Termite Control
How to Get Rid of Termites & More

Everything you wanted to know about Termites & Termite Treatment

After being in the business for many years, we as a team have noticed there are many myths, exaggerations, and half-truths floating around about termites. We want to provide the average homeowner with practical takeaways and answers to all the common (and not-so-common) questions.

1. Signs of Termites

1. Signs of Termites icon

What should you keep an eye out for? Where should you look for termites? How can you tell an ant vs a termite? How much damage can termites wreak?

2. Common Questions about Termites

2. Common Questions about Termites icon

How do termites get inside the home? What are termite swarms? Can termites live above ground too?

3. Termite Myths or Facts

3. Termite Myths or Facts icon

Will a good termite treatment really last twenty years? How fast do termites destroy homes?

4. Anatomy of a Termite Colony

4. Anatomy of a Termite Colony icon

What is the lifecycle of a termite? What are termite castes? Which species should I be concerned about?

5. Treatment FAQs

5. Treatment FAQs icon

Are termiticides genuinely safe? How much does a termite treatment cost? Are there any organic options?

6. Takeaways for homeowners

6. Takeaways for homeowners icon

What to do if you have termites? What to do if you don't have termites?

Three Main Species Threaten Residential Structures in the US:

Subterranean Termites

(one-eight to one-half inch long)

  • Found in every state except Alaska. Subterranean termites are difficult to control considering they live beneath the soil. Subterranean termites can next 20 feet below the ground with a foraging radius of 150 feet.
  • An average-sized eastern subterranean colony contains about 300,000 workers.
  • Laboratory studies suggest that a colony of this size can consume 1 foot of a 2×4 board in 16 days.

Formosan Termites

(one-half inch long)

  • The Formosan termite is a type of subterranean termite that deserves its own attention.
  • Formosan termites can cause major structural damage to a home in six months, and almost complete destruction within two years.
  • Found in Hawaii and the Southeast, field colonies commonly extend into the millions, with a foraging radius over 300 feet. When compared to other termite species, Formosan termites generally cause more structural damage in a shorter period of time.
  • These Formosan Termites are commonly referred to as a “Super Termite” because they are the most aggressive and potentially destructive termite species in the United States
    *A medium-sized colony of 3 million Formosan termites could eat one foot of a 2×4 board in only two days.

Drywood Termites

(one-half inch long)

  • Primarily occurring in southeastern coastal states and up the coast of California.
  • With very small colonies of up to 2500 termites, Drywood termites do not require contact with the soil for survival and do not require the same amount of moisture as do subterranean termites.
  • External signs of damage are elusive with drywood termites.
  • Often, the only obvious signs of infestation are little mounds of fecal pellets building up underneath the infested wood or the appearance of tiny “kick-out” holes in the surface of the wood.
  • *Drywood termites used to be called “Furniture Termites” because colonies were often found in pieces of furniture. The concern for homeowners is structural damage that can occur after Drywood termites fly into the attic or second floor after swarming.

Termite Treatments:

In the vast majority of cases, new homes receive a termite treatment during construction that lasts anywhere from 6 months to 5 years, depending on application procedures, product quality, and environmental factors. For drywood termite control, tenting and fumigating a structure is the most common treatment.

Other Wood Destroying Insects
Old house borers, powder post beetles, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, and ambrosia beetles.

Although damage is caused by all, termites actually consume the wood they destroy. Termites and Carpenter ants are the biggest concerns to homeowners. All wood-destroying insects have the potential to cause structural damage, but most often their damage is merely cosmetic.


Question: 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?

Answer: 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.

Question: Are termiticides (products that resolve termite issues) safe for me and the environment?
Answer: 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 breakdown to protect the environment. The products themselves are very similar to the products that would be used on or in a consumer’s home.

Question: Will I have to leave the home for the treatment?
Answer: Only if a drywood termite treatment is performed with a fumigant. In that case, you need to leave for a couple days. Thankfully, the vase majority of termite issues are not from drywood termites.

Question: Why do you have to drill holes in concrete and dig a small trench around the house?
Answer: The holes are used to pump liquid products under the home. Baits can be effective; however 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.

Question: Are there any organic solutions or home remedies?
Answer: 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.

Question: How much does it cost to treat for termites?
Answer: This varies drastically 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-$2,000+

Question: What types of home repairs are typically needed after a termite infestation?
Answer: Structural repairs to replace damaged framing members will be required to safely support your home. Cosmetic repairs such as damage to finish carpentry may be desired by the homeowner.

Question: Why does my technician have such dreamy eyes?
Answer: Hey probably works for Insight Pest Solutions

Takeaways, If You Don’t Have Termites
Determine whether you have any termite warranties from previous treatments (perhaps during construction on a new home).
Remove any conducive conditions:

  • All ‘wood-to-soil’ contacts which may include wood piles, wood siding, support beams, and any other structural timbers of a home.
  • Plants or mulch from contact with the foundation or exterior walls.
  • 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
  • Repair damaged wood
  • Inspect any ‘problem areas’ regularly – looking for mud tubes, swarmers or damaged wood.

Get a (free) professional inspection each year. Many termite professionals will provide an inspection at no charge, just be careful they do not try to sell you something you don’t need.
If desired, preventive treatments can be made to the soil.

Takeaways, If You Do Have Termites
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.

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.

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

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

Sources:
www.pestworld.org
www.npma.org
www.entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures
www.extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/E-4.pdf
www.ohioonline.osu.edu/lines/pests.html
www.ppdl.purdue.edu/ppdl/index.html
www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/444/444-502/444-502.html
www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/termites/termite.html
www.web.ncsu.edu/abstract/science/wms-termites
www.nws.noaa.gov/hic
www.wikipedia.org
www.city-data.com
www.masseyservices.com/tag/termite-damage
www.orkin.com/termites
www.termites101.org/termite-basics/termites-by-region

For more information, see our termite control infographic

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