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While no one wants to encourage their appearance, it’s easy to attract termites into your home unknowingly. We all fear the types of damage they can do once they get inside – nearly $5 billion each year in property damage nationwide.  But what is it that attracts them to your home in the first place?

Most of the reasons that termites are drawn to your home can be easily prevented. Here’s what you need to know to discourage their interest and keep a big problem from developing:

  • Wood Piles. ‘Tis the season for using your fireplace. Firewood in a wood pile can attract termites and draw them closer to your home. Termites feed on cellulose, an essential component of wood. To avoid an invasion, keep wood piles dry and stacked at least five inches off the ground and five feet away from the structure. Even better, have a main wood pile 20 or more feet from the house and a smaller, secondary one closer and just replenish. Avoid bringing firewood into the home and stacking it close by. Then you’re just asking for trouble!
  • Mulch. Like firewood, mulch is attractive to termites for the same reasons. The wood chips retain moisture, providing an attractive food source, especially for dampwood Lower your likelihood of developing a termite problem, especially in your home’s foundation, by keeping mulch at least 15 inches from your foundation. And avoid using wood mulches in garden beds by your house. Instead, choose a low- or no-cellulose ground cover like pine straw, rubber mulch, gravel or rocks.
  • Moisture. Subterranean termites, who build their colonies in the soil, are attracted to moisture. Standing water in or around your home’s foundation creates an attractive environment for these termites. Make sure the ground slopes away from the foundation to carry off excess rainwater. Leaky pipes are not just a plumbing issue and should be addressed before creating an opportunity for termite infestation. Especially in the fall and early winter, be sure roof gutters are clean and free of leaves to ensure proper drainage around your home.
  • Landscaping. Tree limbs and leaves that touch the roof can attract termites to your home. These branches give termites a pathway from the ground to your house. Regular tree trimming can dissuade termites from migrating to your roof. Dead trees and stumps attract termites as they rot. Termites will migrate from this excess foliage to your home. To prevent this, clear stumps and dead trees from your yard as soon as possible.

Massachusetts is located in a “moderate to heavy” geographic zone for termite activity. Annual inspections are especially important in the northeast due to the abundance of older homes in the region which are particularly vulnerable to termite infestation.

Have you seen any signs of termites in your home? Even if you take an abundance of precaution, it can still happen. Time to call a termite control specialist to evaluate and terminate the issue.