid in the decomposition of the mulch. In fact, this is a termite’s primary function and why they eat wood. If left alone in nature, termites help with the decomposition of dead, dying, and rotting wood and help break it down to make way for new vegetation.

Yet, when it comes to our homes and property, termites cannot tell the difference. Your home and the wood mulch you use to decorate the landscaping are just as attractive to termites as a tree that fell over in the woods.

A better solution is to use recycled rubber tires in place of wood mulch. The rubber functions similarly to wood mulch, but it does not attract termites. For instance, when used in flower beds, the rubber mulch will help the ground retain moisture so you will not need to water your flowers as often.

flower-beds

Does any of the wood on your wooden privacy fence come into contact with the ground?

If your home has a wooden privacy fence, you need to verify how the support posts were put into the ground. If holes were dug and support posts simply set in place, where they touch the dirt, they can attract termites. In addition, if the bottom of the fence sits directly on the ground, it, too, can attract termites.

Even though the wood was pressure treated and you paint or stain your fence annually to help keep it protected, there are certain areas you just cannot reach. Over time, the pressure treatment wears off and the wood starts to rot and decay. Eventually, if termites are nearby, they will discover the fence, and it then becomes a new source of food.

If you are installing a wooden fence or you are making repairs, you want to make sure the support posts are set in concrete and do not directly touch dirt. The fencing sections should be elevated off the ground at least three to six inches and never sit directly on the ground.

If you want the fence to sit directly on the ground, you need to use metal framing on the bottom to act as a barrier between the wood and the ground. Another option is to pour a concrete border that is as wide as the fence and to install the fence on top of the concrete.

wooden-privacy-fence

Do your wooden decks or deck supports come into contact with the ground?

Just like wooden privacy fences, wooden decks can attract termites if any of their wooden parts are in direct contact with the ground. You need to check that the support posts are set in concrete and that the deck is elevated off the ground to at least six inches or higher.

If the deck is attached to the home, there should not be any exposed wood that has not been painted or stained. The pressure treatment will eventually wear off, and termites will discover this new source of food. To help keep your deck and home termite free, make annual termite inspections part of your spring cleaning routine!

Are there any dead, rotting, or decaying trees, shrubs, or bushes in your backyard?

If you have a tree that is dying or one that recently fell over, you need to remove it from the property as soon as possible. If you wait and do nothing, termites will start to feast on it. At this point, it is best to leave the termites alone. If you remove their food source, they will simply search out a new one.

You will also want to call your termite exterminator to bait around the termite-infested tree, shrub, or bush. The baits are designed to attract termites. They will carry part of the bait back to the main colony and share it with other termites. Eventually, they will feed the bait to the queen, and the colony will slowly die out.

Won’t termites die out naturally if I remove all wood from the backyard?

Even if you remove all trees, shrubs, and bushes and install a metal fence, termites could still be a problem. If there are existing colonies in the yard, removing food sources does not kill the colony.

Instead, they will travel further to find food. As a result, you could inadvertently cause termites to seek out your home since you removed their other food sources. The thing to remember is that termites will eat any type of wood they can find. Once they get into your home, not only will they eat the wooden supports and structures of the home, but also cabinetry, baseboards, hardwood flooring, pressboard, and books!

remove-wood-from-backyard

Will treating my backyard keep my home safe from termite infestations?

Having your backyard treated for termites is a great preventative measure to help protect your home. However, it does not mean your home will be 100% safe from termite infestations. You do need to have annual termite inspections to ensure it is termite-free.

Here in California, just like other areas of the country, there are different species of termites. Two of the more common ones are subterranean termites and drywood termites. Subterranean termites live in the ground and are the ones you will typically find in your backyard.

Drywood termites do not need to live in the ground to survive. This species of termite is attracted to dry wood. Your home is made of plenty of dry wood for them to eat. Unlike their subterranean relatives, they build their colonies inside the dry wood they are consuming.

A third species of termites we have here in California are called Pacific Dampwood termites. This species also does not need to live in the ground, as long as the moisture level in the wood they are eating is high enough.

Dampwood termites are normally a problem for people living along the coast, where humidity and dampness are much higher than inland. They will destroy wooden piers, beach homes, and even wooden boats! However, this species has also been found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, infesting cabins and other such structures.

termite-infestations

Keep in mind, termites can be found anywhere there is a regular supply of wood. Removing wood when it is already infested does not get rid of the problem—nor does removing all sources of food when there are established colonies. The only effective way to protect your home against termites is to treat your backyard and have your home inspected annually by a qualified termite exterminator.

To schedule an inspection of your backyard and home or to arrange termite treatment if you know you have termites, please feel free to contact MightyMite Termite Services at 408.335.7053 today! We offer a variety of different treatment methods to help protect your Bay Area home.