To determine the best termite treatment for you home or business, you first need an accurate understanding of the type of infestation you’re dealing with.
When you consider that termites cost businesses and homeowners billions of dollars in damages every year it is no surprise that of all the pests that can harm a home, termites are the most notorious.
Yet many homeowners simply do not know very much about these tiny insects or what to do if they are discovered colonizing within the walls of their property.
It is our goal to make you more aware and informed about termites and the various treatments that work best for the different types of termites as well as different types of infestations.
There is no single termite treatment that is better than others, because it all depends on what kind of infestation you have. Professional exterminators will take into many factors when deciding on the best treatment option for your home. They will determine the following:
- How large and aged the infestation is?
- What kind of termite is present in your structure?
- How vulnerable is your house to repeat infestations? (This will be dependent on what region of the world you live in and how many and what species of termites live there.)
The best treatment varies for different infestations
First of all, termites continually reproduce and the size of their colony grows larger with time. The size of a five-year-old termite colony may reach several thousand termites whereas the size of a thirty-year-old termite colony may grow to millions of termites.
Because of this, an older termite colony can obviously cause much more damage and will often require thorough treatment methods like fumigation or heat tenting, as well as more extensive repair of affected structural wood.
If you have an infestation in your house that is relatively new then sometimes what is known as spot treatment could be a good option. This is just what it sounds like. If the infestation is limited to a small area or “spot” the exterminator can simply treat just that area. This is a relatively simple procedure that some homeowners will choose to do themselves.
If your structure has been infested by drywood termites for a considerably longer amount of time then the best way to eliminate the established termite colony is via fumigation.
This is something that should be done by professional pest control personnel. Some people are tempted to try to use simple insect sprays for termites. These, however, are usually ineffective for getting rid of termites because termites live, eat, reproduce and tunnel inside the wood away from the reach of spray.
If you have a newer house you are most likely less at risk than if you own an older home but it depends on what state you live in. Most states require a professional termite inspection to be conducted and documented prior to the sale of any real estate. If any termites are found during this inspection they must be professionally exterminated and documented as well as damages repaired prior to the sale.
The average home is sold every 5 to 10 years and has this inspection conducted. If termites are found during the inspection, extermination is conducted too. Fortunately, this is not enough time for a typical termite colony to grow to a size where extensive damage can be done. Termites may continually reproduce and eat the cellulose from the wood of your home, but, thankfully, they usually do this fairly slowly.
If you have owned your home for a longer period than 5 – 10 years, then it may be a good idea to have yearly inspections done. Many people neglect this important task of home ownership and termites can establish large colonies over a period of a few decades. When these termite colonies grow to such a large size they can cause significant damage to a structure and the cost of treating them increases.
How to prevent termite problems in the first place
If you are one of those homeowners who unfortunately discovers that you have a well-developed and older termite colony present in the structure you live in it would be best for you to get thorough fumigation conducted.
One of the best forms of treatment for termites on the market is solid prevention. This is also known as termite pre-treatment. This can be achieved through many methods but the main ones are the following:
- Keep mulch, firewood, and deadfall away from your foundation and out of your yard as much as possible.
- Control any water leaks inside or near your home as soon as possible since damp, moist, wood is something termites crave.
- Keep landscape plants around or near your home pruned. Don’t leave dead branches on shrubs and trees.
The main gist of all these things is to not give the termites any reason to be within proximity of your home or property because even if they are gnawing their way through a dead branch in your yard, that means they are just that much closer to your house… not good. Don’t give termites a reason to be near your house!
Now let’s explore the different treatment options available today to give you a better idea of some that might fit your situation:
- Liquid Termite Treatment: This involves drilling holes into wood or foundation during spot treatment and injecting the liquid into the infested area. As prevention, it involves digging a trench around your home’s foundation and treating the soil as it is filled back in the trench with a termiticide that typically keeps termites from penetrating this barrier for 5 years.
- Termite Bait Systems: Involves placing bait stations that have a piece of wood or paper in each unit around the foundation of the home. A pest control professional will typically visit routinely throughout the year to check these for signs of termites. If he discovers any, then he places a different type of termiticide than the liquid termite treatments that are designed to stay on the foraging termites without killing them so that they take it back to the colony. Once it reaches the colony it should eventually spread to the queen at which point the colony will perish soon after. This can take quite a good amount of time, sometimes a year or more depending on the size of the colony however termite damage is not spread very quickly so this is not a major concern unless the termite colony is already very aged and extensive.
- Termite Fumigation or Termite Tenting: Fumigation is the most complete and thorough termite eradication technique but it has a downside. It involves evacuating the home of all people and pets for several days, covering up all your food, pet food, and medications, or removing them. After a few days, you can return yourself, your pets, and your food and medications. This type of termite treatment is best for old, extensive, infestation colonies. An added plus of this treatment is that the residue from the termiticide also prevents future infestations
Some people prefer to opt for more natural termite control methods when they are viable. Luckily, there are some very effective natural control methods available. One of the more common and popular treatments at the moment is orange oil treatment for termite infestations but it is really only effective for spot treatment of a limited termite infestation.
What’s the difference between liquid termite treatment and termite baiting systems?
Termite bait stations are not intended to kill termites immediately. Instead, it is meant to contaminate termites who come in contact with the bait and then rely on the social nature of termites to carry the poison back and spread it to the entire colony. The goal is for it to eventually kill the queen termite since without her the termite colony will perish.
Keep in mind this doesn’t happen overnight. It can take up to a year or longer depending on how extensive the infestation is. Another factor that affects the total amount of time from initial contact with the baiting system until the queen termite’s death is what time of the year the treatment first takes place.
For instance, if the bait system is emplaced in the fall, it will take longer to reach and kill the queen since termites slow down and are less active during the winter months. If you emplace the bait systems during the spring, the opposite is true.
Difference Between Termite Heat Treatment and Termite Fumigation
Whole structure fumigation or heat treatment is usually recommended only after an established drywood termite colony is identified by a professional termite inspection. The other approach besides whole structure termite treatments would be protective wood treatments, but this is more of a preventative measure than a way to get rid of drywood termites.
Heat treatment, which is sometimes called termite heat fumigation, is very similar to fumigation but instead of using fumigant pesticides, it uses heat to kill termites.
Termite specialists set up special heaters to spread hot air through the home, typically between 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. To kill drywood termites, the internal temperature of the wood must reach at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 35 degrees. This is because drywood termites live and take shelter inside the wood. A big benefit of heat treatment over fumigation is that heat treatment usually takes less than a day and avoids the need for using fumigants.
There are some risks to heat treatment:
- Heat treatment offers no protection against future infestations.
- Home appliances can be damaged by heat treatment. The termite specialist may recommend having some removed from the home prior to the heat treatment.
- Heat treatment is not 100 % effective. When termites are located in structural timber (which is thicker) heat treatment is less effective because it is not feasible to raise the temperature of the inner portion of structural timber to the amount needed to kill all the termites and termite eggs.