Termites can cause a lot of damage to a home if given just half a chance. This guide will help you be able to find affordable solutions that will help you get rid of this pest for good.
What Are Termites?
Termites are colony pests that come in 5 different types. They feed on cellulose, which means every home has the opportunity to play host to this silent killer. Termites can appear in any plant or wood materials without any indication they are there. The termite is specifically designed to tear away tough cellulose materials, but they will feed on a book just as easily as they’ll feed on cabinetry.
Here are the types of termites that you may find in your home.
- Conehead termites.
- Dampwood termites.
- Drywood termites.
- Formosan termites.
- Subterranean termites.
No matter where your home may be located, any or all of these types of termites may be present. Drywood termites tend to be the most common as they live and consume wood within the home. Subterranean termites build mounds outdoors and then extensive tunnel systems that access areas of your home from underneath.
Termites are a constant, ongoing threat in every season. That’s why it is very important to have a pest control plan that is ready to implement at any time. It does not take long for a colony of termites of any type to be able to cause an extensive amount of damage in any home.
Signs of Termites
The most common sign of a termite infestation is when there are winged varieties that are trying to escape the home. Homeowners will find them around their windows and doors especially, but they may be anywhere outside of the colony. It is also fairly common to see a cabinet infestation of termites have winged pests hovering around the colony site. This discovery usually happens during the first days of Spring.
Here’s some good news: you don’t have to wait until Spring to find out if you have a termite infestation. There are some common warning signs that can be observed at any time of year that can let you know that there’s a colony of these pests hanging around.
- Paint that has bubbled or cracked. Termites are feeding off of the interior of a structure, so as they approach the surface of it, the paint or coating on the surface will begin to bubble. There might be frass within the bubble, which is what the waste of the termite is called. Walls might also crack in ways that aren’t normal for foundational cracking.
- Solid wood now sounds hollow. Termites will leave the outer structure of a cellulose item intact, carving out the interior like a hollow chocolate Easter bunny. Tapping on the wood leaves a slight echo because the sound vibrates.
- There are mud tubes outside. Termite tubes look a little different than hornet or wasp tubes. Wasps and hornets tend to stay congregated in one place. Termites will spread along exterior walls, wood beams, and down in crawl spaces.
If Spring has turned into Summer and you find a bunch of discarded wings in your home, this is also an indication that termites are present. You’ll need to remove the pest completely to recover from the infestation.
How To Kill Termites
Before killing termites, it is important to remove any easy food sources for them. For many homeowners, this often means moving the firewood pile from beside the house. Any wood, lumber, or even paper debris that is near a home’s foundation can become a home for a colony of termites to begin. Make sure to grind out or pull out any stumps that are near the home and any other plant-based debris that is present as well.
Termites also need an entry point into the home to infest the interior of it. Make sure that there are screens in place on every outside vent to prevent these pests from moving in. Regularly inspect any decking, fencing, and other wood components of the home and take action to remove the pests immediately if they are found.
There are DIY, chemical, and non-chemical solutions that will remove a colony of termites. The most common non-chemical solution is to install a barrier around the home. This typically happens when the home is being built, but a new barrier can be installed in a similar fashion to a new waterproof membrane along a foundation.
Termites also struggle to move through sandy soil. Installing a barrier around your foundation, that is sand could slow these pests down. Combined with steel mesh on any vent, this can be an effective solution. Certain fungi and nematodes have also been shown as being effective at eliminating a termite colony.
Certain chemical solutions are also approved for use and may be available through an online store, at a local hardware supply store, or through a professional pest eliminator. The most common type of chemical solution to remove termites is through the use of bait. The bait is set out around the area of the colony, it feeds off of it, and eventually it dies off. There are three other common chemical solutions that are also approved for use.
- Liquid pesticides that are specifically formulated for termites and applied to the soil.
- Building materials that are already infused with a pesticide.
- Wood treatments that are applied as needed.
It is important to apply any chemical solution to kill termites as instructed. These chemical pesticides can get into the water system of the home and any surrounding drinking wells. When this happens, the treatment is generally not effective against the pest. That’s why having some proven DIY methods of termite pest control can be extremely helpful to eliminate stubborn colonies.
DIY Termite Treatment
There are several products that are on the market today that will help any homeowner eliminate the threat of termites pretty effectively. Many of them are available for the cost of having a local pest control professional come out to treat the property. Here are the best, proven DIY termite solutions that will bring you results.
Spectracide Terminate Stakes
These are stakes that can be installed around the property in just minutes. One package contains 15 stakes and once installed, they will last throughout the season. Most homeowners need to change these stakes out 2x per year. When termite activity is detected by the stakes, they’ll pop out of the ground so you know where an active colony happens to be. It kills foraging termites and you can then use other elimination techniques for stubborn colonies.
Ortho Home Defense Max
Guaranteed to keep termites away for 5 years in areas that are treated, this DIY solution is perfect for around home foundations and stored lumber. It’s available in trenching and non-trenching formats and the concentration solution makes 32 gallons of spray. The active ingredient is Bifenthrin, which is similar to many professional solutions. It kills the termites, stops them from coming back, and is available for around $20 for a 16 oz bottle of concentrate. That’s good value.
When you need an indoor solution for a termite infestation, then this interior foam is an effective solution. It can be immediately used and works very well in wall voids and spot treatments on tough subterranean infestations. This treatment has even been approved to be applied in restaurants and other food or feed handling buildings, so it can work in virtually any home to help eliminate a tough termite problem. Make sure to seal up the void after a treatment is applied, however, so pets and kids don’t get into it. One can of foam goes a long, long way.
Termite Treatment Cost
The size and scope of the termite colony that needs to be removed will have a direct reflection on the cost of every treatment program. Larger colonies are always more expensive to remove than smaller colonies.
Termite treatment costs can vary from community to community. If you’re planning on hiring a professional pest eliminator, then monthly services are the usual solution. At $40 per month, this would be an annual cost of $480 for termite control both indoors and out. For heavy infestations, weekly appointments may be necessary for up to 3 months, which would increase the costs of professional care up to 4x the standard amount until the problem is resolved.
Home treatments that are effective generally fall into the $20-$60 price ranges. At this price point, homeowners receive a concentrated product that can be sprayed in most outdoor locations or used in wall voids and termite tubes. Multiple applications may be necessary throughout the year, but DIY solutions tend to be about 50% the cost of professional solutions.
How To Prevent Termites
After putting up proactive preventions such as screens, sand, and removing termite feeding sources, it is important to make sure a home’s plumbing is performing adequately. Any water leaks from the plumbing can become a homing beacon for termites. These pests feed on cellulose materials, but they also need to have water. Without water present, there won’t be termites.
What happens if it rains regularly? Although you can’t stop the rain, you can prevent water from pooling up around a foundation. If there are standing pools of water that develop after every rainfall, then take action to eliminate the places where water congregates because that will also be where the termites will congregate.
Cleaning out your gutter system is also important. Clogged gutters are going to leak and that will create a water source right near a home’s foundation. If the gutter system expels water freely into the yard, consider installing basins instead so that the precipitation has a direct drainage system to use instead of creating wet spots in the yard.
Having a good air flow throughout a home is also very important. Good circulation prevents moisture build-up and that naturally prevents termites from forming a colony. This is especially important around the bathroom of a home. Install venting fans at the highest location of the ceiling since hot air with water vapor rises to prevent moisture from lingering along the walls and creating the dampness that termites are going to crave.
Natural Termite Control
If you don’t like the idea of a chemical solution and you’ve already taken other preventative measures and still have termites, then here are some effective natural controls that can help you to eliminate colonies pretty easily.
- Use a wet cardboard trap. If you have some corrugated boxes in your garage or storage closet, then you’ve got the perfect termite trap. Wet that cardboard down and set it near where you suspect a termite colony. Once you see the pests feeding off of the cellulose in the box, you can remove it and burn it.
- Let the sun work its magic. Sunlight will typically kill termites. If you expose a colony to bright sunlight during the day, it will typically die. Place infested furniture in the sunlight outside to promote termite death. If the sunlight isn’t an option, UV lights that replicate sunlight may also work. You may need to clear away brush, roots, and landscaping items to expose the colony to light.
- Use nematodes. Parasitic nematodes are worms that find termites to be a very tasty dinner. These can be found in many stores, including online stores.
- Remove mulch from around the home. Mulch to a termite is like walking into an all-you-can-eat buffet. Not only is it made of cellulose, but when it gets wet, mulch retains the moisture very effectively. Sometimes just removing mulch from around a home can eliminate an entire termite threat.
If you want to know how to get rid of termites effectively, then be sure to use this guide to plan your system of attack. Just one colony can cause several thousand dollars of damage to a home. Take action today so that tomorrow, your home can be termite free.