Successful, Modern-Day Termite Control Methods

Yara Zakharia, Esq.

From books and magazines to timber and lumber, wood-eating insects known as termites destroy more than 2 million homes in the U.S. and cause millions of dollars in damage not covered by homeowners' insurance each year. The only evidence left behind by these pesky pests which target cellulose-containing material and substances with a wooden pulp is a little dust or sand in different parts of a home or its surrounding structure. Termite damage is usually attested to by the presence of swarmers or reproductive members of termite colonies. Swarmers usually gather in moist areas, partition walls, light fixtures, windows, and doors. To avoid a substantial loss and the need to hire home repair contractors, homeowners should address termite infestation as soon as it is discovered.

Termite Control Approaches

The most effective termite treatment utilizes a diversified method of application and quality materials or equipment. The vast majority of exterminators employ one or a combination of the following termite control techniques:

1. Physical barriers

These mechanisms are installed before the application of concrete slab on the property. Pest control technicians usually place physical barriers around areas serving as entry points for termites, such as conduits, electrical pipes, and plumbing fixtures. While efficacious in stopping the flow of termites, physical barriers take time to set up and are more costly than termite control alternatives.

2. Soil treatment

A conventional method of termite control involves treatment of the soil around the proper with a chemical barrier, which blocks termites from entering the home. Modern-day liquid soil treatments work rapidly and are highly-effective in annihilating the termite colonies that are damaging the home. Being undetectable, the liquid treatments draw termites seeking food to the targeted zone; these carry the termiticide with which they have come in contact to the rest of the colony. The process continues for a period ranging from 15 to 45 days until all of the termites in the colony are eliminated.

Typically, the exterminator digs a trench along the property's foundation wall a few inches deep, treats the area with a termiticide, and waits for the chemical to be soaked up by the soil. With the exception of drywood termites which are capable of subsisting on top of the soil and with only a small quantity of moisture, the vast majority of termite infestation involves soil treatment.

3. Wood treatment

In this form of termite control, chemicals known as borates in combination with a fungicide and insecticide are applied to a home's wood surface, which is a common site for foraging termites. Borates offer long-term protection and are an environmentally-friendly or green and safer alternative to termite eradication by way of chemical pesticides. Wood treatment is aimed at eliminating current termite activity.

4. Bait monitors

Another powerful tool in attacking termites consists of placing bait stations in areas conducive to termite presence. Exterminators install stations in the soil surrounding the home, with a piece of cellulose treated with termiticide as bait for termites and containing an insect growth regulator. Upon finding the wooden source, the termites carry the bait to the remainder of the colony, which feeds on it and is exterminated. The baiting stations operate as monitoring mechanisms enabling homeowners to assess the situation and target termite activity. By eliminating these creatures in the yard, pest control companies prevent them from entering their client's home.

Optimal Solutions for Different Types of Termites

The most common types of termites exterminated by pest control companies are 1) dampwood termites, 2) drywood termites, and 3) subterranean termites. For dampwood termites, which only impact moisture-laden wood, the control method preferred is moisture elimination via soil treatment. This will ensure the containment of the termites and the protection of the home's structure. On the other hand, for a case involving drywood termites, exterminators usually proceed by way of either spot treatment or whole-structure fumigation. The latter approach involves placement of a tent over the property and application of a fumigant to the home's interior. An increasing number of pest control companies offer customers the option of no-tent termite control, which boasts the following advantages: 1) no requirement of clearing the cupboards, removing plants, and bagging medicine or food and 2) no need for homeowners to vacate the premises for a few days. Where only localized treatment is needed, the pest control technician applies an insecticide and/or a termiticide to one or a few groups of boards. Another commonly-encountered type of termite is the subterranean breed which makes its home in the soil and hunts for wood that is underneath or in contact with the ground.

Selecting an Exterminator

The cost of termite control is a function of the severity of the infestation and the type of treatment chosen. Before hiring a pest control company, consumers should verify that it is licensed, and that its technicians are pre-screened and certified by the state pest control association and the National Pest Control Association.

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