Termites are in every state in America. They are tiny insects, only the size of a small ant, but do tremendous damage. Your home is ten times more likely to be damaged by termites than it is by fire. Termites can get into your home in 1/32nd of an inch and infest an average of one in thirty homes each and every single year.
If you are not sure if you have termites, there are some signs of them. One sign can be a strange tube of mud, sometimes as long as several feet, running from the ground, up past the foundation. This is a sign of subterranean termites. These are big trouble and you need them out. Those mud tubes are a termite highway for the subterranean termites to get wood to eat and moisture. If you see these mud tubes on the side of the house, it is a sure sign of termites.
The next reliable sign is wings on the ground. After a rain, oftentimes termites will swarm. Flying termites are in their reproductive stage and will have hatched nearby if they swarmed in your house. If you see these wings, then termites have burrowed close by after mating and this is going to be a problem. You can take the wings in to an exterminator to be examined in case they are flying ants and not termites. (Which would be better in terms of damage).
Termites eat wood from the inside out, making long tunnels out of sight. You will not see huge holes but instead will see dirt at the base of a beam where dirt should not be. You can poke or tap on beams and joists as well to see if the wood sounds hollow, and dig at the wood to see if it is solid or not. If the termite chambers are close to the surface, the wood can appear cracked.
One kind of termite called drywood termites, are apparent by seeing sawdust. They drill tiny irregular holes into the wood that you almost can’t see except for the sawdust like droppings.
If you don’t have termites now, that’s great but you may have them in the future and you can use various preventive products to create a barrier against them.
Thankfully, there is modern technology to treat these pests and the even better news is you can also do this yourself, if you choose. Never stack firewood in your house and avoid dry rot and also prune undergrowth at your foundation. These are things that can attract them.
One remedy is to use liquid termiticide to treat infestations. This is the most common method. Some homeowners don’t like to use chemicals but this is a very effective treatment. Regularly doing this will also help keep infestations at bay. Small trenches need to be dug all around the foundation of your home, usually by a licensed pest professional. Then they will bore tiny holes into your foundation and fill them with liquid termiticide which will spread to the termites and kill them. Usually you need to reapply this treatment every year.
Another way of dealing with these pesky little critters is a bait treatment. This is very minimally invasive and is relatively easy. Baits or traps are set all along the perimeter by the professional and the termites eat the contents. This spreads the pesticide throughout the termite colony and is very good at killing their swarms. Also something that has to be replaced annually and is susceptible to damage from pets, weather and other issues.
Lastly, fumigation can be used, but is considered a bit extreme because of the strength of the pesticides. If you have several colonies of drywood termites, this might be the only choice. In Arizona, this is usually done because it is necessary in the hot, dry climate. The home is fully tarped off and then gasses permeate every single place the termites live and kill them. This can be expensive and homeowners have to vacate their homes for several days.
Treatments vary by location and specific issues and a pest professional who is licensed can tell you the best remedy for your specific situation.
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Written By: Bob Jenkins
Budget My Build
P.O. Box 72987
Phoenix, AZ 85050
Office: (602) 579-9660
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