How To Tell If A Crevice Or Crack In Concrete Slabs Or Mortar Foundations Make A Home Vulnerable To Subterranean Termite Attack

Subterranean, drywood and dampwood termite species can be found throughout the United States, and many are known pests of structural wood within homes, while a few others mainly infest wooden furniture and finished wood items. Termites are easily the most economically significant pests of homes and buildings in the world, and they are particularly destructive in the US where they inflict well over five billion dollars in structural damage annually. It could be argued that Louisiana sees more devastation from termite pest activity than any other city in the country, and possibly the entire world.

The unusually high rate of termite infestations in Louisiana is largely due to the invasive presence of the uniquely destructive Formosan subterranean termite species. This species is only problematic in the Gulf Coast states, and they damage wood at a relatively rapid rate due to the enormous size of their mature colonies, which contain around ten million individual termites, far more than the 50,000 to one million individuals within mature native subterranean termite colonies. Subterranean termites dwell below the ground where workers are able to infest the structural wood at the base of timber-framed homes by traveling through extremely narrow cracks and crevices in concrete slabs and foundation walls.

Subterranean termite workers cannot access structural wood within slab-on-ground homes, as long as concrete slabs and brick and mortar foundations are completely free of cracks and crevices. Unfortunately, cracks quickly begin to take form on concrete slabs and foundations shortly after homes have been built. Also, slab-on-ground homes are particularly vulnerable to subterranean termite attacks because workers can easily travel through narrow expansion joints where slab edges meet the bottom of exterior walls. The narrowest concrete crack that subterranean termite workers have been documented as penetrating measured only 1.3 mm in width, and another researcher claims he witnessed a worker travel through a concrete crack as narrow as .8 mm in width, but this claim cannot be verified. A recent study carried out by American researchers found that most workers from all subterranean termite species can squeeze through cracks as narrow as .93 mm in width, but many were able to fit through .76 mm wide cracks. The study’s authors concluded that any crack in concrete slabs or exterior foundation walls as wide as .396 mm, or 1/16 of an inch in width leaves the above home vulnerable to subterranean termite attack. Caulking cracks in slabs and exterior foundation walls will prevent workers from invading interior structural wood.

Have you inspected your home for cracks in concrete slabs and/or foundations that could be exploited by subterranean termite workers to access interior structural wood components?

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