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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