Tiny Termite House: How Termites Destroy From The Inside Out

The National Pest Management Association reveals the destructive nature of termites with rare, never-before-seen footage

 

FAIRFAX, VA. (May 14, 2018)The Tiny Termite House, a first-of-its-kind, groundbreaking study and video production by the National Pest Management Association has revealed the destructive nature of termites like never before. Just a few short months ago, more than half a million voracious termites were introduced into the soil surrounding a tiny, built-to-scale dream home. A team of researchers began documenting and observing their behaviors and the incredible damage they leave in their wake. The Tiny Termite House is verifiable proof of just how quickly and methodically termites can eat away at a structure if left unchecked, consuming critical support beams while tucked out of sight from the human eye.

“On the surface, the house appeared to be in good shape. We had some visual clues of mud tubes forming; however, it was what was happening inside the walls and under the floors that showed the real story. This termite colony got right to work, turning this dream home into a danger zone,” said Jim Fredericks, Ph.D., chief entomologist for the NPMA. “We were surprised to see that the termites acted much like they would in a true-to-size home, finding vulnerabilities in the structure and quickly began making their way up from sub-flooring and joists and into the walls.”

The Damage

Despite being a tiny, model home, the termites behaved and attacked the house in the same way they destroy life size homes every day — with barely any noticeable damage to the exterior and only minor signs of destruction throughout the home itself. Hence, their nickname, “silent destroyers.”

The researchers dumped more than 500,000 subterranean termites into the soil surrounding the home, provided source of moisture and monitored the house to see how far the pests would go and how much destruction they would cause.

They immediately found the structural weaknesses of the foundation, infiltrating cracks in the cement and finding easy access points at the corners of the home where the wood came together. The first trace of damage that was spotted was the mud tubes that they built — pathways constructed by the termites to reach their food source, which are a common sign of termite trouble. Once their mud tubes were formed, these wood-destroyers went to town on the wood joists and plywood first before moving to the drywall.

During the final tour of the home, researchers found that practically all the floor and wall joists had been completely eaten away. The once pristine hardwood floors started to buckle and the structure of the house was a total loss.

“We were amazed when we lifted the sub flooring from the cement slab at the foundation of the home — there were hundreds of thousands of termites living underneath it,” said Fredericks. “If we would have let the termites go for an extended period of time, we expect that the whole house would’ve began to crumble and eventually collapse before our eyes,” added Fredericks.

Termite Prevention

One of the most destructive insect species to affect homeowners, termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage in the U.S. every year — a cost that is typically not covered by home insurance policies. “These costly critters are out in full force during the warmer months and given the eye-opening results of the Tiny Termite House, it’s important for homeowners to work with a licensed pest control professional to proactively check for termites on an annual basis,” said Fredericks. “If left unchecked, an active infestation can threaten not only your wallet, but also your safety.”

Here are 10 tips from the NPMA to prevent termite encounters: 

  1. Eliminate or reduce moisture in and around the home, which termites need to thrive
  2. Repair leaking faucets, water pipes and exterior AC units
  3. Repair fascia, soffits and rotted roof shingles
  4. Replace weather stripping and loose mortar around basement foundation and windows
  5. Divert water away from the house through properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks
  6. Routinely inspect the foundation of a home for signs of mud tubes or wood that sounds hollow when tapped
  7. Monitor all exterior areas of wood, including windows, doorframes and skirting boards for any noticeable changes
  8. Maintain an 18-inch gap between soil and any wood portions of your home
  9. Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house
  10. Consider scheduling a professional inspection annually, and if buying a home, don’t bypass the wood destroying organism inspection

More About the Tiny Termite House

The tiny, two-story home was built to replicate an actual home in Anytown, USA and included many of the same features, such as insulation, plumbing and electricity. Other amenities included hardwood floors, a beautiful kitchen and a balcony overlooking an in-ground swimming pool. Like many American homes, the house was constructed on a cement slab. However, there was one big difference — this house was fully equipped with cameras throughout to study the termites progress from introduction to decimation. 

For more information on the Tiny Termite House, visit PestWorld.org/tiny-termite-house. Visit PestWorld.org for more information about termites and be sure to follow the @PestWorld social media channels for more. 

About the National Pest Management Association

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 5,500 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property from the diseases and dangers of pests. For more information, visit PestWorld.org or follow @PestWorld on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

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