One termite says to the other, “I know times are tough, but particle board again?” It’s kind of a funny joke, but if you have termites infesting your house, you’re probably not laughing right now. Termites love wood. They see wood like a college kid sees a delicious pizza, they can eat it morning, noon, and night, and they don’t care what kinds of toppings it has or if it’s served piping hot or stone cold. So, let’s learn how to get rid of termites!
There are two kinds of termites – dry wood and subterranean – and either can destroy your home in months. As you’ve probably already guessed, dry wood termites live in dry wood. They live in smaller colonies, and they can be very destructive. Subterranean termites can be tougher to find and tougher to get rid of because they tend to enter through the foundation of your home.
They can destroy a home from the ground up. But it doesn’t matter what type you have; if you have them, you must get rid of them. That’s why it’s vital that you, as a homeowner, discover termites as early as possible after infestation begins. And it’s why you must learn how to get rid of termites by any means necessary.
How destructive are termites to my home?
If termites eat about a foot of a single two-by-four in about a half year. This might not sound like a lot, but that two-by-four can be significant if it’s within your home’s foundation. Some termites can devour that same piece of wood a lot faster.
Not only that – when termites are eating wood, they’re also simultaneously digging tunnels, and their colonies are growing. And each of those colonies contains more than 50,000 termites. Termite colonies can also cause foul odors because of the vast amounts of fecal pellets they leave behind. And those pellets can also blister and destroy your walls. Sometimes, homeowners with termite infestations will find themselves in the unfortunate position of gutting whole sections of their homes to rectify the damage done by a termite invasion.
What kind of environment helps termites to thrive?
Termites love dankness and darkness. While this is true of subterranean termites, dry wood termites (as their name suggests) can and do live in dryness; they don’t need moisture to live. This fact is why all homeowners must know and understand the behaviors of termites.
Subterranean termites live in and eat soft wood, which is why they can destroy a home’s foundation. Dry wood termites live in and eat dry wood products such as furniture, window and door frames, and wooden fences.
How do I know if my house has termites?
It is essential to inspect your home’s outer perimeter. Because we’ve already established that some termites like dry wood and others like moist wood, you’ll need to inspect all areas that contain wood. First, look for water sources that could be keeping any ground areas around your home moist.
These can include leaking water faucets or downspouts because they can cause moisture to any wood or soil around your home. Also, be mindful of tree roots growing close to your home. Areas of dry wood that can lead to termite infestations include wooden fence posts, firewood piles, and mulch. Perform these inspections on your home quarterly. An easy way to remember is to do it when seasons change.
While performing these inspections, be particularly mindful of any structural damage that can be going on at the first level of your house. Use a flashlight to view any damage that’s hard to see. While you’re inspecting your home, make a note of any droppings. It doesn’t sound like a fun job, but you may even want to collect these to show to a professional.
How to Get Rid of Termites
This may not be the best solution; however, if your budget isn’t friendly to a professional termite intervention at this time, there are things you can do to minimize a termite infestation. If you have the time and patience, and if the invasion has not yet risen to pandemic proportions, you may even be able to get rid of them by yourself. Try the following steps to get rid of these nasty critters and prevent further termite scourge.
Remove those attractive nuisances.
Inspecting your home is only the first step. Now you must take action, and first things first. Do everything you must to get rid of anything that can draw termites. Naturally, that doesn’t mean you have to cut down all the trees on your property or get rid of your wooden fence.
But it does mean keeping these free of moist areas and regularly inspecting that they’re free of termites and damage from them. You’ll also want to remove all moist wood and mulch from the areas surrounding your home. Plastic sheeting can be placed on the topsoil to replace the old mulch. Finally, keep an area of at least four inches between your home’s foundation and the mulch to separate your house from any pests. Lava rock and gravel can be placed in gaps as effective deterrents.
Treat trouble spots
Your next step is to treat trouble spots near and around your home. Again, getting rid of all wood around your house likely is not an option. Treat wood with termiticides that will help to keep termites away. Laundry bleach and boric acid are also effective for killing termites because they attack their tiny nervous systems. Termiticides can be purchased at any home improvement or hardware store, and you can also find laundry bleach and boric acid at most supermarkets.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be careful with all pesticide products! Read all labels and ask knowledgeable store staff members if the product you’re buying can be dangerous to humans and/or pets.
Another viable option is adding certain species of worms to areas around your house, particularly nematodes. Do you know how termites love to eat wood? Well, termites are delicious pizza to nematodes! Nematodes are small worms that act as parasites to termites. They attack termites at their larvae, which is an effective means of getting rid of termites and preventing further infestations.
Prevent further invasions
It’s no secret that prevention is often the key to any problem. Be continuously looking for moist wood around your home, and get rid of it before it starts an infestation. Repair leaks throughout your home, such as leaking faucets or downspouts. Seal up cracks in your walls and your home’s foundation. If you can’t do these things yourself, hire a professional; the money you spend on prevention will be far outweighed in curing further termite invasions. Finally, spray pesticides at least monthly to kill termites that may have already gotten in or near your home.
When should I call a professional?
All homeowners must know that DIY termite control or eradication can be dangerous. It can also be messy and time-consuming. If you don’t have the time, the energy, the money, or even the stomach to get rid of these buggers yourself, you should probably call a pro right off the bat. Because of the level of destruction they can cause to your home, you may not want to go it alone. Here are some indicators that can help you decide when to call a professional.
You see droppings
Nothing screams “pest!” in your home like droppings. Termite droppings can be several different colors, depending upon the species. Most are either tan, reddish-brown, or black. The problem with this description is that black or brown droppings can describe the color of most pest droppings.
Rule of thumb when you see droppings? You’ve got an infestation of something. If you don’t have the budget to use a pro to get rid of the termites, at least call one to determine if you have termites and what type. From there, get a few estimates and see if you can afford a professional eradication.
You see buckling or swelling wood.
Buckling wood doesn’t necessarily mean termites, but it’s a good indicator. ‘Knock on wood isn’t just a superstitious means of staying lucky; it can be a good way to find hollowed-out wood components within your home, and hollowing wood can mean termites.
Conversely, buckling wood can also be a sign of termites. So too can be a door that’s hard to close or a sagging hardwood floor.
You see mud tubes
These are exactly what they sound like: tubes of dirt. These are actually tunnels created by termites to be used to transport their colonies further into your home’s structure. Interior ceilings and exterior walls can contain these; at the first sign of such tunnels, homeowners need to take action.
Tips for prevention
Quarterly DIY inspections are a great means of keeping termites away for good. At least three or four times a year, grab a flashlight and take a walk around your property to identify termite indicators. You’re looking for moist wood, mud tubes, swarms, droppings, and buckling or swelling wood. Since subterranean termites love darkness, use your flashlight to get into hard-to-see places.
Moist wood and even dry wood piles in and around your home are like engraved invitations to termites to get into the foundation of your house. Be sure to keep all wood piles at least 15 to 20 feet away from the perimeter of your house. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure all the shrubs and trees on your property are properly trimmed and all live vegetation is kept at a safe distance from your home.
Remember all those castle stories you read or heard about as a kid? You know, the ones where the castle had an awesome mote around it? Think of this project as digging a safety mote around your home. Dig a trench around the entire perimeter of your house and fill it with a foam termiticide that will keep termites from getting into the wood structures of your foundation, as well as the furniture and window, and door frames within your house.
Annual inspections by a professional
Try to allocate part of your home budget each year to an annual pest inspection that will be performed by a professional. No one will be quite as thorough in such an inspection of your house as someone who’s been in the business and knows just what to look for.
A pro has a regular investigative routine and will be able to probe all the necessary areas of your home where a termite is likely to live, thrive, and destroy. The fact about a professional is that they can see what you don’t.
Make times tough for termites. Kill them, or at least make them pull up stakes and go somewhere else. Take the time now to learn how to get rid of termites to protect your property effectively. Your home depends on you to keep it safe from destruction. If you don’t feel comfortable going the DIY route, consider calling a professional.
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