Why attached sheds attract termites

When you think about termites and why they would be attracted to your home you ultimately come up with a list of conducive conditions. Leaking water spigots, cracks in the foundation, stored wood piles right next to the house and the list goes on and on. While it’s great to realize these areas could be a problem and even better to correct them there is an area most people don’t think twice about but one where I find a large percentage of termite activity and damage. Not every home has an attached shed but typically they are on mobile homes or houses with carports. These handy add ons give us space to keep our tools or have the washer and dryer but unfortunately they also give the subterranean termite easy access to the main structure, your home.

Now before I go on, it’s sort of a misnomer that anything can attract termites. Being blind the subterranean termite doesn’t see the lights on at your home and decide to attack. Their foraging patterns are pretty sophisticated however and when they key in on certain clues, they explore that area with a fine tooth comb and if they can get in they call in the calvary and the feast is on.

3 major problems with attached sheds

Number 1 is we pack our sheds with tons o stuff! It’s really difficult to see anything termite wise because of all the tools, storage, shelves etc. Termites can go a long time without being noticed and since the bldg. is attached they often find their way into the house.

Number 2 A lot of sheds have insulation on the walls covering the studs and the siding from the floor to the ceiling. I don’t know why most have this because they’re not heated and cooled but I see it all the time. So even an empty shed provides very little visible help when looking for the secretive termite. What’s worse is most of the insulation that’s used is a cellulose material, a kind of pressed board. Wood is cellulose so this insulation is like a candy treat they can gobble up quickly.

Number 3 the exterior siding is almost always right to the grade level or below. Talk about a perfect scenario, the termite now has a protected entry and since there is no space where the wall can breathe it holds in more moisture that they have to have in order to survive. This also makes it very difficult to see any mud tubes or evidence of the invading pest so again they may go un-noticed for far to long.

What to look for and what to do

Termites move up and down in mud tunnels and at times you can see the tube on a stud or across the insulation. They live in seclusion and do not expose themselves so they usually eat just to the outer edge of the wood they’re eating. If they are in the insulation you’ll see that the plastic or last paper layer becomes wrinkled or bubbled and with a little poking you’ll uncover the damage just beneath the surface. Sheds are also a common place for swarms and you may find wings on the shelving or widow sill. Also tubes on the exterior foundation may be visible if it’s not at ground level.

The best way to keep termites out of your attached shed is of course to have it treated before they get in but you still may need some modification. Siding below grade not only keeps the entry secretive but it can block a liquid termite barrier from getting where it needs to go. I advise my clients to either cut the siding for clearance or to dig some of the dirt away so you can at least see the foundation. Also if there are any expansion joints or cracks in the cement those areas need to be drilled and termiticide should be injected in the soil below. Remember, termites only need 1/64th of an inch to get in so this is very important. If you do have a utility sink or washer in your shed make sure you don’t have any leaks and that the water drains away from the shed. (preferably in proper plumbing and not just out on the lawn) Of course not packing the inside and keeping some of the wall space visible would be great but I realize that’s not always available. A termite inspection by a professional is always a good idea but keeping a vigilant eye out in between may save you from some costly surprises.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.

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  • I love the picture of that shed – What, I have termites – really.

  • I love the picture of that shed – What, I have termites – really.

  • The Bug Doctor

    Yea that pic got a lot of attention on Facebook. Those termites were on a serious hunt but the homeowner didn’t think anything of it.

  • The Bug Doctor

    Yea that pic got a lot of attention on Facebook. Those termites were on a serious hunt but the homeowner didn’t think anything of it.

  • TommyTermite

    The bug Doctor has no clue, if you cant reach it you can treat it unless you tent

  • Hard to make out what you mean with your choice of words there Tommy. But I will say I’ve been doing termite work for 27 years and have yet to “tent” for subterranean termites. Am I missing something?