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Everything You Need To Know About Termites – Part 3

In this three-part series, we’ve compiled a complete and exhaustive resource on termites with the most up-to-date facts and data, from both our resident experts at Insight Pest Solutions as well as top-notch, recognized sources from across the country.

In Part 1, we discussed termite basics and talked about how to identify them. In Part 2, we talked about termite castes, the anatomy of a colony, the different species of termites, and more.

Here in Part 3, we’ll answer commonly asked questions about treating for termites, and tell you what you need to know if you have them (and if you don’t).

All of the information presented in this guide can also be found in this infographic we created.

For more information, check out this exhaustive Pest Control resource, with many tips about termites.

Termites in a mound. Photo credit: Gavinevans

Treatments:

To control subterranean termites, liquid treatments of baits are typically used. For drywood termite control, tenting and fumigating a structure is the most common treatment.

If you live in a new home, keep in mind that new homes usually receive a termite treatment during construction that lasts anywhere from 6 months to five years, depending on application procedures, product quality, and environmental factors.

Here are some frequently asked questions about treating for termites.

Q: Are termiticides (products that resolve termite issues) safe for me and the environment?

A: When responsibly used by licensed professionals, yes. Thankfully, the dangerous products that leave a residual for several decades have been outlawed. Applications are designed to bind with the soil so extended benefit can be achieved; however the products have been specifically formulated to break down to protect the environment.  The products themselves are very similar to the products that would be used on or in a consumer’s home.

Q: Will I have to leave the home for the treatment?

A: If a Drywood Termite treatment is performed with a fumigant, you need to leave for one to two days. Also, if an interior liquid treatment is needed, you may need to stay out of the room that was treated for a couple of hours.

Q: Can’t I just spray them with bug spray when I find them?

A: Contact kill applications will eradicate those that are treated but will not eradicate the entire colony. Attempting to solve the problem on your own may lead to further damage and frustration.

Q: Why do you have to drill holes in concrete and dig a small trench around the house?

A: Baits can be effective, but there is no guarantee that they will find the bait or prefer the bait over the cellulose discovered in the home. Liquid applications may not kill the termites, either, but placing the liquid in all areas where termites may enter the structure (including underground) yields a much higher chance of preventing access and damage to the home.

Q: What if I build an attached garage or an addition to my home?

A: If a new slab has been poured, in many cases sub-slab injections will be required to achieve optimal results.  This will require drilling through a concrete slab which may include garages, porches, patios, etc.

Q: Are there any organic solutions or home remedies for termites?

A: Before a home is built, termite-resistant barriers such as uniform-sized particles and stainless steel screening can be installed between the home and the soil.  When used as continuous horizontal barriers installed during pre-construction, these barriers withstood intensive foraging activities of several termite species under field conditions.  However, these non-chemical barriers are not widely used at this time, so discuss options with building contractors. For homes without active termite barriers, preventing or reducing conducive conditions is the best organic option.

Q: How much does it cost to treat for termites?

A: This varies substantially depending on the size and type of the structure, type of treatment required, type of product used and type of warranty offered or selected.  Treatment costs can vary from $600-$2000+.

Q: Why is a termite treatment so much more expensive than a regular pest control treatment?

A: Termite treatments are more costly due to the substantial increase of time and products required as well as the increased liability the company accepts when a warranty is provided.

Q: If I have a seasonal pest control service for ants, spiders, mice, wasps, etc., does that mean I don’t have to worry about termites?

A: No. If a termite crawls through the products that protect your home from ants and spiders, it will die. However, termites regularly gain access to homes without contacting any areas treated on a regular pest control service plan.

Q: Will the termites be pushed towards my neighbors if I get a treatment?

A: Although termites are not “pushed” to the neighbors’ homes, their homes may be in danger just as your home was.  When one food source is removed, they will seek another food source.

Q: How can I tell that the treatment worked?

A: The absence of termites, or the discontinuation of further damage, are both good signs that the application worked. However, a warranty and routine inspections are important because most termite damage is not easily visible.

Q: What types of home repairs are typically needed after a termite infestation?

A: Structural repairs to replace damaged framing members will be required to safely support your home. Cosmetic repairs such as damage to finished carpentry may be desired by the homeowner.

Termite damage on external structure. Photo credit: Alton

Takeaways if you don’t have termites:

  1. Determine whether you have any termite warranties from previous treatments (perhaps during construction on a new home)

  2. Inspect any ‘problem areas’ regularly and look for mud tubes, swarmers, or damaged wood.

  3. Get a free professional inspection each year. Many termite professionals will provide an inspection at no charge. Be careful in case they try to sell you something you don’t need.

  4. If desired, you can have preventive treatments applied to the soil.

  5. Remove any conducive conditions.

  • Eliminate ‘wood-to-soil’ contacts which may include wood piles, wood siding, support beams, and any other structural timbers of a home.

  • Remove plants or mulch from contact with the foundation or exterior walls.

  • Repair damaged wood.

  • Ensure the foundation is exposed and visible.

  • Prevent or resolve any moisture issues in the home or crawlspace.

  • Ensure that water properly drains away from the foundation.

Takeaways if you do have termites:

  1. Stay calm. Termites aren’t an immediate threat unless the building is literally on the verge of collapse, which is quite rare. Termites do not bite humans or transfer diseases.

  2. Get quotes and hire a pest/termite professional. Look for reviews, discuss with neighbors, and ask hard questions about pricing and warranties. It rarely hurts to get a second opinion. Get all of the facts and details straight before you authorize any work!

  3. If needed, make repairs to the home.  Your termite specialist may be able to recommend a contractor if you need a referral.

  4. When selling your house, be sure to disclose that you have experienced and successfully resolved termite issues. Discuss whether your warranty is transferrable to the buyer.

And that brings us to the end of our termite guide. We hope you picked up some useful info! You can also find all of the tips from Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 in this Termite Control Infographic.

Have you ever dealt with termites? What do you think about our guide? Leave us a comment or reach us on Twitter (@insightpest) or on Facebook.

Sources:

The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Department of Entomology, Purdue University

Ohioline, The Ohio State University

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory

Virginia Cooperative Extension

Department of Entomology, NCSU

Massey Services

National Pest Management Association

Orkin

Termites101.org

NOAA’s National Weather Service

Posted in: Preventing Pests

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