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Termite Control For Your Home

Do you suspect that termites have infested your home? Well, termites are pretty challenging to locate before you can notice any significant signs of infestation in your home. Moreover, they can spread very quickly, forming colonies and feeding on wood and wood products, causing a lot of damage to your property. Common signs of termite infestation include stuck windows and doors, discolouration of drywall, paint peeling, and more.

If a termite infestation is left untreated for long enough, the walls of your house might literally start to crumble. You can get rid of them with the right termite protection techniques after a proper pest inspection has been conducted. It is also possible to stop termites from re-entering your space with the best termite barriers. This article will cover everything from termites to their prevention and treatment methods.

Types Of Termites

There are thousands of species of termites located throughout the world. But even though there are such wide varieties of termite species, they are mainly of these three main types.

  • Drywood termites
  • Dampwood termites
  • Subterranean termites

Dampwood termites

Dampwood termites, just as their name suggests, attack wood with higher moisture levels. Physically, they are larger than other types of termites and tend to infest stumps, tree branches, logs, and different types of damp wood that have decayed or are decaying.

If damp wood termites infest your property, they most likely entered the building through damp, decaying wood touching the soil or where a leaky pipe creates moisture. Another notable thing about damp wood termites is that rather than building mud tubes to cover up their entry holes, they cover them with their faecal matter.

Drywood termites

Unlike damp wood termites, dry wood termites only infest dry wood and do not need contact with soil. Because they like to infest dry wooden materials, they usually infest roof materials, wooden furniture, wooden wall supports, and so on.

If you suspect that dry wood termites have infested your house, you should check around for the presence of discarded wings. This is because they typically shed their wings after swarming an area. Chances are that they entered the house through infested wood that you unknowingly brought into your space.

Subterranean termites

Subterranean termites are the most commonly known termite that infests homes. They are known for causing extensive structural damage to many homes yearly. Subterranean termites, including Western and Eastern types, are found in the ground and create tunnels of mud tubes. These mud tubes facilitate their travel within the house.

Even though they usually feed on anything and everything, subterranean termites are pretty picky. They prefer to chew on softwood found between wood grains. You might mistake subterranean swarmers for flying ants; however, they have four distinct wings that set them apart from flying ants.

Signs Of A Termite Infestation

You will definitely know that termites have infested your home as you will come across several signs. The notable signs of a termite infestation include:

Stuck windows or doors

Have the windows or doors in your home been feeling stuck recently? Or have they suddenly become much harder to open or close? These are sometimes the early signs of a termite infestation. Termites usually target woods that are exposed and easy to access, which is why wooden windows and door frames are generally the primary target.

After they start feeding on the wood, your windows and doors might begin to warp, making it difficult to properly open or close them. Besides stuck doors or windows, damage from termites may also come in the form of structural problems in your residence, such as crumbling baseboards or sagging floors and ceilings.

However, stuck windows don't always point to a termite infestation as it might result from wood rot or seasonal humidity changes. So, for further reassurance of termite infestation, look for damaged woods with termites or tunnels with dried dirt.

Damage under paint or wallpaper

Termites usually create tunnels called termite galleries and tiny pin holes named exit holes. They make these while feeding on cardboard and wood panelling underneath your walls' surfaces. So, sometimes they might do these without causing any damage to the thin coat of paint on the surface. Such damage can be hard to detect unless the paint is removed.

This is also one of the reasons why most people discover termite damage during home repairs and renovations. Suppose you see an unusual appearance on your house's painted or wallpapered surfaces. In that case, it could be an early sign of termites. If observed carefully, you will see signs of termite damage underneath, like:

  • Small holes through which termites have eaten through
  • Peeling of wallpaper or paint
  • Bubbling paint
  • Buckling of wood
  • Dented areas on the wall
  • Thin sunken winding lines

Termite swarmers and discarded wings

If you keep seeing termite swarmers or wings inside your house or building, it is a clear sign of an active termite infestation. Like humans, termites also have a caste system comprising workers, soldiers, and swarmers. Termite swarmers are the main culprit as they are the reproductive members of a termite colony.

Termite swarmers, also known as alates, are easily distinguishable as they have two pairs of large wings. They are pale-coloured and approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inches (0.6-1.3 cm) in length. They shed their wings after they find their mates after leaving the colony. You will most likely see termite swarmers flying around early spring, as this is when they go out to find mates and create new colonies.

Since swarmers attract light, you will most likely find them around doors and windows. You might often find dead swarmers or discarded wings near your windows and entryways as swarmers don't stay outside long enough. Even though termite swarmers look like flying ants, they have straighter bodies and two symmetrical pairs of wings. But flying ants have a tiny waist and two unsymmetrical pairs of wings.

Mud tubes

The next sign to look for around your property is mud tubes. Mud tubes look like narrow veins running along the side of your house. These tubes usually begin from the ground and extend towards exposed wood areas.

Termites create mud tubes to protect themselves from the dryness of the air. Subterranean termites are the most widespread termites around the world. They have a thin exoskeleton that can quickly dry out if exposed to air for long. So, they need a humid environment to survive. That's why they create mud tubes that allow them to travel from their colony to the food source safely.

If you find mud tubes, you clearly have termites living there. But for further confirmation, you can break off a piece in the mud tube and look for live termites. Even if you don't find one right off the back, come back later to see if the tube has been repaired. If so, then you clearly have an active infestation.

But if you don't find any signs of live termites and the mud tube is not repaired either, this doesn't mean you're in the clear. They might have simply moved down the block to another part of your house for easier access to the food source.

Termite droppings

Termite droppings, also known as "frass," are another sign of termite activity. Since termites eat through the wood, they usually push it out of the colony after digesting it to avoid any build-up.

The human eye can see only the frass from dry wood termites. Their frass is usually wood coloured and seems similar to wood dust or shavings. But unlike dry wood termites, subterranean termites use their faecal matter to build mud tunnels. So, if they infest your home, you will most likely not see any droppings.

Types Of Termite Treatment Techniques

Eliminating a termite infestation can be as easy as setting up a bait system or as complicated as digging up a trench around your home to create termite barriers. There are many methods of termite protection available on the internet. But among those, the four main types of termite treatment techniques include:

Liquid-soil termiticides

Liquid-soil termiticides are one of the most long-lasting treatments that can keep your home safe from termites for a long time. It usually lasts up to five years on average, but some products claim a longer protection period. However, this treatment isn't as straightforward as it requires digging up a trench around the home.

After digging the trench, apply the liquid treatment and ensure that there are no gaps in the chemical barrier before filling the trench. Termites can easily find gaps in the barrier and enter your home. As a result, it is suggested to have yearly termite inspections to have any pests controlled as well as to be on the safer side.

Applying the treatment might seem complicated to many, so it is easier to use a sprayer. Even though the treatment doesn't last as long when applied without the trench, this way, it is convenient for most DIYers to form a chemical barrier in the surrounding of their home.

Termite baits

Using termite baits to fight a termite infestation requires strategic placement of baits around the house for them to find. The baits usually include powerful active ingredients like hexaflumuron that slowly but surely kills the termites. Foraging termites take the readily available bait back to their nest and infect all the other termites in the colony.

This method is kind of slow, as it might take a month before acting on the termites. Still, it is very effective for destroying an infestation. Termite baits also necessitate proper monitoring and maintenance to confirm that the bait stations still have bait.

Termiticide building materials

Suppose you want to prevent termite infestations in new construction. In that case, a great way is to treat the building materials with termiticides before starting the construction. You can also treat the lumber with a spray or a brush-on concentrated solution.

There is also an alternative, which is to apply termiticides wherever the new structure touches the ground for pre-treating the soil. Choose the type of building materials that are repellent to termites, like woods that are high in chemicals. You can also choose naturally termite-resistant materials like metal, concrete, or some types of wood.

Wood treatment

Wood treatment does not involve as much hassle as the previous methods, as all you have to do is spray or coat the wood surfaces in your home with a termiticide. This termite treatment method removes existing termite infestations and soaks into the wood to prevent future pest issues. All the pre-treated termite-resistant construction materials use a similar product to coat the lumber used to build a home.

Sprays are the way to go for new construction as it is easier to apply them directly to the material's surface. However, go for injection foams for pre-existing structures as they enter all cracks and crevices and adequately soak into the unpainted corner of the painted wood.

Home Prevention Measures For Termites

Termite infestations spread very quickly in your home, requiring an effective termite treatment to completely eliminate them. However, if your home has not been infested yet, it is crucial to take as many preventative steps as possible to protect your home. You can take the following steps to help prevent termites:

  • Every season, search the foundations and sides of your home for signs of termites. These insects create mud tubes to protect themselves from the dryness in the air and the sun. The mud tubes look like lines of mud lining up the foundation and the sidings of your home.
  • Termites infest wood and damp wooden areas. So, proper ventilation and sealing are needed to reduce the moisture build-up in the home. Make sure that all windows, doors, and vents are completely sealed. If you have an attic, you can also schedule yearly maintenance for ventilation if needed.
  • Don't keep wood piles close to the house and cut off vegetation that is creeping too closely. Termites are usually drawn to such sources for food and can easily follow the trail to wooden doors or walls.
  • Termites are not so interested in wood that is combined with chemicals. So, if you have any outdoor construction projects, use pressure-treated wood for termite protection.
  • If these DIY preventive measures don't work, you have no option but to seek professional help. The professional pest exterminators use a very powerful termiticide that immediately removes them. But as it's so powerful, you might need to evacuate the house temporarily.

Use Termite Experts To Inspect Your Property

Ideally, the first thing you should do if you have a termite problem is to get an inspection from a reputable company. A professional can tell you precisely what kind of termites are in your home, how much damage they've done, and what treatments work best in that situation. They will also be able to recommend ways of preventing them from returning.

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