Termites & Stucco

Subterranean termites are found in every state except Alaska. They invade thousands of homes every year. Homeowners spend millions of dollars to treat these pests and repair the damage that they cause.

Subterranean termites live in colonies in the ground. They are sensitive to dehydration, so they try to stay hidden. When they must travel across open areas, they build tubes of dirt for protection. Because they are hidden, termites can often cause a lot of damage without being noticed.

In many areas of the country, stucco is used as siding for homes. The stucco is a plaster–like material. For many years, stucco was applied to a wood framework, called a lath. The lath was built on the outside of the frame of a home. In recent years, it has become common to apply the stucco onto a metal mesh instead of a wooden lath.

In many situations, the metal mesh and the stucco extend all the way down into the soil on the outside of the house. The stucco siding hides the foundation from being seen. Many people prefer this because they think that it improves the appearance of the house.

Stucco and mesh that extend into the soil provide termites an easy entryway into the house. Termites can move through the soil and travel behind the stucco. They can attack the framing lumber of the house without being seen at all.

A conventional termite treatment consists of liquid termiticide applied in a shallow trench around the outside of a home. If the stucco and mesh extend into the soil, the termiticide treatment will only treat the outside of the stucco. The stucco will shield the side of the foundation, so it will not be treated by the termiticide. The termites can continue to travel up the foundation behind the stucco without coming into contact with the termiticide that has been applied.

Some termite control professionals will not treat homes that have this type of stucco extending into the soil. Others will treat the home, but will only give a limited guarantee for the effectiveness of the treatment. Many experts suggest cutting off stucco and mesh siding above ground level. They recommend exposing a few inches of the foundation. This will enable a termiticide treatment to protect the side of the foundation and stop termites more effectively. The exposed foundation can be inspected easily, so it will be easy to see if termites have returned to attack the home.

Homeowners can call a termite control professional for an inspection. These experts can provide advice about the most effective ways to help keep termites from invading the home.