dog sniffing out termites in baseboards
Photo: Eric Rank
Dogs trained to sniff out termites in their hiding places are just one way to find out if your house is infested.
Nationwide, termites inflict more than $2.5 billion worth of damage on homes each year. Crawling up into sill plates or foundation posts from damp soil, flying into attics or crawl spaces, these relentless insects tunnel into and eat wood, leaving nothing but paper-thin layers where strong supports used to be.

Much of that damage could be avoided with early detection. But termites dine out of sight, cleverly disguising the results of their munching. That's what makes them so scary — and so costly to control. On the following pages, we'll tell you the warning signs to look for, the most common types of termites, and the pros and cons of various treatment options.

You can check for termites yourself, but a licensed pest-control professional knows where to look for infestations and has the equipment and experience to properly identify bugs, the first step toward eradicating them. (Accurate identification is crucial: What works on one type may not affect another.) Ask to see evidence of an active colony; damaged wood by itself may not be sufficient proof that termites are at work. And once you've gotten rid of them, sign up for an annual inspection; you don't want them to get far if they ever come back.
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