One of the most misunderstood types of pests in the U.S. are subterranean termites. But these are pests you don't want to be misinformed about. Subterranean termites cost U.S. property owners billions of dollars each year. Today, we're going to take a look at a few myths you might still believe about these wood-destroying insects and why it is important that you don't believe them.

1. Termites serve no purpose; they simply exist to destroy.

You may have it in your mind that termites just destroy all the wood in their path. But this is not the case. Termites prefer to eat decaying wood, thus playing a valuable role in nature. Termites help with decomposition and they help to enrich the soil. Why should you know this? Because termites aren't likely to be attracted to your yard by healthy trees. They rarely feed on trees that are alive. They're drawn to yards by logs, stumps, and trees that have heart rot. They'll also be strongly attracted to your yard if you have wood sitting on the ground, or buried under the ground.

2. If I have a lot of mulch or decaying wood nearby, termites will leave my home alone.

You may know that decaying wood is a preferred food source for termites. If you do, it might make you think that a lot of mulch or decaying wood on your property will keep termites from feeding on the timbers of your home. While these wood sources will definitely be preferable, they aren't going to keep termites from eating your home. In fact, they'll attract termites, increase colony sizes, and make termites more of a threat to your home. A key point to understand about this is that termite workers do not focus on one food source at a time. Termite workers can feed on your home while they're feeding on wood sources in your yard. The more food they're able to find, the faster they'll grow their numbers.

3. Termite infestations are easy to detect.

Do you think you'll be able to see wood damage when termites start to eat your home? If so, you're going to be disappointed. Termites can feed on your home for years without giving you any visible warning signs. You can have millions of termites in your home without seeing a single one because termite workers avoid light and dry air. You won't see worker termites crawling on your walls, and you won't see the vast majority of the damage worker termites are doing to your home. 

4. Termites can eat through concrete.

Have you heard this? If so, you can relax a little—but only a little. Termite can't eat through concrete, but some people think they can because termite workers have an amazing ability to find cracks in concrete. Worker termites are relentless. If your home has an entry point in its foundation, termites will probably find it. When they do, they'll work their way up through that crack and find a pathway into the wood frame of your home. This can happen at the point where your sills rest on top of your foundation walls, giving worker termites direct access to the wood of your home.

5. If a house has been treated for termites once, you never have to worry about termites again.

There are a few ways you might think your home is protected from termites. You might think that the pressure-treated wood in your home is resistant to termites. This is only partly true. Over time, the product in pressure treated wood can break down. This can happen more quickly if wood is soaked by water and wood begins to rot. Another way you might think that your home is protected is if the previous owners had a liquid termiticide barrier installed. Unfortunately, termiticide does not last forever. It breaks down. When it does, pathways can form, and relentless worker termites can use them to find a path into your home.

6. You can get rid of termites on your own.

There is nothing worse than spending a lot of money, time, and energy to protect your property from termites, and finding out that termites have found a way past your treatments and have done a considerable amount of damage. When it comes to termite protection, it is best to have a certified termite control professional handle this important task.

If you live in the Pittsburgh area, remember that Witt Pest Management has been protecting Pittsburgh homes and businesses from pests since 1908. We know what it takes to protect your property from termite damage.