Termite Control - The Basics

For people living in areas prone to these troublesome bugs, termite control can be a big concern. After all, some of the worst varieties of termite can destroy up to a pound of wood per day! While most termite infestations won't be of this severity, regular colonies can still do significant damage. If you're living in a termite-prone area, here's some basic information on these nasty bugs and how to deal with them that every homeowner should know.

Termite Prevention:

The best thing you can do to get rid of termites is not to get them in the first place. While that might sound hard, there are a few things you can do if you live in an area that tends to suffer from these bugs, but you don't have them yet. For one, they need a lot of moisture, and they live in the soil. So, make sure they don't have any big sources of water, like leaking faucets and hoses, air conditioners, or similar problems.

Move sprinklers, and make sure there's no wood near the home and no untreated timber directly touching the ground. Check the house for cracks, and use either treated woods or timber that's naturally termite resistant in all places where wood must be in contact with the ground. This can do a lot to keep these nasty insects from establishing themselves. If you find a colony on your property, don't touch it. You'll just move them right into your home - call professionals if you run into termites.

Liquid Pesticides For Termite Control:

Liquid termite treatments use termite-killing substances in a barrier around your house (like a trench). These chemicals remain in the ground for a long time, and keep repelling termites that try to burrow into or through the foundation of your home. They come in two basic kinds - repellants and termiticides. While liquid termite controls, like Termidor, used to be the only kind of termite control available, they aren't as favored anymore.

That's because some of these chemicals can be toxic, and may leak into water supplies. Older chemicals may also be considered environmentally dangerous. However, this is a very inexpensive method - only about $60 for twenty ounces of Termidor, for instance. Beware of companies that want to use lower concentrations of these products, however - they aren't saving you money.

Termite Treatments - Bait Systems:

Bait systems are one of the most common methods of dealing with termites if you already have them and preventative measures aren't going to do the trick. Senticron termite control is one of the more popular brands, though there are plenty of others as well. These systems work relatively simply. You first place stakes in the ground near your house - these stakes contain wood.

If termites get into the wood, the pest control service replaces it with anti-termite pesticides. These pesticides are usually slow acting, so they can be taken back to the colony and spread around. Many of them keep young termites from developing properly, eventually destroying the colony. Price for this method is higher than liquid termite controls and some other methods - as high as twelve dollars per linear foot - but it can be worth it.

Natural Defenses Against Termites:

Orange oil and boric acid are both substances found in nature that are relatively low in toxins (though not non-toxic - they can still be dangerous to pets and children in high enough concentrations). They've been successfully used against termites, and may provide an alternative to tenting and similar treatments. Orange oil is the less toxic of the two, and is used for drywood termites. It requires drilling into the affected timber and injecting D-Limonene/orange oil into the wood. This kills the insects inside. Orange oil does not work on subterranean-type termites.

Borate or boric acid treatments are painted onto wood, and kill the beneficial flora that help termites digest wood. Eventually, the termites starve. However, this treatment is best done as the house is being built, and does not always work when applied later. In older homes, it's best to use other methods, then use boric acid or borate treatments as a preventative.

Termite Tenting:

Also called fumigation, termite tenting is another method that works only on drywood termites, and not on subterranean species. When this is done, the entire house is enclosed in a tent, and pesticide is released into it, killing all termites inside. All food, dishes, cosmetics and similar items must be protected from the fumigation, and residents must move out while it's being done. Tenting can be costly - between one and three thousand dollars - but is often worth it if infestations are serious.

These are just short descriptions of the most popular methods of termite control. You can look deeper into any of them by following the links.

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By Frank Reece. Page last modified Nov. 10, 2008.

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