Termite Treatments - What You Need To Know

We all know that termites can be a big problem - especially species such as the intensely damaging Formosan subterranean termite. However, it can be hard to know what to do about them. There are all sorts of do it yourself ways of treating termites such as chemicals, professional exterminators and even tenting. How do you know which is the best option for you? Here's some basic information on the major termite treatments.

Termite Shields:

Prevention is one of the most important part of termite treatment. If you don't have termites currently, it's vital that you take steps not to get them! Preventing termites from entering the structure is one component of a good prevention plan, and termite shields can be used for this, along with other methods.

Termites cannot tunnel through metal, and they have trouble building mud shelter tubes on it. These metal termite shields are used in conjunction only with masonry or concrete walls, and are made out of sheet metal. They also keep wood members from becoming damp and harboring termites, too.

Do It Yourself Termite Treatments:

Doing it yourself is a tempting prospect when it comes to termites. After all, many treatments are extremely expensive, and if you apply them on your own, you'll at least be saving the cost of labor. However, some forms of treating termites should be applied only by trained personnel. Otherwise, there are environmental and health dangers, plus the termites may not be dealt with at all. Preventative treatments, arranging your home so that it won't attract termites, and similar methods are the best ones if you want to do it on your own.

Termite Tubes:

Termites create tubes of mud and fecal matter to cross spaces that aren't wet enough for them to survive in. Removing these tubes is one important step that you can use in your home. Make sure they're completely removed whenever you see them, and your home will be safer.

Termite Spray:

Termite sprays are a commonly used topical application for termite control. These are poisons sprayed around the base of the house and in places where it's though that termites may be dwelling. They cannot penetrate into wood in most cases, and aren't able to enter the termite nests, either. This limits their effectiveness, as they won't kill all the termites on their own. The is one popular treatment for do it yourselfers, but must be done carefully, and should be used in conjunction with other treatments. Termidor is one of the most common types of termite sprays, but it is not the only one. Termite sprays are relatively inexpensive.

Termite Bait:

Bait stations like Exterra and Sentricon are among the newer ways to deal with subterranean termites. What happens when these anti-termite measures are used is that a plastic tube, containing a piece of wood or other cellulose, is placed in your lawn. Usually, it's in a place where infestation is suspected. Then, these stations are checked to see if termites have visited them. If the wood in the station is damaged, it's replaced with an appealing bait that's laced with substances that disrupt insect growth. Termites eat these substances and spread them around the colony, slowly killing it. Bait stations can be quite expensive, but are less toxic than many barrier methods.

Termite Traps:

Termite traps are a method used mostly in Australia, but available in other countries, too. These above ground traps are loaded with cardboard, and allow you to see evidence of the termites inside. Once the termites have come into the trap, you can dose it, either killing the termites or allowing them to take poisons back to their homes, much like a bait station.

Natural Termite Treatments:

There are several treatments referred to as "natural" treatments. Some are more natural than others - for instance, orange oil comes directly from orange and other citrus fruits, and is refined before use, while boric acid and other borate treatments do come from naturally occurring substances, but are still chemical treatments.

Orange oil is injected directly into timbers with drywood termite infestations, and kills them quickly. This won't work for subterranean termites, or for houses with large infestations of drywood termites, but it is good for small colonies. It can be costly, but not as much as tenting, and it's much less toxic.

Borates are painted directly on the wood, and make it much less palatable to termites. This is most effective when it's done before the home is built, but spot treatment of older homes is still possible. Usually, other methods will need to be used as well. Borates are relatively inexpensive, but the process of using them is labor intensive, which can drive costs up.

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

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