How To Get Rid Of Termites

The presence of a termite colony in a home or structure can be a stressful and expensive occurrence. Before panicking, it is important to identify whether there are definitely termites present or if the warning signs or damage stem from other causes.

However, if it is ultimately determined termites have established a colony, there are treatment options that should be considered in order to get rid of the pest.

Signs of Termites 

There are multiple warning signs that can alert a homeowner to the presence of termites on their property.

1. Frass​

Frass, the dried out fecal pellets of drywood termites, is often found on windowsills or doorjambs of a home suffering from a termite infestation.

Frass is not always an indication of current activity, though, as these pellets can remain long after the termite colony has vacated the structure. If these droppings are spotted, a termite control professional should be contacted in order to conduct an investigation.

2. Abandoned Wings

Abandoned wings are also an indication that termites have been present. Reproductive swarmers will shed their wings once a mating site is found, so wings can either be a sign of potential activity. 

3. Mud Tubes​

The presence of mud tubes leading from the ground to a wall or another structure is a sure sign of either past or present termite activity. Termites use these tubes as protective tunnels between their nests and a feeding site.

Exposing the interior of the tunnel and checking for live termites can be a further indication of current termite infestation.

4. Visible damage, such as flaking​

Visible damage to wooden structures, such as flaking or disintegration, is also a sign of termite presence. Damage to wood is sometimes not visible, but it can be detected by tapping the surface with a hammer or other hard object.

If the wood gives off a deep, hollow sound, then there might be termite damage within. This damage could have been done during a previous infestation, so conducting a professional evaluation will help determine the current state of termite activity.

Difference Between Winged Ant and Termites​

Image Titled Winged Termite Versus Winged Ant

If wings are found, there is a chance that they belonged to a winged ant and not a termite. Although many people often confuse winged ants with termites, there are key distinctions that can help someone distinguish between the two.

Ants

  • Elbowed Antennae
  • Front and back wings are of different Size
  • Narrow, Pinched Waist
  • Dark Color

Termites

  • Straight Antennnae
  • Front and Back wings are of same size
  • Broad Waist
  • Generally Light Color

Shape: Ants have a pronounced separation between their thorax and abdomen, which gives them the appearance of having a small waist. Termites, on the other hand, have somewhat uniform body shapes, maintaining the same overall width from one end to the other.

Antennae: The antennae on the ants also have more changes in dimension, as they are often elbowed or joined as opposed to the straight antennae of a termite.

Wings: While both insects have four wings, ants possess a set of front wings that are larger in size than their rear wings. A termite’s wings, however, are consistently the same size, no matter what location they occupy on the body.

Color: Body color is also an indicator, as ants tend to be much darker than termites. Finally, with the exception of swarmers, termites do not have eyes, whereas ants do have eyes.

Protecting Your Home

Humidity: Humidity and moisture levels should be kept to a minimum, as termites require moisture for survival. If there are not suitable conditions for survival in a location, then termites will not attempt to establish a colony in the area.

Entry Points: Open structural entry points should also be sealed whenever possible. Cracks in the foundation or structural framing can allow termites a direction into a feeding site. Reducing areas where wood materials come in direct contact with soil will also be a big help as subterranean termites often burrow directly into the wood from the soil.

Chemical Barriers: Conventional chemical barriers or preemptive underground bait stations can help with termite prevention. These measures should be installed by a professional service as they have the won't be effective, if not installed correctly.

How To Kill Termites

If a termite infestation has already occurred, there are multiple home remedies and professional solutions that can help eliminate the problem.

​Natural and Organic Control

Many termite species can be safely and effectively eradicated using organic treatment strategies. Because organic standards for treatment methods are not defined, it is important for anyone in search of a green option to contact termite a treatment professional.

Not only will a professional service be capable of supplying truly organic treatment options, but they will also be able to conduct a thorough termite inspection and identify the species and threat level of the termites in question.

DIY Termite Treatment

In addition to professionally administered termite treatments, there are also botanical home remedies that are often effective. Orange oil, for instance, contains d-limonene, which is an active compound that kills drywood termites upon contact.

This strategy works best with drywood termite colonies with defined boundaries, as the defined boundaries will help ensure complete coverage.

Neem oil can also be utilized, but the termite must ingest the oil in order for it to be effective. Neem oil and orange oil are safe alternatives to chemical treatments, and both products are nontoxic to humans and pets.

Sodium Borate

Sodium borate, also known as borax, can also be employed as a home remedy for termite control. Borax works best on subterranean termites, however determining if the treatment has reached the entire colony is difficult and poses the threat of inadequate treatment.

Often, borax treatments are repeated multiple times in order to ensure full infiltration. These treatments are also commonly used in conjunction with other control methods.

Non-chemical Treatments

Avoiding chemical treatments when dealing with pest control can sometimes be difficult, but there are techniques for eliminating termites based on maintaining severely hot or cold temperatures.

Heat Treatment: The members of a termite colony will begin to die if the colony’s temperature reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius) or higher for longer than 35 minutes.

Before a heat treatment, structures being treated need previous preparation in order to protect the interior furnishings or equipment.

Cold Treatment: In the case of cold treatments, structures are brought to a temperature of 15 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for a minimum of four days.

Furnishing and equipment preparation is less necessary with cold treatments, but individual circumstances should be taken into consideration.

Chemical Treatments

Many chemical termite treatments can be very effective for repelling or eliminating colonies. These chemicals, which are referred to as termiticides, usually come in two varieties: Repellants and non-repellents.

Repellent Chemicals: Repellent chemicals are distributed in a spray or foam form around potential termite entry points and in the soil around a structure. The function of repellent termite chemicals is to create a boundary line termites will not cross.

It is difficult, however, to find and treat all possible termite entry points, which leaves the potential for infestation even after treatment. Also, repellent treatments are not very effective when dealing with termite infestations already in existence.

Non Repellent: Non-repellent termite chemicals go unnoticed by the insects, and they act as more of a poison than a repellent. Termites will encounter the chemical when burrowing in treated soil or wood areas and soon die.

The chemical can also be transferred from one termite to another through food exchanges or grooming. This tactic is similar to baiting, but it covers a larger area due to the breadth of coverage.

Conventional Barrier Treatments

Similar to repellent chemical treatments, barrier treatments require a chemical to be sprayed into the ground around a structure. Depending on the size of the area, however, the amount of chemical needed can grow quite large, which increases both price and potential toxicity.

Termite barriers are also mostly effective against subterranean termites, so it is important to have the type of termite being dealt with identified by a professional before committing to a conventional barrier treatment.

Baits

Image Titled Bait Station

Termite baits are implemented either above ground or below ground. Above ground termite bait stations are placed close to areas that are known to contain termites,

Whereas below ground bait stations are spread out randomly beneath the soil. Though they are implemented in different areas, both types of bait function in the same way.

A chemical that is lethal to termites is mixed with attractive cellulose materials, such as cardboard or paper, which the termites will discover as food. Once the food is discovered, it will be consumed and taken back to the nest in order to feed the colony. Once the lethal chemical is distributed to the members of the colony, they will begin to die.​

Termite Bombs

Termite bombs function by forcing pesticide out of an aerosol canister and into an enclosed space. The particles of pesticide that are forced into the air eventually succumb to gravity and land on the floor, counter and furniture surfaces.

As the chemicals are not forced into the walls, as is the case with fumigation, the chemicals in termite bombs often do not make contact with an area infested with termites.

How To Prevent Termites

Small and consistent steps can go a long way, when it comes to keeping termites out of your home. The worst thing you can do is imagine there is no problem at all.

There may not be, but depending on where you live, it stands to reason that you need to take the potential threat of termites seriously.​

Cost of Termite Treatment​

Checklist to Prevent Termite Infestation

  • Eliminate Moisture Problems​
  • Seal entry points around your water lines/pipes and utility lines/pipes
  • ​Ensure a good air flow throughout your home
  • ​Avoid having firewood, lumber, or papers near your foundations or crawl spaces
  • ​Pay attention for mud tubes on the exterior walls

Are Pesticides Used Against Termites Safe?

If properly used, the chemicals and treatments for termite control should not be harmful to humans or pets. It is important to stress, however, that safety risks should be taken seriously and a termite control professional should be contacted for a consultation.

Having a professional assess the situation is the best way to identify the type of termites being dealt with and the scope of the infestation. With this information, an appropriate treatment plan can be decided upon and implemented.

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