How to Put Your Termites on a Diet

Termite Damage 1 The motivation for termites is their stomach.  They are hungry for cellulose and will seek food from many sources.  They are sneaky eaters.  Termites create galleries, or tunnels, that go with the grain of the wood as they feed.  The tastiest wood is the springwood because it is soft and it leaves the heart-wood to keep the form of the structure.  The heart-wood form helps them keep their domicile secret so that you don’t know that they have finished their meal and are working on another eating establishment.  Only by tapping with a screwdriver or ice pick will you be able to detect the damage they have done to the structure.  By keeping a lookout for this type of destruction, you can determine if your home is infested or in the beginning stages of infestation.


There are a few ways that will help you discourage termites from coming into your home, which include:

  • Clearing your yard and foundation area of cardboard debris, excess wood and wood piles.  Make sure that your supply of fire wood is far enough away from your home and be sure to examine the wood you plan to burn before bringing it inside.
  • Make sure that your basement and crawlspaces have proper ventilation.  This will keep moisture from collecting and setting the stage for an infestation.
  • If you are a gardener, refrain from allowing your plants to have contact with your outside walls.  The plants allow the concrete to retain moisture and are a great source of travel for termites.
  • If at all possible, keep foam board and wood from coming in contact with the soil.  If there is wood in contact with the soil, be sure that it has been treated properly against termites.

This week is short and sweet, but we hope that the information will inspire you to seek out possible ways to prevent damage and how to detect damage that may have already occurred.

If you’ve got termite, how should the infestation be treated and prevent future occurrences?  Tune in next week for the answers!


The above information was derived from the text Secrets to a Pest Free Home by Richard C. Burton.   ©2003
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Got Termites? Now What?

You and/or your inspector have established the fact that you have an infestation of
termites.  Now what?  Before you can make a final decision about treating the problem, there are a few things that you must take into consideration, while dialoging with your pest control provider:

  • What type of termites is present in your home?
  • What materials have been used in the building of your home?
  • What is the condition of your home?
  • What structural features does your home have?
  • What part of the country do you live in?
  • How much moisture is present in the infested area?
  • What degree of assurance against infestation do you desire?
  • What treatments have been used on your home in the past?
  • How much time has elapsed since your last treatment?

Once these questions have been answered, it will be much easier for your pest control  provider to decide which of the newest treatments will best suite your needs.  Research in the field of termite treatment is on-going.  Researchers are constantly finding and refining new methods for the fight against termite infestation.  Because there are so many  different forms of treatment available, it is very likely that your pest control provider will combine a number of weapons to achieve the maximum results in termite control.  There are four basic types of treatment methods that are very effective in this fight:

Liquid termiticides – Being the most accepted of the four methods, liquid treatments are used where there is an active colony present.  Also, the liquid treatment will effectively create a barrier around your home.  This will keep the  termites where they belong—outside of your house and possibly prevent future  attacks.  If you are building a new home, this is an ideal time for the liquid termiticides to be applied.  If you have a slab foundation on a structure that is already built, trenching and drilling holes will be necessary to allow the pressure-injected termiticides to be introduced to the foundation and create a barrier.  To be effective, this barrier must have no breaks in it.

Foam termiticides – A foam treatment is useful because it is capable of reaching places where normal liquid treatment may fail.  Not only is the liquid termiticide present in this treatment, but the foam expands to create a barrier.  Places that this is especially effective are the base of chimneys, under porches that are dirt-filled and where as the structure settled, crack occurred.  The foam treatment is not suitable or effective for directly treating soil.  The pest control technician will usually apply an initial application of liquid termiticide, followed by foam in a secondary application.

Borate Treatments – A borate solution is sprayed directly on wood and then allowed to soak in.  This treatment has been around a long time, but they have only recently started using it as part of the line of termite treatments.  What happens is that the insects are repelled by the borates, but if the insect eats the treated wood, the liquid works on the enzymes in the stomach of the insect.  The insect will then starve to death because its body cannot absorb any nutrients for living.  Studies have shown that termites can be repelled for up to nine years with this treatment.  According to the source of this information, this treatment is good to use in new homes and one of its advantages is that this is a less toxic choice than the other methods may provide.

Bait Stations – This is a relatively newer type of treatment for termites.  This method attacks the colonies in the soil.  This method requires stations to be placed about 10 feet apart around the perimeter of the building and then diligently monitoring the stations on a scheduled basis for termite activity.  The bait is eaten by termites and carried back to the colony, where others share the food and eventually the colony is destroyed.   Bait stations are best used as a preventative measure for new infestations.  Bait stations by themselves cannot control an infestation in a home.  But, a baiting station along with another of the conventional methods will help to get the termites under control and finally eliminated from the properties.  Once the termites are under control, then you may be able to rely only on a baiting station to prevent future infestations.

With the right kind of treatment, you can worry less about your home being a meal for some pest!

Next time we’ll discuss why it’s best to leave termites to the professionals.


The above information was derived from the text Secrets to a Pest Free Home by Richard C. Burton.   ©2003

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Why Can’t I do it Myself?

“Why do I need a professional to come to my house and spray for termites?  I can do it myself, right?”  Many home improvement centers have a section for termite control and for self-install baiting systems around the home, but these may not be enough to  eliminate the problem if you have termites.  Just spraying when termites swarm or spraying the wood will most likely not be enough of a deterrent to take care of the bigger problem, the colony.   If you have read my previous blog or any other blog that writes about termites, you will know that termites are not solitary insects.  They come in large numbers, which is why a little spraying won’t get rid of them.

If you check with your local extension services, you will find that they most often suggest that you get in touch with a professional for most pest control—especially for termites.
Below are the reasons why professional control is a much better choice:

1)   To effectively establish a chemical barrier around your home you will need to dig a trench in the soil on both sides of the foundation and piers that support your home.
Just spraying on the surface of the dirt will not alleviate the source of the problem.  The trenches will need to be between four to six inches wide and six inches deep.  Not the kind of thing the normal home-owner wishes to tackle.

2)   There is a larger amount of chemical that should be used for this treatment than is usually purchased for pest control.  For example, you would need about 112 gallons of diluted (1%) termiticide just to treat the soil along the foundation trench for a single-story home that measures about 1200 sq. ft. (40’ x 30’).  Because the amount depends on the type of construction, you might need in excess of 150 gallons of termiticide for this
small structure. Not many homeowners have the equipment to apply this amount of
chemical or know the safety issues involved in its use.

3)   If you have slabs, you would need to drill holes in the slab in order to place the treatment.  After drilling, the insecticide is applied using pressure injection through
the holes.  Specialized treatment of the termiticide and training and equipment and chemical usage is a must to avoid any bodily injury, damage of utilities, etc.  Your house will be vulnerable to future termite invasion if you “just spray.”  Even though this step doesn’t seem necessary, if you don’t do it then the job is incomplete.

4)   You see that the amount of chemical is large, and to buy that much over-the-counter product will be very expensive.  Ohio State University has estimated that an over-the-counter chemical could cost at least two and one-half times what it would cost a licensed pest control operator for the same job.

5)   If you’ve allowed a professional to install baiting stations, it’s important to be sure that they are diligently monitored.  Baiting stations are often used in addition to liquid termite treatment, so just using the baiting system by itself may not be enough.  When you have a professional treat your termites, expect to see your technician for not only
installation, but monitoring as well.  Don’t expect instant results.  It may take anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year to get a termite infestation under control.

Even if you read the labels and apply as directed, a homeowner may be able to take care of the immediate need, but there will not be any long-lasting effects.  The source that I used for this article says, “’Protection’ against new infestations is not the same thing as ‘elimination’ of an existing termite infestation.”  This is because most homeowners will not or cannot do the amount of research that is necessary to know about the behavior of termites and their colonies.  If you already have an active colony, they may ignore do-it-yourself baiting stations because they have already found a source of food and will snub your food.

Even the guarantee of nine-month protection is not a sure thing.  The treatment may have long expired when the swarmers begin flying.  Your best bet is to leave it to the
professionals.  With the correct recommendation and treatment by your termite technician, your home can be termite free.


The above information was derived from the text Secrets to a Pest Free Home by Richard C. Burton. ©2003

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