office building

What attracts termites to commercial properties?

Mike Sutton

Traditionally termites are viewed as an issue reserved solely for residential homeowners. While it’s true that termites cause damage to approximately 600,000 homes in the U.S. each year – your business could be at risk of a termite infestation as well. Due to the many different termite species as well as diversity in commercial building structures, businesses are no longer free from the risk.

Termite Awareness Week is a great time to discuss the favorable conditions for termites. Knowing what attracts these pests will allow for the proper precautionary measures to be taken – protecting your business from the extensive damage a full-scale infestation can cause.

Favorable conditions for termites

moisture damage to a structure


Subterranean termites thrive in areas with high moisture levels. If your business has outdoor lawn sprinklers, it’s very likely that the perimeter of your building will get wet. When water from the sprinklers comes directly into contact with the walls of your building, it can cause direct damage to the structure as well as provide the moisture termites need to survive. Additionally, this will also contribute to wood-decay fungi development.

tree near building exterior


Many larger buildings have landscaping such as bushes, turf and wood mulch that are propped up against the property’s exterior. Unfortunately, these materials provide the ideal meal for termites and will give them a direct access point from which they can easily invade the structure. Tree limbs in proximity to or those that hang over the building, as well as tree stumps and firewood piles near the structure, will also create these termite harbors.


Foam insulation is an energy-conserving addition to a building structure. However, if it is installed in direct contact with soil, or in close proximity to the soil or grade, termites will have a readily available entryway into the structure. Insulation is easily penetrated and tunneled through by the destructive pests. The foam insulation board also retains moisture which termites need to survive and thrive, as mentioned previously.

termite damage

Cracks in concrete

Over time, cracks in concrete can form due to expanding soils and the settling of the building structure. Although visibly small, cracks in slabs of concrete can make your structure vulnerable to an infestation. Termites only need 1/55th of an inch to get through the slab and into the building.

brick building under construction

Siding in contact with soil

In areas where siding, brick, wood, stucco or vinyl is installed below grade level or in direct contact with soil, termites are able to build their mud tubes in between the structure’s siding and foundation, entering the building completely undetected. Although it may be aesthetically appealing to have siding meet the soil, this makes termite entry virtually impossible to spot.

Signs of a termite infestation

Spotting the early signs of a termite infestation could save your business thousands of dollars. Look out for these indicators in or around your company’s property:

  • Wood that has buckled or is swollen or wooden tunnels where termites have burrowed
  • Mud tubes that connect their underground nest to a structure
  • Droppings, which look like tiny wood-colored pellets – a sign of drywood termites
  • Piles of wing residue from the termite swarm or remaining live termites

Although spotting the signs of termites can be quite difficult, knowing the common signs to look for, can help protect your commercial property from these extremely destructive wood-eating insects. From food processing to healthcare, no commercial business sector is excluded from the risk of a termite invasion. If you suspect your business has a termite problem, contact Rentokil, your trusted termite control experts.

Mike Sutton
Mike Sutton

Mike Sutton is the Line of Business Product Manager for Termite, Wildlife, & Fumigation. He works to bring new programs and services to the market.

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