Most people are aware that termites eat wood. The confusing part is why they seem to focus on certain homes and how some properties end up having problems while their neighbors don't.
Although termites aren't as complex as humans and other lifeforms, they still exhibit distinctive, intricate behaviors. Here's what you should know about whether your building's wooden elements might be attracting them.
Termites Are Opportunistic
Like most other species, termites want to get the maximum benefit for the least amount of effort. If certain wood sources are harder or more dangerous to access, then they'll stick to easier food sources.
Such tendencies give homeowners many different options for combatting termite incursions. For instance, these soft-bodied insects require moisture to keep themselves from drying out and dying. While they can build mud tubes to extend their reach, you're only making it easier for them if you let debris, vegetation or other obstructions accumulate near your home or its foundation. Diverting water and grading soil to promote drainage could help you minimize the risk of termite infestations.
Have a lot of dead vegetation, cardboard or wood lying around your property? Even if it's not right next to a structure, it could be attracting termites that want an easy meal.
Termites Are Picky Eaters
Although it may seem like termites will consume any and all wood that they can access, they're actually after something very specific. Wood contains an organic chemical called cellulose, which normally gives plants structural strength.
After plants die and break down, it's easier for termites to digest the cellulose with the help of microorganisms that live inside their guts. When naturally occurring funguses and weather patterns kick off the decomposition process, these materials become even more accessible to hungry termites.
Termites Have Distinctive Foraging Behaviors
Although scientists don't agree about how termites find their way to food, these are highly organized insects. Whether they're using moisture, temperature or random luck to discover meals, most colonies are large enough to engage in an effective divide-and-conquer strategy.
Individual termites communicate by leaving chemical signals that their mates can detect. They can also vibrate or use touch to tell each other about food sources that they've found. From there, it's a relatively simple matter for the rest of the nest to follow the path to the wood in or around your home. Interestingly, termites can even seem to tell the difference between trails that lead to more abundant food sources and those that are less accessible.
A termite's ability to reach wood and cause an infestation depends on various situational factors. Effective control usually involves solutions that account for as many circumstances as possible to keep these pests away for good. Contact us today for a free quote!