Termite Control: What to do when you find termites
Termites are a type of urban pest that can cause serious damages to properties because they feed on dead plant material, including the wood that furniture and house structures are made of. They are known as “silent destroyers” because sometimes, they are not detected until the destruction has begun.
What attracts termites in the house? How fast do termites spread? What happens if you ignore them? Is it hard to get rid of termites? There are many questions about termites and termite control, but let’s start by the beginning.
What Are Termites?
Termites are insects that belong to the phylum Arthropoda group. There are more than 2,000 species and, in the US alone, you can find over 40 different types. Although they look quite similar, they have different characteristics. They live in colonies with a queen and a king, which are larger than the worker class. Their colors can vary from white to brown and some of them, called “reproductive,” have big wings and can fly.
What Role Do Termites Play?
Colonies can be made of up to a million termites and they are eating 24 hours a day. Because they can destroy dwellings, they are considered pests. However, when in nature, they play an important role in the ecosystem. They participate in the last link in the food chain, allowing the acceleration of the wood decomposition.
There are two common types of termites that affect households. Subterranean termites live in large colonies underground and can spread in tunnels, feeding of wood materials present in the environment. On the other hand, drywood termites can infest houses without touching the soil. They can infest both wooden furniture and wood used in construction.
What Time of Day Are Termites Most Active?
Depending on the species and other environmental factors such as humidity and temperature, termite colonies can be more or less active. Swarming usually happens during spring and summertime.
Mature colonies typically produce one swarm per year, which may consist of thousands of insects. They are more active in the morning, evening, or mid-day. It is rare that they swarm at night.
What is the First Sign of Termites?
Termites can be found in any piece of wood in your home and can remain invisible for years. It is recommended to pay attention to some signs that can alert you about their presence. If you know that they are in your neighborhood, check your place as fast as you can. To tell if termites are active in your house, you can check:
- A particular sound: Soldier termites shake their bodies or hit their heads against the wood when there is disturbance or danger within the colony. Also, the workers are very noisy when eating. Put your ears close to any place made of wood. Can you hear termites in your walls?
- Winged termites: One of the very first signs of an infestation is the flying termite. You can see them when both males and females leave their nest to find a pair and establish a new colony. Also, you can find discarded wings as they often lose them after finding a mate.
- White ants: Termites can look like ants because they have a similar size, shape and sometimes they behave in the same way. If you see insects similar to ants but with a light translucent color (white or creamy), straighter antennas, and thicker waist, they are likely to be termites. Remember that white ants don’t exist.
- Hollow wood: Termites feed on wood from the inside out. Many times, they leave only a thin layer or just the paint. When you touch or hit the object and it sounds hollow, it’s another sign of this plague.
- Difficulty to open wooden doors and windows: When the weather is humid, we often have difficulty opening wooden doors and windows. Sometimes, this indicates the presence of termites because they produce moisture when eating and tunneling, causing the wood to sag and thus making it more difficult to open.
- Tunnels in wood: This is difficult to see from the outside but if you see pieces of broken timber or wood with little holes, they might be already there.
- Droppings: Termite droppings are small black substances that can be found around the infested area. They usually don’t defecate in the tunnels they build, but they push the feces out of the hole and deposit them near the nest entrance.
Termite Treatment: What Happens if You Don’t Treat Termites?
If you detect any of the above signs, you need to act quickly. You may have had termites for a long time and be aware, the longer you wait the higher the damage is.
If you leave them untreated, they can deeply affect your dwelling, destroying your furniture, doors, and windows. If major wooden structures are affected, it can take thousands of dollars to be repaired and this damage is generally not covered by home owners insurance. The U.S. Department of Agriculture informs that more than 600,000 homes are destroyed every year, costing over $ 40 billion.
How long does it take termites to destroy a house? It all depends on the size of the colony but, when they infest a home, it can take about three years for the damage to be detected. In only eight years, they can finish with the wood components of your home.
Termites do not go away on their own as other kinds of pests. As soon as they find a way into your house, they will remain feeding on your wood for years if you don’t stop them.
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Termite Control: How Do You Stop Termites From Spreading?
Once you have detected the presence of termites in your home, you need to act urgently to prevent their spread. First, contact a professional pest control service to determine how severe the infestation is.
In the meantime, there are some measures you can take to contain them.
- Clean your house very well.
- Repair leaking pipes and faucets.
- Remove all kinds of debris from your backyard.
- Verify that there is no wood accumulation near your home.
- Take out all the things you find infested in the sun.
- Try to find the source of the termites, that could be a tree near your home. If possible, remove it.
How Do You Get Rid of Termites on Your Own?
In many cases, the termite infestation can be treated by yourself. Some termite treatments are affordable and effective to eradicate the colonies by homeowners. What kills termites instantly?Here are some of the most effective methods:
- Poison bait: This method consists of installing poison baits around the foundations of your home. Each station is made of a plastic tube with a piece of poisoned wood inside. Since termites carry toxic wood to nests, this approach is a good way to eliminate entire colonies. You can use this kind of treatment to get rid of termites in your walls, as they are hard-to-reach places.
- Poison barrier: This approach is quite effective and can be applied inside and outside the dwelling. First, you need to make a continuous spread of liquid poison around the house. When the termites touch the liquid, they carry the poison to their colony and end up poisoning it.
- Boric acid: This is a less toxic way to treat a termite infestation. Boric acid comes in the form of powder and can be used with a hand duster to spread on damaged wood, cracks, crevices, and holes. The acid directly attacks the digestive system of the insects killing them in a few days. It is effective both indoors and outdoors, but loses effectiveness when it rains.
- Diatomaceous earth: This is a safe and non-toxic method against termites. Diatomaceous earth is an organic powder made from fossil remains of small aquatic organisms, the diatoms. It can be applied the same as boric acid, with a feather duster.
Some home remedies may help to kill termites but they don’t reach the colonies, so they are not effective methods. The use of bleach or ammonia, that you can find in products like Windex, are not effective in solving a termite infestation.
Termite Exterminator: What Kills Termites Naturally?
If you are reluctant to use poisons and toxic chemicals, there are some natural methods you can use to eliminate termites and prevent greater damage. These methods include the use of nematodes (parasitic worms that you can buy online or in some specific stores) and sodium borate, among others.
One of the most popular natural treatments is any kind of vinegar, including apple cider vinegar. You need to mix half a cup of this product with the juice of two lemons, place it in a container with a sprayer and apply it over the infested areas. How does vinegar kill termites? When they come into contact with the preparation, the acid will kill the termites. You need to do this regularly to make sure you cover all the risk areas.
Some essential oils can be also used to treat termites but, what scent do termites hate? You can try with cinnamon and orange oil. Termites also hate sunlight and heat. If you can take the piece of wood or the furniture attacked by termites and expose it to the sun during the summer, you can get rid of them. If you cannot do that, you can still shine on the area with UV lamps with similar results.
Do Most Homes Have Termites?
A national survey issued in the US showed that 13% of the homeowners have experienced this kind of plague in the last 12 months and about 22% of them suffered a structural problem.
If you’re wondering what attracts termites in the house, you must know that they create colonies around their food source. Termites prefer soft and rotting wood, as well as moist spaces. That is why many times, houses and their surroundings can create ideal environments.
Some common things that attract these pests are firewood and piles of wood, excess foliage and dead trees, leaves and tree limbs, mulch, and clogged gutters.
Is it Okay to Buy a House With Termites?
During the home inspection to buy a property, many buyers find out that the place has some termite damages. Although this can be terrifying, it is not always a bad idea. First, you need to detect how bad the problem is and if it can be repaired by consulting an expert who does termite inspection.
Once you know the costs, you can use that to negotiate a better price with the seller. Some professionals suggest that you can purchase a house with this kind of issue as long as the floor joists or the main foundations are not infested. Thus, damage is considered superficial with low repair costs, mainly on the surface of wood structures.
Termite Control and Treatment: How Do I Permenantly Get Rid of Termites?
Because there are some methods to attempt to eliminate termites’ infestations on your own, many times the problem is not detected until it becomes very serious. When this happens, it is difficult to contain the pest spread without professional assistance from a termite control expert.
How much does it cost for termite removal? In the US, termite removal cost can vary from $ 220 to $ 900. Most people pay nearly $ 550 for an average treatment, but it all depends on the complexity of the problem, the size of the structure, and the type and number of methods required. Fumigation with tenting is the most expensive method, that may cost $ 2,500 or more.
When to Call a Termite Exterminator for Termite Inspection or Termite Control ?
If you suspect you may have termites, you should call a termite control specialist right away. Every day matters. The expert will first do a termite inspection and perform other tasks if needed.
If you live in Durham, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, Mebane or nearby, contact Scott’s Turf and Pest Services for all your local pest control, bed bug treatment, termite control, pest removal, and pest exterminator needs.
Call us at 919-923-2361.