Insect Note Logo with NCSU Brand and insect note mast Cooperative Extrension logoResidential,Structural
    & Community Pests
Department of Entomology
Insect Notes

Home maintenance and improvements add to the appearance and value of your home. Maintenance is critical to eliminating and preventing conditions that are conducive to termite activity in or around homes. Even the best maintained homes can have termite problem at some point. An inspection by a pest control professional is the best way to head off these problems before they cause serious and expense damage. Even if these inspections are not done annually, you should make it a point to conduct your own "mini-inspections" during routine maintenance chores. A good inspection includes looking not only for termites, but also for conditions conducive to their activity.

Here are some tips on how to look for and to avoid termite problems:

Mulches & Gardening Firewood Foundation drains
Exterior Inspections Interior Inspections Crawlspace Inspections
Foundation Protection (new construction)    


pine straw mulch covering the base of the exterior wallAll mulches, even inorganic ground covers such as gravel or black plastic, help to maintain moist soil conditions and to reduce weeds. Moisture in the soil may attract termites to the area and cellulose-containing mulches may be eaten by termites. This doesn't mean you should avoid using mulch around your home and in your gardens. Never spread mulch so that it touches the foundation or lowest course of siding on your home. While it may have a nicer appearance this way, it can allow termites to use the cover of mulch to invade your house undetected.

landscaping touching the sidingProtect your siding
Siding should always be at least 6 inches (preferably higher) above the grade or soil line; otherwise, you could have decay problems as well as termite problems. Never allow flower beds and other gardening to cover the siding. Never dig up the soil up within 12 inches of the house. This is the area that was treated for termites. Digging up the soil or putting new topsoil over this area allows termites to bridge the treated soil and access your foundation. You need to be able to inspect the foundation for signs of termite activity.

 shrubsPlan your plants' future
When planting shrubs, you need to think about how large the plants will be in 10-15 (or more) years not just in terms of their height but also how wide they'll grow. Do not plant shrubs too close to the foundation. Shrubs that are too close to the house may hide termite (and other pest) activity. Tree/shrub limbs touching the house can damage siding and allow ants and entry point. Prune shrubs to prevent them from blocking airflow through foundation vents.


indoor inspection Check molding and sheetrock for signs of termite actitivity. Sheetrock and paneling may have a "blistered" appearance and may break open easily where termites have been feeding. You may see brown soil-colored debris on the wall where the termites have chewed through the covering. Tap on the wood with the handle of a screwdriver to listen for "hollow" or damaged spots.
In closets, move boxes that might cover termite activity. In this example, termites came through the baseboard and into some boxes stored against the wall.


Related Topics

Construction, Maintenance, and Repair (NCCES-F&CS)
Termites - Preventive Measures for New Construction
Termite Biology and Control
Tips on Selecting Pest Control Services
Structural Pest Control Brochures (NCDA&CS)


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