What to Do About Termites


Termites destroy billions of dollars' worth of homes and businesses each year. These insects live in nests that contain large numbers of termites. Because of this, once they infest a structure they are difficult to remove. The insects can also infest hard-to-reach areas and have the ability to tunnel upward to reach a building. As such, infestations are often best treated by professionals to make sure the infestation is stopped.


  • The most common termite in the United States is subterranean termites. They live in underground nests that can be up to 10 feet below ground. They feed on wood, insulation and paper, among other items, and it's imperative they have water access. They can build tunnels above ground to reach structures. They may swarm inside your house. Termites usually work slowly; a large, established nest, which may have up to a million workers, will eat up to one two-by-four stud annually.


  • Mud tunnels are a common way to spot termites. A dry tunnel may indicate inactivity. To find out, scrape off a one- to two-inch piece in the middle. If termites are active, the section will be rebuilt quickly. If you notice a swarm inside your home, you must decide whether to find a professional service or try to do it yourself.


  • If you need the entire structure treated, it should be done by professionals. If your building is on a concrete slab, the biggest problem will be finding the insects' entry points, such as cracks, joints and plumbing entrances. The nest could be below the house. Treating this may require drilling into the slab.

    If the entire house is treated, get a one-year, unconditional guarantee against a recurring infestation. The company may also suggest you enter into an annual maintenance agreement, which means you pay a set rate for the company to inspect the property each year. If you decide on such an agreement, make sure you read the documents carefully so you know exactly what you'll be getting.

    It is a must that you do your research and choose a responsible and licensed extermination company. Ask for referrals from friends and family. Contact at least three companies and ask them for references. Get inspections by the companies and be sure to ask whether the professionals will treat a recurring infestation for free.

Do It Yourself

  • You'll need to know about construction to find entry points. The job will require certain equipment, including a masonry drill, large capacity tanks, soil treatment rods and pumps. Hundreds of gallons of pesticide will be necessary for application to the foundation, inside foundation walls and underneath concrete.

    Treatments can be a liquid pesticide or baits. Pesticides cause a long-lasting chemical barrier that keeps termites from entering a building. Termites stuck inside will die. Baits rely on paper products infused with a material fatal to the insects. Baits go underneath the ground in plastic stations. Termites eat the bait and share it with the nest.

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