Common Questions About Termites
Total Termite and Pest Control gets a lot of calls for termites. Subterranean (soil-dwelling) termites are serious building pests and usually warrant professional attention. Termite control can be confusing, though, and homeowners often have a lot of questions. Below are answers to some common inquiries.
Why should you worry about termites?
Termites cause billions of dollars of damage every year in the U.S. They feed mainly on wood and damage paper, books, insulation and even pool liners and filtration systems. Termites may harm living trees and shrubs, but they are often a secondary invader of woody plants that already diminish. While termites may invade properties at any time, they are particularly relevant when buying or selling a home, since the termite inspection/infestation report is usually a condition of sale. In addition to the monetary impact, thousands of winged termites appearing inside one’s home are emotionally challenging—not to mention the thought of termites silently celebrating one’s most significant investment.
Why are infestations often discovered in springtime?
Spring is the time when vast numbers of winged termites, known as “swarmers,” appear inside homes. Termites swarm in nature to disperse and start new colonies. Excited by warmer temperatures and rainfall, the winged termites emerge from the colony and fly into the air. The swarmers then fell to the ground, shed their wings, paired with a mate, and tried to start new soil settlements. Termite swarmers appearing inside a home are incapable of damaging the wood and only live for about a day. Removal can be done with a broom or vacuum.
How am I supposed to know if my home is infested?
The discovery of winged termites indoors almost always indicates an infestation that warrants treatment. Since swarmers are drawn to light, they are often seen around windows and doors. People often confuse winged termites with ants that tend to swarm at the same time of year. Termites have straight antennas, a uniformly thickened waist, and wings of equal size. Conversely, the ants have elbow antennas, constricted waists, and forewings bigger than the rear wings.
Swarms of termites rising from tree stumps, and woodpiles outside the yard are not necessarily a cause for concern and do not usually mean that the house is infested. On the other hand, if swarmers appear next to the foundation or from abutting porches or patios, there is a good chance that the home will be infested.
Other infestation signs include earthen mud tubes spanning over foundation walls, base piers, sill plates, floor joists, etc. The mud tubes usually are about the diameter of the pencil, but can sometimes be thicker. Termites start the construction pf shelter tubes as they travel between their underground colonies and the building. You may inspect the tubes for small, creamy-white termites. If the tube appears vacant, this does not necessarily mean that the infestation is inactive; termites often leave sections of the tube while foraging for food somewhere else in the structure.
Wood damaged by termites is hollowed out along the grain, with bits of dried mud or soil lining the feeder galleries. Wood damaged by moisture or other kinds of insects will not have this appearance. Occasionally, termites also bore small holes through drywall or plaster, accompanied by soil bits around the edge. Rippled or sunk traces behind wall coverings may also be indicative of the tunneling of termites below.
Often there will be no clear indication of the infestation. Termites are cryptic creatures and can go undetected many times, hidden behind walls, floor coverings, insulation, and other obstructions. Termite feeding and damage can progress undetected in exposed wood, as the outer surface usually remains intact. Confirmation of termites often requires a professional’s keen eye—but even the most experienced inspector can overlook hidden signs.
Can I carry out some home treatments house?
It’s best not to have a home infestation. Riding home for termites requires skills. Knowledge of building construction is needed to determine critical areas in which termites are likely to enter. Most of these possible points of entry are hidden and hard to access. Termite control also uses specialized equipment such as sturdy masonry drills, large-capacity spray tanks, and extended metal rods for injecting soil. Standard treatment may deal with hundreds of gallons of a liquid pesticide called termiticide injected into the ground alongside the foundation, underneath concrete slabs, and inside foundation walls.
Thus, termite treatment is a job meant for professionals. A possible exception might be if a wooden object such as a mailbox post was infested. “Do-it-yourself” products sold to homeowners in retail stores or purchased over the Internet will rarely eradicate an existing termite problem.
How am I going to choose a termite company? Why is there such variance in price?
These are complicated questions. The company should be licensed by an agency responsible for regulating termite control in your state. Membership in their state pest control association suggests the company is a legit firm with access to technical and training resources needed to do the job correctly. As with any service, references are beneficial. Consider contact at least a few firms. Requesting inspections and free estimates from various companies will help confirm a termite infestation and get a comparison.
Termite control companies offer varied types of treatment methods and warranties. Most will redo the treatment at no additional charge if termites happen to return. Some companies will also repair damage after their treatment, although dating onset of termite damage is hard to determine. In some cases, pest control companies will offer no warranty if drainage systems, wells, or unreachable crawl spaces make it impossible to treat based on industry standards.
Take it slow when choosing a company. Termites slowly damage wood; the amount of damage caused by making an informed decision is insignificant. Avoid firms that try to force you to sign a contract immediately with specials or scare tactics. The job’s overall quality depends less on the salesperson than on the individual who ultimately does the job. Safe and effective treatment of termite requires an experienced technician; not someone hired a few weeks ago.
Which method of treatment is the most potent?
There are two types of termite prevention — liquids and termite baits. Liquid conventional termiticides have been around for decades. Its purpose is to provide a long-lasting “barrier” in the soil that prevents termites from entering and infesting buildings. In most cases, termites that are already in the building also die off because they cannot return to the soil for additional moisture. Most of the former liquid termiticides were repellent rather than lethal to soil foraging termites. Products such as Termidor®/Taurus®, Premise® and Altriset® are non-repellent and can kill termites that go into treated areas. Such products are usually more reliable for controlling infestations in the first attempt.
The other category of treatment is baiting. Termite bait consists of cellulose-based food combined with a slow-acting substance that is lethal to termites. The bait is installed in cylindrical plastic stations below the ground in the yard. You may additionally install other types of bait stations indoors over mud tunnels. Scavenging termites eat the bait and share it with their nestmates, resulting in a gradual decline in termites. On some properties, termite baits may be the only form of treatment; on others, it may be supplemented by liquid applications to areas where termites are observed.
It is vital to have an experienced technician, backed by a knowledgeable pest control service company, regardless of the approach.
Is the whole house in need of treatment, or can they treat where termites are seen?
Subterranean termite colonies may contain thousands of individuals foraging in many areas. Because of this, localized “spot” treatments are usually a gamble, except in cases of warranty-related withdrawal. Most reliable pest control firms will not warrant spot treatment, as it is likely that termites will eventually find other entry points into the building.
Many companies offer what is referred to as “perimeter” applications using a liquid product such as Termidor®. Typically, this involves treatment around the home’s entire exterior and spot treatment for any infested or high-risk indoor areas. Due to the accuracy of such treatments, most companies also offer a guarantee for termites’ return. Such warranties usually stipulate that the company returns and withdraws the affected area(s) at no additional charge provided that the annual renewal is maintained. It’s risky to purchase any termite treatment without an ongoing service agreement.
How long is treatment going to last?
All liquid termiticides are intended to control termites for at least five years when applied according to label directions. The duration of control of any given home will depend on several factors, including the use of the termiticide product, the thoroughness of the application, the country’s area, the local environmental conditions and the density of termites on the property. Suppose the termites swarm and continue to infest the structure the year after treatment. In that case, it is not due to the termiticide’s degradation, but rather because the pests have discovered an untreated gap in the chemical barrier.
Is the chemical going to harm my family or pets?
Professional termiticides are extensively tested for adverse health effects. The manufacturer conducts numerous studies and independently evaluated by the U.S. before the product can be used. Based on current knowledge, registered soil termiticides do not pose a danger to people, pets or the environment when applied based on label directions. Despite a negligible health risk from correctly performed termite therapy, patients with persistent concerns should consult their physician. Most of the newer liquid chemicals are practically odorless. People who remain concerned may want to consider having their home treated with termite bait systems.
Have I been “cheated” when termites continue to infest my home after treatment?
Not necessarily that. In contrast to other services such as electrical work, termite control deals with living creatures. Even the most potent treatments performed by a reputable pest control company may fail when termites find their way through untreated soil gaps. While the aim is to establish a continuous, impenetrable chemical barrier, this isn’t easy to achieve in actual practice. It may some time for termites to find below-ground installations and months for more control to be performed for baits.
The solution is to hire a reputable, family owned, full-service pest control company with experienced, conscientious technicians. Companies will return and withdraw the affected areas at no additional charge provided that customers purchase and maintain their warranty.
If you are in need of termite control services we offer services to the following cities:
Ahwatukee Foothills, AZ
Apache Junction, AZ
Arizona City, AZ
Black Canyon City, AZ
Casa Grande, AZ
Cave Creek, AZ
Chandler Heights, AZ
Chino Valley, AZ
Clay Springs, AZ
El Mirage, AZ
Fort Apache, AZ
Fort Huachuca, AZ
Fort McDowell, AZ
Fort Thomas, AZ
Fountain Hills, AZ
Gila Bend, AZ
Gold Canyon, AZ
Grand Canyon, AZ
Green Valley, AZ
Huachuca City, AZ
Joseph City, AZ
Keams Canyon, AZ
Kykotsmovi Village, AZ
Litchfield Park, AZ
Luke Air Force Base, AZ
Marble Canyon, AZ
Mc Neal, AZ
Mount Lemmon, AZ
Munds Park, AZ
New River, AZ
Palo Verde, AZ
Paradise Valley, AZ
Prescott Valley, AZ
Queen Creek, AZ
Queen Valley, AZ
Red Rock, AZ
Rio Rico, AZ
Rio Verde, AZ
Saint David, AZ
Saint Johns, AZ
San Carlos, AZ
San Manuel, AZ
San Simon, AZ
San Tan Valley, AZ
Second Mesa, AZ
Show Low, AZ
Sierra Vista, AZ
Sun City, AZ
Sun City West, AZ
Tortilla Flat, AZ
Tuba City, AZ
Valley Farms, AZ
White Mountain Lake, AZ