Termites, the silent destroyer, often hide in your basement or walls and you can’t see any damage that is being done. There are over 2,300 species of termites and knowing which type is important in knowing how to get rid of it. It is very difficult to find and locate termites because they live inside of the wood or underground. They leave very few signs that they are there. The most common signs of termite infiltration are: wing discards, wood damage, swarming of termites, mud tunnels and mounds of termite droppings.
Termites play an important role in nature. They rid the forest of dead trees. Their tunnels spread the fungi and bacteria to further decay the rotten wood. They just have the problem of discerning what is dead wood and what is not. Termites are in every state except for Alaska. The main question that homeowner ask when confronted by a termite problem is “How do I get rid of them?”
What is a termite?
A termite is a small, pale insect that lives in large colonies. Most termites feed on trees or wood products. They are related to the cockroach and can be harmful to the structure of your home if they aren’t eliminated. They have been on Earth for over 250,000 million years.
Shielding is also another method that has been used in the past and has been found to be ineffective. Shielding is placing a piece of aluminum that goes over the foundation and meets the siding. This only makes the termites build their tunnels to go up and over the shielding.
Are termite colonies the same as bee colonies?
While both insects are social, termite colonies have a population of ¼ million insects at a time. There is a king and queen who are in charge of the reproductive needs. Soldier termites guard the cell while worker termites gather food. Both of these types are blind and rely on their sense of touch and the smell of chemical signals to locate the food and water. When the termites leave the colony, they often leave tunnels because they have delicate bodies which can become dehydrated. If you stumble across a tunnel, you should destroy it immediately and watch for its reoccurrence.
How do I stop them before they enter the house?
By maintaining your home, you can notice any signs that termites are trying to enter. You can also do a home inspection. So, don your grubbiest clothes and a powerful flashlight and begin. Outside of the house, look for signs of tunneling or shelter tubes. Next on the list, inspect that the drain spouts are draining properly. This will make sure that the water is moving away from the house. Now it’s time for the dirty part. If you have a crawl space, inspect under the house for the shelter tubes and if found, destroy them. Since you are already on the ground, check the piping and faucets for any type of leakage. Fix them immediately.
I found a colony of termites, what should I do?
After finding the colony, sit back and relax for a minute. Your house will not crash down on you. A colony of termites eat about 1/5 ounce of wood per day. Next, you should call 2-3 professional pest control company. Make sure that they are reputable and offer a guarantee. After they inspect your home, ask what their recommendations are and the safely of the products. If you have children or pets, make sure that it is safe for them. After you are satisfied, the cost of exterminating your home is going to be several thousand dollars.
What pesticides are they using now?
The newer pesticides are less effective but more environmentally correct. Torpedo and Dragnet are the two newest ones and contain permethrin, a natural insecticide. These two products are used by organic farmers. They will biodegrade in 5-7 years and then need to be reapplied if the termites are still on your property. They are toxic to fish and bees. If some of this pesticide spills on you, wash immediately with soap and water. Dursban is more toxic and lasts longer. The EPA is considering banning all pesticides for use by handy men and do-it-your-self.
Are there any new products that will be available soon?
Researchers have been working on a bait system that is tainted with an insecticide. The worker termite brings it back into the colony where other termites eat it and die. Extracts from wood are being investigated as natural poisons. Chemicals that destroy the termites’ protozoa in the stomach of the termite so that the termite starves are also being looked at. These are all in the experimental stage of development and will need years of research and testing before they become available to the general public. Until there is another method, prevention and remedies that are on the market are all the materials available to keep those pests away.
If you are buying a home or refinancing your current home, you may be asked to have a home inspection by the bank that is issuing the loan. If there is any sign of infestation, the damage should be fixed before you take ownership. Getting your new home exterminated should be a negotiation point is setting the price. Some states require this before a bank will issue the loan. Your real estate agent should know if there have been any past occurrences of termites.
All types of homes are targets of termites whether they are brick, wood or masonry can be housing termite colonies. Homes that are being built should have the wood pretreated by a termite repellant to stop them before they enter the home. Most homeowner’s insurance does not cover any damage done by termites. However, a bond might be purchased if you live in a termite infested zone.
I am moving; will the termites come with me?
The answer is probably not. Termites would be without their colony and have no way to survive if they had climbed into one of your moving boxes.
I use mulch in my garden. Will termite infiltrate it?
Mulch gives a termite everything it needs to survive. Food, water and shelter are provided by the mulch and make it a good place to live. Experts say to keep mulch at least 6 inches away from the house and it should not be more than 4 inches thick.
My neighbors are having an exterminator come. Will the termites move into my house?
If they are using a repellent insecticide, then the termites might move into a hospitable environment, which may be your home. Non-repellent insecticides affect the colony where they die, so they will not be moving into your home.
Termites have been around for a long time due to the fact that the workers “taste test” all food before it is feed to the queen. Termites swarm only 2 times a year looking for a new structure to start a colony. They appear in the late afternoon and can be found near a light source. If you see this, then you know that a colony is near either in the yard or in the home. If you are worried about the hazards of any pesticides being used, you should have the air in your home tested for pollutants. Then you should follow the professional’s advice on how to lower the pollution and restore your home.
The best way to prevent an infiltration of termites or any other pest is to maintain your house and grounds. Remove anything that will attract these pests. Once you find any sort of pest, get estimates from professionals, do your research into the materials that are being used and then keep up your inspections of your home. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a ton of headaches.