Detect, Prevent and Eliminate Termites

Rains result in increased pest infestations in our homes.  Termites being the most significant.  They have a voracious appetite for all forms of cellulose.  

Termites can severely damage a house before being detected. Once damage is visible, the cost to repair is very high.

If you find a large active infestation, you might not want to rely on do it yourself solutions.  Professional experience is worth the peace of mind.

In  this article learn how to detect, prevent and eliminate termites that can eat your home.

Warning: Please use caution when treating your home with chemicals or insecticides. Follow the instructions on the label carefully.

Detecting

There are over 40 different species of termites in the United States alone! Each of these species is classified under 3 groups: subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. The group name identifies the living environment and meal that each species prefer. One thing that all these termites have in common is that they can all infect your home through structural cracks or wood that sits near the soil.  A queen is capable of laying thousands of eggs at a time. In just a few years, you could have millions of these pests eating away at your home.

Termites are extremely dangerous because they will destroy structural beams that support your house. The severity of the damage will depend on the size and species of the colony.  In addition to structural beams, these critters will also eat their way through posts, wall studs, ceiling supports and sub-floors, carpet, paneling, furniture, money and books. They will chew their way through pretty much any cellulose-based plant materials.

You can tell the difference between termites and ants by the construction of the abdomen.  Ants have a constriction of the abdomen between the thorax and the rest of the abdomen while termite’s bodies are broadly joined. That is the main characteristic to distinguish the difference between the two species. In simpler terms, ants have a slim waste and termites do not. Also, the antennae of termites are not elbowed like you will find on an ant’s antennas.

Signs of an infestation are not always easy to find. It may require some serious detective work to determine if your house has any problems. The best way to start is with a screwdriver and flashlight. Begin in your basement or crawlspace and search for obvious signs of damage.

Here is a list of things you should look for:
Mud tubes
Termite excrement
Paint that appears to be bubbling or peeling
Solid wood that sounds hollow when you knock on it
Crumbling wood
Pinholes in drywall
Sagging floors or sheet rock
Winged insects in or around your house (look like ants)
Discarded wings

FUN FACT: Termites are known as the largest producer of farts.
Shocking but true.  They produce so many farts that termite farts are believed to be a major contributor towards global warming.  Termites alone produce more methane than cows and even all man-made polluting machinery.. However, you won’t find them under your house by looking for a fart smells!

If you detect termites, start the process of killing them right away. Doing it yourself could save you hundreds of dollars.   A huge infestation however will require professional guidance.

Preventing

  1. Eliminate sources of moisture. Damp conditions underneath of a food source is the type of environment where these insects will thrive. If termites do not have access to water, they will die. Here is a list of things that could reduce the moisture in your home:
    • Inspect faucets and water pipes to make sure there are no leaks
    •  Make sure your attic and crawlspace/basement are properly ventilated. A good cross breeze will keep humidity down.
    • Clean roof gutters.
    •  Remove any standing water around the foundation of your home
  2. Remove potential food sources.  All sources of cellulose will attract termites. Eliminate ALL brush piles, mulch, logs and wood around the perimeter of your home. It is OK to keep a wood pile, if you elevate it off the ground.   If you can’t avoid wood mulch for landscaping, keep it at least 6 inches away from the foundation of your home.
  3. Seal every possible crack and crevice you can find with sealant.  The important areas include door frames, window frames, cracks in the foundation , voids/gaps where wires, cables and pipes lead indoors.  Also install insect screens on all vents leading into your home.
  4. Pre-treat soil when building new.
  5. Inspect regularly for infestation.
  6. Employ 1 or more methods of elimination.

Eliminating

Spot Treatments – Termidor FOAM
Active Ingredient: Fipronil – 0.005%.
Target pests: Termites, Ants, Powder Post Beetles (most common species)

This is used spot treatments INSIDE your house.  The foam expands at a 30:1 ration, creating a dry foam that can be applied to any areas where termites are found. One ounce of spray will become 1 quart of foam within 5 seconds.

It is the most effective solution for termite control because the product is a “non-repellent”, which means that termites cannot, smell, taste, or detect Termidor. This allows them to contact, ingest and spread it throughout their colony. Termidor is engineeered to kill termites slowly so they have enough time to transfer the chemical to as many other termites as possible. That is what makes Termidor the preferred choice of most pest control companies. It is the most effective and fastest way to get rid of termite infestations.

Perimeter Treatment – Spectracide Termite Killing Stakes Kit
Active Ingredient: Hexaflurmuron – 0.5%
Target pests: Termites

This is used perimeter treatment OUTSIDE your house. It only take a few minutes to install and a pop-up flag alerts you if termite activity is detected. The stakes go deep into the soil to kill foraging termites. This kit also includes education materials on termite behavior.

This is an insect growth regulator. It stops termite growth and interferes with the formation of their exoskeleton. The EPA in the United States has classified hexaflumuron as a reduced-risk pesticide because it poses less risk to human health (and the environment) than existing pest control treatments.The stakes have pop-up indicators to notify you of activity. The kit also includes a digging auger, informational materials on termite behavior and a graph to properly plot your stakes into the ground.

It is important to maintain and service each unit according to the labeled instructions. If not properly maintained, dead termites will collect around the stations and act as a repellent to the rest of the colony. If this begins to happen, they will move past your barrier to find other food sources.

Natural treatment – Beneficial nematodes or boric acid.   Less commonly used.  Application is different and less toxic.  It is worthy to research these options  Read more here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. If my neighbors discover termites, should I have my home inspected?

A. Just because a neighboring house has termites, it does not mean your house will have them. However, it could mean that your home is a higher risk. It is probably a good idea to do periodical inspections.

Q. Why do I have termites if my house is only 1 year old?

A. If your home is brand new and you already have termites, it is possible that your home did not get a continuous termiticide barrier during contructions. Or, the barrier may have been compromised during constructions.

Q. How much does a professional termite treatment cost?

A. The cost will vary depending on the company and the size of your home. The average home will typically cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000 dollars to treat for termites.


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