June Gloom Report: Are Termites Attracted to Water? You Betcha!

close shot of mulch

Putting mulch right next to your house is an invitation to subterranean termites.
Photo credit: rfduck via VisualHunt / CC BY-ND

June Gloom is upon us in Southern California. Our sunny mornings are often hidden by a thick layer of clouds, which add unpleasant humidity to the air. That humidity doesn’t just play havoc with your hair; it also prevents water from evaporating as quickly as usual. If you have small nooks and crannies around your home that collect water, it could be an oasis for a certain type of termite.

Subterranean vs Drywood Termites

In San Diego, homeowners need to primarily worry about two different types of termites: subterranean termites and drywood termites. Subterranean termites are the most common form of termites and can be found in every state in the contiguous United States. They cause the greatest amount of damage to homes each year, but mostly because they are so much more prolific than drywood termites. Drywood termites are mostly found along the southern border of the United States, including down here in San Diego.

These two types of termites differ in a lot of ways, but one of the most important ways is that subterranean termites need moisture to thrive. (Drywood termites, on the other hand, require very little water and get what they need from the cellulose that they eat).

This is a big deal for homeowners, because it means that you can help prevent subterranean termites by eliminating standing water or moisture around your home! Here are just a couple of ways to do that:

  • Look for areas that naturally collect water around your home. Does your deck slope toward your home, causing water to puddle? Has it been years since you’ve re-stained your wooden patio? Does your crawl space keep the ground moist for a long time after a rain? All of these issues are practically begging for a subterranean termite invasion, (not to mention wood rot!).

 

  • Move mulch away from your home. The entire purpose of mulch is to help keep dirt moist so that your flowers or shrubs or other plants can stay hydrated. While this is a great idea for your blooms, mulch is also a favorite termite snack. If you pack mulch right up against your home, the termites will just keep on eating, eating, eating until they are in your walls. Instead, make sure to create a barrier of at least a foot between mulch and the foundation of your home.

 

  • Clean your gutters. Ideally, your gutters will collect water from your roof and take it away from your home. When your gutters get clogged with leaves and debris, moisture will collect. Subterranean termites couldn’t ask for a better buffet! Clean your gutters regularly, and look for leaks.

 

  • Move anything organic away from your home that could collect water. If you stack a wood pile against your home, piles of newspapers, basically anything that can collect water, it creates the perfect bridge for subterranean termites to move from the outdoors into your home. The best way to prevent subterranean termites is to remove as many of these moisture bridges as possible.

If subterranean termites can’t find moisture within your home, they will have a lot more trouble surviving, which will make outside look a whole lot more appealing to them. Do yourself and your home a big favor by not making it a hospitable place for subterranean termites. As for drywood termites, well, that’s why you should get a home termite inspection each year. Even your best efforts can’t always keep termites out.

If you live in the San Diego area, contact Best-Rate Termite to schedule your next termite inspection.