How to Get Rid of Subterranean Termites
Subterranean termites are a subclass of termites that live for long periods of times. They can live in very large colonies and travel to places with lots of wood and metal, most notably your home. Such termites can weaken wood and even metal support structures, which in extreme cases may lead the collapsing of your home. Subterranean termites are the most destructive insect pests in the USA, causing more damage than fires and windstorms combined. They can be tricky to notice, but if you have them in your house then you need to act quickly to get rid of them.
Treating with Chemicals
Treat your wood.Simple yet effective wood curers can deter termites by simply increasing the strength of the wood. A small investment here can save you thousands in removal down the road. But be aware that over time as wood ages it will become softer and more vulnerable to termites.
Using liquid chemicals on wood.You can spray termiticide directly onto the surface of wood to deter subterranean termites from chewing through it. But keep in mind that spot treating wood will only protect against attacks in those specific areas and shouldn’t be considered a complete treatment.
Create a chemical barrier in the soil.By creating a chemical barrier around the outer perimeter of your home you can do a lot to stop subterranean termites from gaining access to your house. This can be achieved by the use liquid insecticide. You have to spray the soil beneath the foundation with the insecticide. This should be done pre-construction and is a requirement in much of the USA.
- It is possible to perform a post-construction treatment. To do this requires holes to be drilled through slabs and insecticide to be injected beneath the foundation.
- There are a wide-range of products available for this, and in most states home owners can legally purchase these products if it's for personal use only.
- Online vendors have videos that you can watch so you can understand how to do this project effectively before you buy anything.
- If you are uncertain about how to do this, you should seek advice from a professional rather than risk causing damage.
Decide on repellent or non-repellent chemicals.When you are using chemical insecticides, it is important to know which to use. The two main types of chemicals are liquid repellents, and liquid non-repellents. Each of these have their advantages and disadvantages, so be sure to have a good understanding of how each of these work so you and try to evaluate what will work best for your treatment.
Use liquid repellent.As the name suggests this is used before the termites strike, as it discourages termites from attacking the foundation of your home. It will create a barrier to stop them from entering your home, and will last for several years. While the termites won’t cross the barrier, they will avoid it, and will move around it. It is extremely difficult to create a prefect barrier with no gaps under a fully constructed house, and termites may discover these spaces and gain access to the building.
- If some foraging subterranean termites find a gap in the repellent they will return with more termites.
Use liquid non-repellent termiticide.There are a few non-repellent termiticide treatments available to buy. These don’t stop the termites from attacking, but the chemical is lethal. If termites tunnel into the treatment they will be exposed to the termiticide and they will die.
- Foraging termites which have been exposed to the chemicals might pass it on in the colony through grooming and feeding which would kill more of the termites.
Baiting the Termites
Use bait traps to target the entire colony.Because of the size of termite colonies, the use of soil termiticide might only have a limited impact on the overall population.Baiting subterranean termites has become an increasingly popular way to tackle an infestation, and can also contribute to longer term deterrence and protection. Baits are slow-acting insecticides which are consumed and then brought back to the colony where the chemicals spreads out across the wider termite population.
- Some baits use Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs) which are very effective at decreasing and destroying whole colonies.
- IGRs have low toxicity to humans and pets, but often the most effective ones are only available to professionals.
Use bait traps to look for termites outside.You can set up a few traps to try to see if you have a colony of subterranean termites nearby. If you place a piece of untreated wood into the plastic bait traps, and push these down into the ground around the outside of your house, at approximately 10 feet intervals, you can flush out any termites close-by.
Check the traps for activity.You should check these traps regularly, every month or few months is good. If you remove the trap from the soil and there are live termites in it you should place some toxic bait into the trap and return it to the soil. Hopefully, the termites which have come for the untreated wood will now take the poisoned bait back to the colony, where the chemicals will spread across the population.
Use bait traps to tackle an infestation inside.The traps you place outside the periphery of your house will not have any impact on subterranean termites that have already dug into your house’s structure. There are some above-ground bait stations that are available. These are designed to work in largely the same way as the one pushed into the soil outside.
- You can attach these to an area where there is termite activity such as a mud tube, or some damaged woodwork.
- Be sure to read the label of whatever you use, as some baiting systems will be designed to work on their own, others with liquid spot-treatment.
Fumigating your Home
Consider fumigating your home.If the problem is severe, and immediate attention is necessary, you can look into fumigation options for termite control. Fumigation has the advantage of being able to treat every part of your home and its structure in one go. It is normally only recommended if multiple colonies are found in a single structure.
Contact an expert.Fumigation is not something that you can carry out yourself. It involves your house being covered over with a giant tent, and fumigators pumping in gas which spreads throughout your home. It is supposed to seep into every crack and crevice in one treatment and kill off the termites that have taken up residence there.
- A specialist will need to make specific plans for the particulars of your infestation.
Prepare for the fumigation.If your house is going to be fumigated, a pest control company will enter your home, and work for three to five days. Before they arrive you have to take precautions, including ensuring that all food is sealed well or removed from your home. The fumigators will take care of everything else and advise you how to be ready. You won’t be able to access the house until they are finished so you need to be prepared.
- There are two different types of poisons used to kill termites; one is a stomach poison, and the other a hormone which prevents termites to regrow a cuticle after moulting. The poisons have a two-fold benefit, since termites will eat the remains of their colony members.
- Even post tenting and fumigation, a problem may flare up once more with termites; unfortunately, this procedure does not rid your home of termite eggs.
Protecting your Home from Future Infestations
Avoid water accumulation near foundations.A good way to prevent future infestations is to make sure that you do not have an accumulation of water near your home’s foundations as this a prime habitat for subterranean termites. You can divert water with effective guttering, and by using devices such as downspouts and splash blocks.
- This also applies for any mulch or wet garden materials which could be attractive to termites.
Identify and fix structural problems in your home.Certain structural deficiencies can play a major part in heightening the chances of you suffering an infestation. Remedying these can be an effective long-term action which limits the probabilities of subterranean termites appearing. As the termites tend to enter where wood touches soil, you should have a clearance of at least twelve inches between wood at the base of your house and the soil.
- This also applies for porches or decking areas, where you should not have the wood directly on the soil.
Ventilate the hidden spaces in your home.A warm and humid environment in the dark areas of your house, such as crawl spaces, attics, and basements can be very inviting for termites. For subterranean termites, your basement or cellar will be a particularly popular area. You can make these areas less hospitable for termites by ensuring they are well ventilated to avoid those warm and humid conditions.
Discovering if your House has Subterranean Termites
Learn what they are.Termites are divided into three broad types: drywood; subterranean; and dampwood.They each have different characteristics and it is best to be certain that you know which type of termite is which so you can take the appropriate course of action. Subterranean termites feed off the cellulose in wood. The point where wood comes into contact with soil is the main entry point for subterranean termites.
Identify subterranean termites.Although they are generally dug in below your house and you may not see the termites themselves, it’s worth knowing a little about their appearance in case you find one and you want to identify it. There are three so-called ‘castes’ in a termite colony, each of which are different.
- Alates (more commonly known as swarmers) are dark-brown or black, and are around a quarter to a half inch long, with two pairs of wings of very similar length.
- Workers don’t have wings, are generally a quarter inch long, and are cream coloured.
- Soldiers are also wingless, but they have large mandibles (jaws). They are the defenders of the colony and are distinctive for their jaws and their creamy torso, and their brownish head.
Look for tell-tale signs in your wood.Probably the best way to determine whether or not you have an infestation is to look for the signs and marks that often indicate that a subterranean termite colony has taken up residence. One indicator is wood that appears layered. Subterranean termites only consume the softwood, so the hardwood portion remains, and this could give the wood a layered look.
- Dark patches or blisters in wood flooring can indicate termites.
- Wood may not look damaged, but if you tap it and it sounds hollow, this suggest that though the veneer is undamaged, the softer wood beneath has been eaten away.
Look for shed wings.Alates (or swarmer) termites are the ones you are most likely to find. What you think are flying ants, might in fact be swarmers. One difference is that swarmers are smaller and have four wings of about the same size, whereas ants have a pair large wings and one of smaller wings.
- Once they have mated, swarmers will shed their wings. They will leave them in a pile, which might look like fish scales.
- If you see a pile of wings like this on your windowsill, it could indicate an infestation.
Look for mud tubes.These foraging tubes go from the soil to the infested wood, and are brown and muddy in appearance. They are the routes the termites use to go to the wood from the soil, and are generally about pencil-width. Sometimes they are easy to spot, but they can also be hidden behind skirting boards, under floorboards or tucked away out of sight.
QuestionDo termites get on humans and animals and eat clothes?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. Termites only eat wood. They don't eat clothes and they don't go on humans or animals.Thanks!
QuestionCould I drill through tile floor if my house is built on a slab without damaging my pipes?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou could, as long as you know where the pipes are and you avoid them.Thanks!
QuestionDo I have to leave my home to have it treated for subterranean termites?Bobby LockCommunity AnswerNo. The treatment for subterranean termites is a soil treatment, not fumigation.Thanks!
What is the best treatment to get rid of termites? Chemical non repellent barrier or baiting stations?
How do you rid of subterranen termites that are in your home in an inside wall?
How soon before they take house over?
How do I keep termites from traveling on my things when moving from infested apartment to another apartment?
To get rid of subterranean termites, start with a simple wood cure, which deters termites by strengthening the wood. You can also spray termiticide directly onto the wood to keep termites from chewing through it, but spot treating wood will only protect against attacks in these specific areas. Alternatively, use bait traps, which use slow-acting insecticides that are eaten and brought back to the colony where the chemicals spread.
- Prevention is the best form of termite control. Be certain to deny them access to water sources, subterranean termites need this the most.
- There are documented instances of fumigation leading to death once homeowners returned to their roost. For safety measures, baiting is typically best and involving the least amount of noxious chemicals in your home.
- When using pesticide, it is your responsibility to ensure there is no danger of ill effects to nearby livestock, crops, or neighbouring property.
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