Subterranean termites are one of the most feared house pests. They can chew through your wood structures and cause serious damage in a short period of time. In addition, they are difficult to eradicate once they invade. If subterranean termites are common in your area, you must take steps to keep them away from your home — particularly your foundation, since they are known to enter through tiny cracks there.

So what attracts subterranean termites to a particular foundation, and what can you do to make your foundation less appealing to them?

Improper Mulch

Mulch makes garden beds look nice — not only to you, but also to termites. If you push wood mulch directly against your home, that mulch provides a food source for termites and also keeps the soil against your home moist and cool, which is just how termites like it.

If you have garden beds along your foundation, use a mulching material that does not contain cellulose, such as rubber, gravel, or rocks, in those beds. Also, leave a barrier of at least 12 inches between the mulch and the foundation. This practice keeps the soil against your foundation warmer and dryer, which helps keep termites away.

Excessive Shrubbery

Pay attention to the placement of shrubs and bushes in your foundation garden beds. Planting shrubs directly against the home may attract termites to your foundation since the shrubs shade the soil and keep it moist.

Plant new shrubs and bushes at least 3 feet away from your home’s foundation. Keep your plants well-pruned so that branches never touch your home; termites have been known to travel along branches to reach homes.

Stacked Firewood

In an effort to keep firewood accessible, many homeowners stack it against the side of their home. Unfortunately, firewood may contain termites, and placing it against the home provides the bugs with a direct route to the foundation or other wood structures.

Always store your firewood at least 30 feet away from your home. Choose a well-drained site, and stack the wood on pallets to keep the bottom layer dry. Proper firewood storage also helps deter other insects, like carpenter ants and beetles, which are also attracted to decaying, moist wood.

Clogged Gutters or Short Downspouts

Homes are designed with gutters to help drain the water from your roof and direct it away from your home. If your gutters become clogged, however, the water may instead drip down the side of your home, moistening your foundation, your home’s wood framing, and the soil around it.

To keep your foundation dry, clean your gutters twice a year: once in the spring and again in the autumn after leaves have fallen from your trees. Also, take a minute to inspect your gutter downspouts. If they are not long enough to truly carry water away from your foundation, consider adding downspout extenders to divert the draining water.

Leaky Pipes

Leaky pipes are not just an indoor problem. Sometimes the water main, which carries fresh water into your home, may crack and leak below ground. If your yard is wet even when there has been little rainfall, a leaky water main may be to blame. Unfortunately, the excess moisture can also attract termites to your foundation.

You can easily check to see if you have a hidden plumbing leak. Turn off all of your faucets and appliances, and then watch your water meter. If the dial is still spinning, you have a leak somewhere. Have a plumber out to investigate before too much more damage occurs.

Subterranean termites will feed on any wood structure, from a shed to a fallen tree. However, having them come in through your foundation and feed on the wood in your home is the worst. Keep the conditions above in mind, and you should be able to fend them off. Contact Environmental Services Pest Control, LLC , if you have trouble with termites or other pests.