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Every year, termites cause more damage than fire, floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes combined. Therefore, every homeowner should be at least somewhat knowledgeable of termites, the damage they can do, the signs of an infestation, conducive conditions, and what is involved in the treatment of termites.
The Biology of Termites
FOOD AND SHELTER
|Termites feed on cellulose material. In nature, this is dead trees, branches, leaves, etc. Therefore, in nature, they perform a valuable service; they help break down the dead wood. However, we also build our homes and businesses out of dead wood. Therefore, they enter these structures and proceed to feed on the beams, studs, and other cellulose products in the home, including wallpaper and books.|
|Termites are also soft-shelled insects. They require a high level of moisture and a lack of sunlight or they will dry up and die. Therefore, wood that is in direct contact with the ground is best. However, termites do not necessarily need direct wood to ground contact. They are capable of building mud tunnels or shelter tubes from the ground to the wood. These look like small strips of dirt running up the foundation to the structure. When broken open, there is a small hole running through the center of the mud trail. You may even see the termites inside the tunnel.|
|The swarmers and the mud tunnels are usually the first signs of a subterranean termite infestation. Other signs may be damage to the wood members and piles or wings. Sometimes, a termite infestation may in a home for years before they are discovered, thus causing massive damage. I remember the first year in the pest control business, I went to a house where the homeowner was having his house painted. When the painters were stripping the old paint and came to the kick plate under the front door, the siding just exploded into pieces. When I got there, and we looking in the basement, there was no outward sign of a termites present. But when I used my probing tool on the sill plate and floor joists, there was extensive damage to the sill plate and about 6 or 7 floor joists in a row. By the way, the homeowner lived in the house for over 30 years and there was a pool table, which was used regularly, just under the exposed damaged joists. This illustrates that termites are known hidden invaders for a reason. And for this reason, a qualified termite inspection is usually performed prior to someone buying a home and should be done every 2-5 years.|
|Once a termite infestation has been detected, or for preventative purposes, then a treatment needs to be done. There are two basic treatments available; baiting programs and conventional treatments. Conventional treatments involve injecting a liquid termiticide into the ground around the foundation to establish a uniform barrier to keep the termites out. A baiting program involves putting bait around the structure so the termites can feed on the bait and eventually die. There are advantages and disadvantages to each program.|
|The advantage of a conventional termite treatment program is that it stops the termites immediately. Although all termite treatments are not 100 percent effective, this treatment, if done by a qualified termite treatment company, is the most effective, averaging 80 - 85% effective with the first treatment. The major disadvantage with this type of treatment is that it is very obtrusive. I t involves injecting a termiticide into the ground on both the outside and the inside of the foundation and may require drilling holes through the floor of your foundation.|
|The advantage of the baiting programs is that it is not as obtrusive. Usually the baiting is done outside the foundation. Any inside treatment usually involves attaching a bait station to a sill plate or other beam. The disadvantages are twofold. First, this does not stop the termites immediately. It can take up to two years to stop one colony from doing damage and it does not stop another colony from entering the structure when it wants to. Secondly, the cost of the baiting programs tends to be 50 - 100 percent higher than the conventional treatments.|
|Either method of treatment requires a pest management professional that does termite treatments. You may want to look at the following web sites to gain additional information on termites and termite treatments.|
CHECK OUT THESE SITES FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT TREATMENT
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