Termites are a homeowner’s worst nightmare. These tiny pests can cause extensive damage to your sheds’ foundation, walls, and any furniture. If left unchecked, a termite infestation can cost you thousands of dollars in repairs.
But don’t worry, in this ultimate guide to termite treatment, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get rid of termites and prevent future infestations.
Let’s begin by going over the main types of termites found in the United States and Canada.
Types of Termites in the United States and Canada
1] Subterranean Termites
These termites are the most destructive and widespread in the U.S. They live in underground colonies and build mud tubes to access their food sources, which can include wood and other cellulose materials.
Appearance: Subterranean termites are usually pale or light brown and have straight antennae. They have a soft, creamy body and are about 1/8 to 3/8 inch long.
Behavior: They live in underground colonies and build mud tubes to protect themselves and maintain moisture while foraging for food. These termites primarily feed on wood and other cellulose materials.
Habitat: Subterranean termites are found throughout the United States, except in Alaska. They thrive in moist environments and require contact with soil to survive.
Signs of Infestation: Mud tubes on walls or foundation, damaged wood with a hollow sound, discarded wings near windows or doors, and presence of swarmer’s (winged reproductive termites) are common signs of subterranean termite infestation.
2] Drywood Termites
Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites do not require contact with soil. They infest dry wood structures such as furniture, floors, and walls. They form smaller colonies and create chambers within the wood where they live and breed.
Appearance: Drywood termites are larger than subterranean termites, usually about 3/8 to 1 inch long. They can vary in color from light brown to dark brown or reddish-brown.
Behavior: Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites do not require soil contact. They infest dry wood structures such as furniture, floors, and walls. They form smaller colonies and create chambers within the wood where they live and breed.
Habitat: Drywood termites are commonly found in coastal regions and southern states of the U.S., as they prefer warmer climates. They infest dry and sound wood.
Signs of Infestation: Presence of small piles of fecal pellets resembling sawdust (known as frass), discarded wings, blistering or sagging wood, and the presence of swarmer’s are indications of drywood termite activity.
3] Damp Wood Termites
Damp wood termites are typically found in areas with high moisture levels, such as damp and decaying wood. They are less common compared to subterranean and drywood termites and typically infest logs, stumps, and other wood sources in contact with the ground.
Appearance: Damp wood termites are larger than subterranean termites, usually about 1/2 to 5/8 inch long. They have a reddish-brown color and a long, narrow body with straight antennae.
Behavior: Damp wood termites infest wood with high moisture content and are typically found in decaying logs, stumps, or other wood sources in contact with the ground. They form smaller colonies compared to subterranean termites.
Habitat: Damp wood termites are primarily found in areas with high humidity and moisture, such as coastal regions and damp forests.
Signs of Infestation: Presence of fecal pellets, small holes in wood surfaces, galleries within the wood, and the presence of swarmer’s are signs of damp wood termite infestation.
It’s worth noting that each type of termite has different behaviors, preferred habitats, and levels of damage potential. Professional inspection and identification are recommended to accurately determine the type of termite infestation and the most appropriate treatment methods.
Signs of Termite Infestation
Before you can treat termites, you need to know if you have an infestation. Some common signs of termite activity include hollowed-out wood, discarded wings, mud tubes, and piles of sawdust.
Let’s go over these signs in detail, so you can identify them in your home.
Mud Tubes… Termites build mud tubes as a way to travel from their nest to a food source. These tubes are about the width of a pencil and can be found on walls, foundations, and other structures.
Swarmer’s… These are winged termites that leave the nest to form new colonies. If you see swarmer’s around your home, it’s a sign that there is an established colony nearby.
Discarded Wings… After swarmer’s find a mate and form a new colony, they shed their wings. You may find discarded wings around windowsills, doors, and other entry points.
Wood Damage… Termites eat wood from the inside out, leaving a honeycomb-like pattern. If you tap on a piece of wood and it sounds hollow, it may be infested with termites.
Frass… This is the termite’s excrement, and it looks like tiny pellets or sawdust. If you see frass around your home, it’s a sign that termites are actively feeding.
Types of Termite Treatment
There are two main types of termite treatment:
Chemical and Non-Chemical.
Chemical Treatments… Use liquid termiticides, baiting systems, or wood treatments to kill termites. This involves using chemicals to create a barrier around your home or building to prevent termites from entering or to eliminate the existing colonies.
Chemical treatments may involve liquid termiticides or baits, which are placed in the ground around the perimeter of your home.
Non-chemical Treatments… Include heat treatments, cold treatments, and electro-gun. We’ll compare the pros and cons of each type of treatment.
Fumigation: This treatment involves enclosing the entire building in a tent and using a gas to kill the termites. Fumigation is typically used for severe infestations and is highly effective.
Heat treatments: This involves using high temperatures to kill the termites. Heat treatments may involve heating the entire building or localized areas where termites are present.
Borate treatments: This involves treating the wood in your home or building with borate, a natural mineral that is toxic to termites. Borate treatments are often used during new construction or in areas where termites are known to be a problem.
Physical barriers: This involves creating physical barriers around your home or building to prevent termites from entering. Examples of physical barriers include stainless steel mesh and sand barriers.
Natural Effective Homemade Termite Treatments
While professional pest control services are generally recommended for effective termite treatments.
Here are a few natural remedies that can be used as supplementary measures:
Cardboard traps: Place wet cardboard near termite-infested areas. Termites are attracted to cellulose in the cardboard and will gather there. Once they have gathered, dispose of the cardboard by burning it or soaking it in water to eliminate the termites.
Sunlight exposure: Termites are sensitive to sunlight and dry conditions. Expose infested wooden items or furniture to direct sunlight, as it can help kill or deter termites.
Beneficial nematodes: These microscopic worms can be purchased and applied to termite-infested areas. Nematodes are natural predators of termites and can help control their population.
Orange oil: D-Limonene, which is found in orange oil, has been known to have insecticidal properties. Apply orange oil to termite galleries or infested areas using a spray bottle. Repeat the application as needed.
Vinegar: Create a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water and spray it on infested areas. While vinegar may repel termites, it may not eliminate them entirely.
Diatomaceous earth: This powdery substance is abrasive to termites and can cause dehydration and eventual death. Apply diatomaceous earth in areas where termites are present, such as cracks, crevices, or around the foundation.
Remember that these homemade treatments may have limited effectiveness and should not be solely relied upon for complete termite eradication. For a thorough and long-lasting solution, it is advisable to consult a professional pest control service that specializes in termite treatment.
DIY vs Professional Termite Treatment
While DIY termite treatment can be cost-effective, it’s not always the best option. We’ll go over the pros and cons of DIY termite treatment and the benefits of hiring a professional. We’ll also give you tips on how to choose the right professional for the job.
While there are many do-it-yourself (DIY) termite treatments available, it’s generally recommended to hire a professional pest control company to handle a termite infestation.
Here are some reasons why:
Effectiveness: Professional pest control companies have access to more powerful and effective treatments than what is available to the general public. They also have the knowledge and expertise to properly identify and treat the specific type of termites present in your home or building.
Safety: Many termite treatments involve the use of chemicals that can be dangerous if not handled properly. Professional pest control companies have the proper training and equipment to safely apply these treatments.
Cost: While DIY termite treatments may seem less expensive, they may not be as effective as professional treatments and can end up costing more in the long run if the infestation persists or returns.
Guarantee: Many professional pest control companies offer guarantees on their termite treatments. If the termites return after treatment, they will return to retreat the affected areas at no additional cost.
Time: Professional pest control companies have the experience and equipment to quickly and efficiently treat termite infestations, reducing the amount of time your home or building is exposed to the destructive pests.
Termite Prevention Tips
Preventing termites is the best way to avoid termite treatment. We’ll give you tips on how to reduce the risk of termite infestation, maintain a termite-free home, and common mistakes to avoid.
Remove wood and debris: Termites are attracted to wood and cellulose materials, so removing wood and debris from around your home or building can help reduce the likelihood of an infestation.
Store firewood properly: If you store firewood outside, keep it off the ground and away from your home or building.
Fix leaks: Termites are attracted to moisture, so fixing any leaks in your home or building can help prevent an infestation.
Ventilate crawl spaces: Proper ventilation in crawl spaces can help prevent moisture buildup, which can attract termites.
Seal cracks and gaps: Seal any cracks and gaps in your home or building’s foundation, walls, and roof to prevent termites from entering.
Keep gutters clean: Clean gutters can help prevent water buildup, which can attract termites.
Maintain landscaping: Keep plants and shrubs trimmed and away from your home or building’s foundation to prevent them from providing a bridge for termites to enter.
Get regular termite inspections: Regular termite inspections by a professional pest control company can help detect early signs of an infestation and prevent it from becoming a larger problem.
Termites can cause extensive damage to your home, but with the right treatment and prevention methods, you can keep them at bay. In this ultimate guide to termite treatment, we’ve covered everything you need to know to get rid of termites and prevent future infestations.
Remember to keep an eye out for signs of termite activity, consider the pros and cons of different types of treatments, and implement an IPM approach to pest control. With these tips, you can keep your home termite-free and avoid costly repairs.