Termites are a much feared type of pest, purely for the amount of damage that they can cause to unprotected buildings and other wooden structures. Once in¬side a building, termites do not limit themselves to wood; they also damage paper, cloth, carpets, and other materials that contain cellulose materials. Termites and Ants are often commonly confused. Ants have a narrow waist, termites do not. Antsʼ front wings are longer than their back wings, but termite wings are the same length and fold straight back down the length of the body. Ant antennae bend, while termite antennae do not.
     To help prevent termite infestations, there are several things you can do. You can avoid contact of susceptible timber with the ground by using termite-resistant concrete, steel, or masonry foundation with barriers. You can treat the timber with pesticides and insecticides. Once a colony has penetrated a building, the first step is to destroy the colony with insecticides before removing the termitesʼ means of access and fixing the problems that encouraged them in the first place.
      To tell if you have an infestation, look for wings shed on windowsills or near lights. Termite damage fol¬lows the grain of the wood and the damage is often lined with soil. Termites also will dig up cinder blocks, concrete, brick, and other surfaces to get to wood. If you hit the wood in your house with a hammer and it sounds dull, there may be termite activity inside.
     In some areas of the country, carpenter ants cause more damage to structures than termites. Termites eat wood, whereas carpenter ants excavate galleries to use as nesting sites. Homes located near wooded areas or brush covered vacant lots are good candidates for infestation, and ant colonies are inclined to seek a new home if they are disturbed. There are several common signs of infestations such as frass, which is made of wood shavings, bits of soil, dead ants, and parts of insects. Frass is often piled up outside of nest openings and on window sills. Clicking or rustling can sometimes be heard from nests. Tap against a suspected area with a screwdriver, and you may hear a response. Generally though, the first sign of an infestation is the sighting of workers throughout the home. These workers look like big black ants. The ants can enter the home through foundation or attic vents, cracks, plumbing holes, entrances for telephone or cable and more.
     To eliminate a carpenter ant problem, it is best to use baits. Baits work by decreasing the population of ants in the area, reducing their potential for entering a structure. Never treat the same area with bait and a spray as it will decrease the effectiveness. Professional services have access to better baits than you can find at your supermarket.