Ways to prevent termites from infesting home

Termites thrive in damp environments, dead wood

HOUSTON – Tiny termites can create big problems for homeowners, causing $5 billion in damage to homes in the U.S. every year.

Mark Packard tracks termites for a living.

"Termites are serious. They eat the structure. They consume wood," Packard said.

Termites thrive in damp environments and dead wood. With all the recent rain and flooding in Houston, homeowners are at risk. But there are a few things people can do to stop them from infesting their homes.

"There's no surefire way to prevent termites, but a couple things you can do are to reduce any moisture you find around your home, as well as don't stack firewood up near your house," said Angie Hicks, from Angie's List.

If there are a lot of trees in the neighborhood or on a property, the home is an even bigger target.

"If you see small-winged insects that are coming out of the ground in late spring or early summer, also, if you see mudlike tubes that are forming on your house, that's also potentially a sign of termites," Hicks said.

That's where pest control professionals like Packard come in.

"Basically, we're trying to set the foundation on a chemical barrier so there's no way the termites can get into the structure without going through our chemical and then it's a transfer effect," Packard said. "They get the chemical on them. They take it back to the colony and wipe the colony out."

Professionals can also place bait stations around the property, but that can take longer.

"The main thing is, is don't panic. It's a serious thing, but get an education about termites and hire the contractor you feel most comfortable with," Packard said.

It can be hard to tell when someone has termites, and treating an infestation can cost thousands of dollars, so Hicks said it's a good idea to have an inspection every year or two. Those usually cost about $200.