Termites may be small but the damage they cause is definitely not. The worst thing about termites is that they are not only very dangerous but also act silently. This means that termites might be living and thriving in your home while you remain totally clueless. By the time you notice signs of damage, it might be too late and your property might have already suffered a huge blow, thanks to these pesky little fellows. The reason why termites always find a way into houses is because all houses provide the kind of food termites thrive on: cellulose-based plant material. Regardless of the construction type of the house, termites will always find a way to get to the cellulose food.
Termites are detritivores which means that they feed on dead plants and trees and also the dead parts of living trees. In basic terms, termites feed on dead wood. This is why they will be drawn to your furniture, books, shelves and even your house’s foundation.
Types of Termites
Although they may all look the same to you, there are different types of termites. Of course, the first thing on your mind when you come across a termite infestation in your house is how to get rid of the menace and not which category they belong to. However, it does not hurt to know what you are dealing with.
These are the termites that live in colonies below the ground. In order to reach above-ground sources of food, they build a network of tunnels. These termites are dependent on moisture for survival. These termites usually have a queen that lays thousands of eggs in its lifetime.
These are the termites that you are most likely to find in your attic wood. They create colonies in wood and they thrive on very little moisture.
As the name suggests, these are the termites that you will find in damp and decaying wood. These fellows usually do not nest in the soil but prefer to build colonies in decaying wood found on the soil. You can tell that dampwood termites have worked on wood if it looks smooth and cleaned out.
They are sometimes referred to as introduced subterranean termites because they nest in the soil. These termites will invade structures from the soil through wood or the mud tubes that they construct. The difference between Formosan termites and their subterranean counterparts is that they are able to build structures that retain moisture. Therefore, they need not return to the soil for moisture.
How To Tell If You Have Termites
Most people will notice a termite infestation only after severe damage has been done. However, there are certain tell-tale signs that should alert you to the existence of termites in your house before it is too late. If you notice that all of a sudden there are winged guests in your home or from the soil around the house, you could be looking at a potential termite infestation. The presence of mud tubes in places such as wooden beams and crawl spaces should also alert you to a termite problem. Swarmers will usually discard their wings on places such as your window sills so look out for these too. If you tap wood in your home and it sounds hollow, you might want to investigate and find out whether any termites have made themselves at home in your home. Frass (termite droppings) is an obvious sign of termite infestation.
Getting Rid of Termites Naturally
Now that you know how to check for unwelcome guests in your home, what steps do you take when you find out that indeed there is a termite infestation? There are both natural and chemical ways to get rid of termites. If you opt for the natural route, you need to get your hands on beneficial nematodes. It’s not as rocket science as it sounds. Beneficial nematodes are actually unsegmented worms that are used to kill garden pests such as termites. They do this by burrowing into hosts, in this case termite larvae, and in doing so they cause the death of their hosts. You can easily purchase these helpful fellows from your local garden supply store or online. Currently, there are five varieties that you can choose from.
Remember to use the nematodes immediately after purchase; if not, store them in your refrigerator. Since UV light harms these worms, be sure to place them in the garden after sunset or before sunrise.
Using a cardboard trap is another way to get rid of termites naturally. Cardboard contains cellulose which as earlier mentioned is what termites feed on. In order to set the trap for the termites, you need to spray the cardboard so that the smell of the cellulose becomes more distinct. You should then place the cardboard trap near a termite-infested area. The termites will be attracted to the cardboard giving you the chance to catch them and burn them off.
Exposing termites to sunlight and the heat associated with it kills them. If your furniture has been infested by termites, find a way of getting it out of the house. The rays from the sun will handle your termite problem for you.
Another natural way of eliminating termites from your home is by ensuring that they do not get the opportunity to thrive. Simply put, you need to ensure that you embark on prevention rather than cure. Get rid of damp wood around your home and clear any bushes as this exposes the termites to sunlight which as earlier mentioned kills them. Water leaks in your house should also be taken care of as this will eventually attract termites.
Alternatively, you can get rid of termites using boric acid. In fact, boric acid is the main ingredient found in many termite insecticides that you buy from the store. Boric acid kills termites by shutting down their nervous systems and dehydrating them. If you want this method to work best, make use of bait stations. For this, you need to spray wood with boric acid and then place it strategically in different parts where you think termites might be. Be sure to check these bait stations regularly and replenish the boric acid as required.
Orange oil can also be used to eliminate drywood termites. Orange oil is an extract that is gotten from orange peels. It is insoluble in water. In order for it to work, you should drill holes into the infested wood and pour in the orange oil through the holes. Be cautious when using orange oil as some people are allergic to it. Orange oil kills the termites through direct contact or by starving them to death as it deters feeding.
Heat fumigation is another effective way of killing termites. When termites are subjected to temperatures above 120° F for 35 minutes or more, they’ll die. You might want to do this with the help of a professional. Be sure to remove all your gadgets e.g television sets and computers from the house before you use this method.
Get Rid Of Termites Using Chemicals
Chemical methods of getting rid of termites include using arsenic dust which is very effective as it kills all members of the colony even if only a few come into contact with it. This is because in the course of their interactions, the termites pass on the arsenic trioxide to the others. Termites who feed on the victims of the arsenic dust also die. This method might be limited to licensed professionals depending on your state of residence.
Permethrin dust is also quite effective especially if you are looking to get instant results. A good alternative to spot treatment is electrical shock. 90,000 volts of power are used to electrocute drywood termite colonies. For this, you need to use an Electro-Gun.
Using chemical methods for getting rid of termites can be quite hazardous, so if you are at the point that you’re considering this route, it is usually a better idea to simply call a professional.
When To Get Rid Of Termites By Calling A Professional Exterminator
Sometimes, the termite infestation might be on a large scale that cannot be adequately covered if you decide to do it yourself. In such an instance, your best bet is to call in professional extermination services. The best thing about such services as compared to DIY is that they have the professional expertise needed to handle termite infestations of any kind. They are used to dealing with infestations and are therefore unlikely to miss any spots. It is important to check with the Structural Pest Control Board before hiring any professional extermination company. Another good move is to insist on a written agreement where the company promises complete termite extinction for a period of time, say two years. This way, the exterminators will periodically inspect your property at no extra cost.
If you don’t deal with termite infestation early enough, you will have to deal with damage property and loss of property value later on. Thankfully, when handled while there’s still adequate time, termite infestation need not bug you longer than necessary.