Right now, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) around 600,000 homes across the US are being eaten from inside their walls.
No, it’s not a horror movie made to terrify homeowners.
Termites are among the top demands for pest control services in the country. According to the USDA, termites in the United States cause over $2 billion in damage every year.
As much of a lifesaver as pest control services can be, homeowners are the first line of defense against termites.
Below are the essential steps to curing a home of termites.
Step 1: Recognize the Signs of Termites
The most obvious signs of termite damage are holes in woodwork as well as weakened wood.
However, by the time symptoms are noticeable, the damage is likely to be extensive. To stop an infestation before it does serious damage, it’s important to recognize the earlier signs as well.
Some homeowners know to call pest control services because they see a termite, so it’s important to know what termites look like.
There are several different species of termites. Most species have narrow, pale-bodies and are 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch in length.
The heads can be oval or rectangular.
They can be the same color as the body or a dark brown shade. Termites also have six legs and two straight antennae.
A common sign of termite infestation is a tube of mud where the ground meets the house. These tunnels are used as nests and temperature control for termites.
Another sign of termite infestation is visible termite waste. This can be in the form of termite droppings (also called frass), which look like sawdust.
The wings of reproductive termites (the only termites that have wings) can be discarded and found near the access points of the home.
Termite wings are all the same size.
Prospective homebuyers are wise to hire a pest expert for a home inspection, but any homeowner can also conduct a brief exam of their own.
Simply push a screwdriver into the wood of the home’s foundation. If the wood gives way easily and falls apart, it’s a sign that termites are enjoying the all-you-can-eat buffet.
It’s time to call pest control services.
Another helpful method for identifying a termite problem is the cardboard test.
Grab a few pieces of standard cardboard and wet them. Next, place them in a stack in an area where you suspect the termites are.
Leave the wet cardboard sit for a while. It’ll attract termites and act as a trap if there is an infestation.
A note of caution, however: some homeowners use the cardboard trap as a do-it-yourself project for termite control.
This is not recommended because it often only works in a localized area and offers no indication of whether all the termites are gone.
It’s best to avoid the risk of allowing termite damage to continue and to call professional pest control services.
Step 2: Identify the Type of Termites in the Home
In the US, there are two primary types of termites: subterranean termites and drywood termites.
Drywood termites are found all throughout the country. They live only in wood.
In drywood termites, the head is the same pale, off-white color as the body.
Subterranean termites are typically found in the warmer, coastal areas of the US, like California, Texas, Florida, and other states in the southern region.
This species nests in the ground and tunnels their way into nearby homes to eat the wood.
Knowing what type of termites you have can put you one step ahead when you start home termite control or call pest control services. You’ll spend less time on diagnostics and get right to curing your termite woes.
Step 3: Try DIY Termite Control if You Choose
Pest control services can be expensive. Many homeowners choose to try to treat a termite infestation by themselves first.
For homeowners who want a natural, chemical-free option, raising the temperature of the home for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Be careful though. The temperature within the wood needs to be 120 degrees or higher, so it may be too much for a standard home furnace to handle.
Many hardware stores sell products that are specifically designed to kill termites. This is where step #2 comes in.
Some products may be focused on specific types of termites, so homeowners who know the termite species they’re fighting can choose their weapons more effectively.
In addition, knowing about the specific termite species can help homeowners weed out certain methods. For example, because drywood termites live entirely in the wood and not in the ground, soil-based treatments will not work.
One type of store-bought termite control product is a liquid spray.
After choosing a product that is appropriate for the infesting species, follow the instructions on the bottle to apply it correctly.
In some cases, drilling into the wood may be required to apply a liquid termiticide.
For homeowners with a crawl space, the treatment may be applied without drilling. The process can vary from product to product, so read the instructions carefully every time.
Some types of liquid termiticides are injected into the soil rather than applied to the wood.
Of course, these products are designed for subterranean termites and need to be used thoroughly.
Termites will find and use any untreated gaps.
Just be careful to read the safety precautions as well. Many of these products can be dangerous to people and pets.
The other common type of home pest control treatment is a termite trap. Most people remember using ant traps at some point.
Termite traps are a similar concept.
The little structures contain a food or a scent that is enticing to the targeted pests. Once the pests are in the structure they’re poisoned and can be disposed of.
For a home-made option, boric acid can be used to make effective termite traps when it is sprayed or coated onto cardboard or wood.
Depending on the type of termites that are infesting a home, termite baits can either be installed underground or placed in the area of an infestation.
Home termite control can be enticing to homeowners because it is dramatically cheaper than hiring professional pest control services. In some cases, it works well enough to eliminate or delay the need for a professional treatment.
But remember, it’s a gamble.
If the store-bought products don’t work well enough to eliminate the infestation (a common problem, because there is no reliable way for DIY’ers to know that the infestation is gone), the remaining termites can spend the next several years doing thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of damage.
In fact, while costs change on a case-by-case basis, various experts estimate that the average homeowner with termites will spend around $3,000 on home repair.
Step 4: Call Professional Pest Control Services
Some homeowners don’t want to take the DIY gamble with the most valuable investment they own. Others have tried home pest control unsuccessfully.
As explained by Lake Norman Pest control near Hunterville NC, who has spent the past 59 years treating North Carolina homes for subterranean termites, “Not only are they a nuisance, termite can also cause serious damage to your home and end up costing you repair costs!”
The safer route is to call professional pest control services from the start.
Not only do professional pest control companies have the experience to know how to treat each case of termites, but they have access to much more advanced methods.
Certain chemicals and machines are only safe when used by a trained professional. These can be much more effective than the products that are sold in stores.
For example, some chemical-free termite treatments use electrical currents or microwaves (the energy wave, not the magical nacho machine). These require equipment that must be handled by a pest control professional and are not available to consumers.
Step 5: Take Preventative Measures
As much of a relief as it might be when a homeowner finally has their termite problem resolved, there is no such thing as a permanent solution to termites.
If termites got into a home in the first place, there is a way for them to get in again.
After either DIY methods or pest control services have eliminated termites, homeowners should immediately begin taking measures to prevent another infestation.
As with the treatment stage, the preventative stage can be approached either manually or professionally.
Hardware stores sell many home termite repellent products in both liquid and bait form. However, pest control companies also offer periodic, consistent preventative treatments.
Homeowners can also lower their risk for future termite infestations by keeping their homes dry and keeping gutters clean. Damp environments attract termites.
Sealing any cracks or gaps in the home can also prevent termites from getting in. Caulking around windows, doors, wiring, and pipes can fill in these potential termite floodgates.
For this reason, a termite infestation needs to be handled as early and effectively as possible. For guidance in finding the best pest control services near you, browse the many qualified pest control companies in your area with our helpful local business directory.