Termites cost homeowners in the U.S. over 5 billion dollars each year.
They are one of the most expensive and difficult household pests to eliminate.
So, when it comes to termites, prevention is undoubtedly better than cure.
In this article, we’ll go over everything that attracts termites into your home so you can keep them away.
Quick Navigation: What's in This Guide?
- 1. Poor Drainage
- 2. Wood in Direct Contact With Soil
- 3. Cracks in The Foundation or structure of the home
- 4.Improper Storage of Firewood and woodpiles
- 5. Using Mulch Near Your Foundation
- 6. Using Foam board insulation
- 7. Leftover Construction Debris
- 8. Warmth
- 9. Untrimmed Vegetation
- 10. Clogged Gutters
- 11. Unmaintained Basement
- 12. Dead Trees and Stumps
- 13. Cellulose materials
- 14. The region you live in
- 15. High Humidity
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Does Light Attract Termites?
1. Poor Drainage
Subterranean termites need moisture to survive. They love and thrive on wet soil.
To prevent termites, make sure to keep moisture away from your home with proper drainage systems. Here’s how:
- Look for any leaky plumbing and make sure to get them repaired.
- Make sure your rain gutters, downspouts, and splash blocks are functioning properly. They should keep the water at least five feet minimum from your foundation wall.
- Keep any dripping water from your air conditioning away from your foundation.
- Make sure your yard is designed to let the water flow away from your home when it rains. If that isn’t the case, contact a yard drainer professional to get your yard graded properly.
- Fix uneven concrete that causes water to pool in one area during rainstorms.
You can also keep moisture away by using moisture meters.
Moisture meters read the moisture level in your home.
This way, you’ll know if your moisture levels might lead to termite infestation.
The standard acceptable moisture levels for exterior wood in most states range from 9% to 14%.
Any moisture reading above that range is likely too much and could attract termites.
2. Wood in Direct Contact With Soil
Any wood that’s in direct contact with soil gives subterranean termites easy access to it.
That’s because soil exposes the wood to moisture, which causes it to rot. Rotting is easy for a termite to penetrate and eat.
Remove any point where there is soil-to-wood contact in your home.
Make sure to keep wood sidings, fences, decks, doors, and window framing above ground level.
These should never touch the soil because termites can penetrate them and tunnel underneath them.
Posts and stairs planted in concrete are also susceptible to rotting and termite infestation. That is because they penetrate through the concrete and into the soil.
Removing wood-to-soil contact may require removing soil back from the foundation, cutting the bottom off the wood or applying a barrier.
A simple barrier to prevent soil from coming into contact is a great way to prevent termites from coming in contact.
This can involve placing a waterproof substance between the wood and the soil.
I also recommend using pressure-treated wood, particularly in posts and stairs, for added protection.
You can also prevent termites from penetrating your wood with soil treatment.
3. Cracks in The Foundation or structure of the home
Even the smallest cracks in a foundation can provide termites access to get inside your home.
Termites are tiny and can fit through crevices as thin as cardstock paper.
Subterranean termites look underground for a food resource.
Often, they would feed on buried wood.
But if they find cracks on your foundation, they will use it to build mud tubes and move indoors.
To avoid this, make sure to seal up any gaps in the foundation in your home.
4.Improper Storage of Firewood and woodpiles
It’s common for homeowners to stack firewood against their homes so they can easily access them.
But doing so also gives termites easy access to your home.
While termites live within the soil, their workers will penetrate and feed into firewood.
And when you stack firewood against your house, you give termites a way to expand their feeding into your home.
To keep termites from entering through firewood, make sure to store them properly.
Store your firewood at least 20 feet away from your home and keep them off the ground.
Other than firewood, you’ll also want to keep woodpiles away from your home. These include dead stumps and fallen branches.
Finally, remove any rotting wood from your property. These are perfect sources of food for termites.
5. Using Mulch Near Your Foundation
Homeowners typically use mulch in their gardens to control weed, improve the fertility of the soil, and make the area visually attractive.
Unfortunately, termites too are attracted to mulch.
Layers of mulch trap moisture and insulates against harsh temperatures.
These features make mulch the perfect shelter for termites.
To keep termites away, minimize the use of wood mulch in your home.
Also, keep mulch away from your wood siding, door, window framing, and foundation.
Another preventative method you can do is to use mulch that naturally repels termites such as redwood, melaleuca, cypress, and cedar mulch.
6. Using Foam board insulation
While you generally won’t find termites in fiberglass insulation, you’ll find them in foam board insulation.
They are especially common if the foam board goes beneath the walls.
That’s because foam board insulation provides termites protection and an easy way to travel.
Termites tunnel through the foam and create highways that make it easy to find and consume wood.
Foam board insulation also retains moisture and provides insulation for termites to thrive.
So while termites don’t eat foam board insulation, they will mine through it for protection, insulation, and easy access to wood.
7. Leftover Construction Debris
Sawdusts and other wooden debris are often buried and forgotten on-site after construction.
But these seemingly innocuous scraps are the perfect food for termites.
Unfortunately, once the termites are finished with them, they’ll move on to other more essential wood in your home.
To prevent termites, make sure to dispose of any debris from wood.
Termites are cold-blooded and need warmth to thrive.
This is why termites are less active during winter. They spend most of the season deep underground.
Any consistent source of heat and humidity creates the perfect living condition for termites.
To keep termites away, make sure to ventilate warm, humid areas in your home, such as crawl spaces and attics.
You’ll especially want to do this during the summer months.
9. Untrimmed Vegetation
Having overgrown tree branches touching your roof creates a perfect bridge between termites and your home.
They can use the tree limbs and leaves to transport into your home and begin feeding.
Overgrown trees can also block sunlight and prevent moisture on your roof from drying out. And we all know how much termites love moisture.
To avoid termites, make sure to trim your trees regularly so that they are not touching the home.
You’ll also want to keep your shrubs and vines well maintained.
Prevent any vines and shrubs coming in contact with your siding as they can be a bridge for termites.
10. Clogged Gutters
Clogged gutter provides termites with an immediate source of food and water.
The excess moisture also rots your roof, providing easy access for termites to penetrate your home.
To avoid termites, make sure to clean your gutters.
Remove any twigs and leaves build-up to prevent your roof from getting soft.
11. Unmaintained Basement
Termites thrive in the dark, moist areas, making your basement the perfect shelter.
They also thrive on cellulose, which includes newspapers, boxes, cardboards and clothes. All of which are commonly found in basements.
To avoid termites, make sure to keep your basement organized and clean. Remove anything unnecessary.
The less stuff you have, the less food for termites.
You’ll also want to inspect your basement for any holes and crevices regularly.
Seal any cracks and damage, especially around the foundation and corners of the walls.
Remember, termites can crawl through the tiniest holes. So, you can’t be too careful here.
12. Dead Trees and Stumps
Termites love rotting wood. It has the two things that termites need to survive: moisture and cellulose.
To avoid termites, remove any dead trees in your yard.
You don’t want to have termites nesting anywhere near your home.
13. Cellulose materials
Termites will eat anything that has cellulose. That includes wood, newspaper, towels, cardboard, and books.
To keep termites away, keep your home clean and organized.
Remove anything that you do not need. The less stuff you have, the less food available for termites.
Make sure you store your clothes and books dry and clean.
If you store them in your attic or basement, use proper ventilation to keep termites away.
14. The region you live in
Termites love warm, humid environments.
You can find termites in every state in the US except Alaska.
They are also more abundant in some states than others.
Below is a map of the distribution of termites in the US.
If you live in these areas, your house is at a higher risk of termite infestation.
15. High Humidity
High-humidity gives termites the perfect environment to thrive.
It provides them the moisture they need to survive and make their food more comfortable to consume.
High humidity causes the surrounding wood to absorb moisture, soften, and rot.
Rotting wood is an ideal source of food for termites because they are easy to penetrate and eat.
When possible, reduce the humidity in and around your home.
One of the main reasons for the high humidity inside your home is improper ventilation. High humidity is most common in attics and crawl spaces.
16. Overused Humidifier
Humidifiers are great for healthy skin, lips, and throat.
Some humidifiers even allow you to add aromatic oils to make your home both humid and fragrant.
Unfortunately, too much humidity also attracts termites.
To keep termites away, minimize your use of humidifiers.
Smaller home humidifiers don’t produce significant humidity and are unlikely to cause an issue.
Just make sure to position them away from wood walls, cabinets, and furniture to prevent water damage.
Whole-house humidifiers should be used with caution.
Overusing whole-house humidifiers can cause mold and damage the wood around your home.
This excess moisture and damaged wood will attract termites.
To be sure, you can purchase a hygrometer to check the humidity levels in your home.
The suggested humidity level is around 30 to 40 percent. Anything beyond that is too much.
17. Humid Crawlspaces
Humid crawl spaces are the perfect environment for termites.
They love the moisture and the abundance of cellulose in your wood foundations.
Standard building coder requires 1 square foot of vent for every 150 square feet of crawl space.
Make sure your crawlspace is following this standard.
There are two things you can do to reduce the humidity in your crawlspace.
- Add Vents
- Use a Vapor Cover
A vapor barrier involves applying a a vinyl or foil barrier to the floor and walls of your crawlspace.
This barrier will reduce the amount of humidity that accumulates from the soil and keep your foundation as dry as possible.
It will also reduce the amount of vents you need in your crawlspace, with around 1 square foot of vent for every 300 square feet of crawl space.
Also be sure that vents are not covered by debris because this can reduce their effectiveness.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What are the signs that you have termites?
- Flying Termites Or Swarmers
Flying termites, also known as Alates, are typically the first sign of termite infestation.
That’s because most termites hide inside the wood or soil.
But flying termites will go out in the open to mate.
- Discarded Wings
Swarms don’t last long. In some cases, discarded wings are one of the only signs that a swarm happened.
- Dead Flying Termites
Flying termites swarm to leave the nest, reproduce and start a new colony.
But most are expected not to survive, especially when swarming indoors.
- Mud Tubes
A mud tube is made of subterranean termite droppings, soil, saliva, and wood.
They are typically the first indication of Subterranean termites infestation.
- Pallets/ Frass
Pellets or frass are a sign of Drywood termite infestation.
They are Drywood droppings that look a lot like sand or sawdust.
Drywood termites use “kick-out” holes to remove pellets from their tunnels.
If you have an infestation, you may find small piles of pellets near these kick-out holes.
Dampwood termites use their droppings to seal entry points from the outside world.
Dampwood patches look like damaged holes covered with dried mud.
- Hollow Wood
Termites devour wood from the inside out, leaving a weak shell.
As such, when you knock on an area that has termite damage, it will sound hollow.
- Noises In Your Walls
Sometimes you’ll be able to hear them eating if you place your ear against your walls.
- Bubbling Paint
Termites seal cracks in wood to create the ideal high humidity environment.
This moisture causes paint to form a bubble.
- Damaged Wood
When termites feed on wood, they leave it looking hollow or caved in.
You may also notice rotting wood on termite-infested areas.
- Hard To Open Doors And Windows
Termites seal cracks and holes on the wood to trap heat and moisture.
This causes wood to warp and makes it challenging to open doors and windows.
- Termite Cement
Termites seal cracks with their droppings to create the perfect moist environment.
To do this, they turn their droppings into a mud-like cement.
Resource: Top 13 Signs You Have Termites
Does Light Attract Termites?
Light will attract flying termites. But the rest of the termite colony will avoid light at all costs.
Flying termites, also known as Alates, are typically the first sign of termite infestation.
That’s because most termites hide deep inside the wood or soil.
But Alates go out in the open during a swarm.
“Swarming” describes an event where mass termites gather to start a new colony.
You’ll see flying termites near windows, porch lamps, doors, and light fixtures during a swarm.
What kind of wood attracts termites?
Like us, termites prefer certain foods over others.
They find some types of woods, such as teakwood and redwood, to be unappetizing.
And they perceive others to be particularly satisfying.
Their favorite wood is one that’s dead and rotting.
Termites also have a natural preference for certain species of wood.
In one study, they show that termites especially prefer Douglas Fir and Southern Pinewood.
Other types of wood that termites love are Oak, Spruce, and Hemlock.
While avoiding these woods will not necessarily keep termites away, it will prevent termites from destroying your home faster than they should.
Do termites like swimming pools?
While you won’t find termites floating on swimming pools, they are attracted to the moisture around it.
The water and moisture can seep through small cracks in the foundation of your pool.
Or after using the pool, the water the accumulates around the pool often seeps into the concrete and into the soil below.
This will attract termites to the soil around your home and eventually as they search for sources of food they will find your home.
One way to prevent water from leaking through the foundation of your pool is using a pool liner.
A pool liner will act as a seal between the water and concrete foundation of your pool.
You won’t need to worry about look for cracks or holes in the foundation of your pool because a pool liner will seal these up for you.
What Trees attract Termites?
Termites are attracted to dead and rotting trees.
In most situations, termites don’t attack a tree unless they are dying.
Subterranean termites, however, have been known to attack live trees as well as dead trees.
If you find termite attacking a live tree it might be worth asking a professional to look at the health of your tree.