A home is your prized possession. From the minute you move in, you place your furniture where you want, paint the walls and even do construction. Sometimes, you call a contractor to knock down a wall and turn that first floor into a luxurious and bright space. However, your dream is about to become a nightmare when the contractor sits you down and tells you he found termites. You can only imagine what this means: your house is damaged. The good news is there is hope. Finding the problem and dealing with it promptly is an effective method and a first step to getting those pests out.
Little Soldiers Marching On
There are roughly forty termite species in North America. Termites are light colored, six legged insects that, depending on their species, are between 6-20 millimetres long. There are three main groups of termites: Subterranean, Drywood and Dampwood. These pests are responsible for billions of dollars a year in damage. They come into the house through cracks in the foundation and also through wood, such as doors, window frames, etc. Their main diet is cellulose, which is found in plants and wood.
Although termites are serious pests, they do not carry any diseases. Their bites are non-toxic and do not require medical attention. They are only attracted to wood and will not scuttle over your counters for scraps, like ants. Termites are found all over the United States and Canada.
Signs of an Infestation
There are many signs of termite infestation, some more outright than others.
- Hollow sounding wood: Termites will eat through wood, leaving barely any structure left. If you tap on the wall, it will sound hollow and may even splinter easily.
- Warped frames: door and window frames can warp as a result of the moisture termites give off by working.
- Feces: you may notice saw dust or wood shavings outside a small hole in the wall. This is what termite feces look like. While termite droppings do not pose a significant health problem, they can irritate people with severe allergies or asthma.
- Wings: This usually happens in the spring when the mature termites are looking to mate or are looking for a new colony. They fly to the location and when they find it, they will break off their wings, as they will never need them again.
- Bear in mind, termites are actually quite noisy for their size. If you put your ear to a wall you think they are working in, you can hear them eating away at your home.
- Mud Tubes: Search around the outside perimeter of your home for these. Termites create mud tubes to protect themselves while they travel from the ground (where they nest) to their access point in your home.
- Subterranean: These are the most common termites and they live in the soil. They are attracted to moisture in the house and enter the home through mud tubes along the foundation. Once there, they will eat through wood at an alarming pace. They eat along wood grain.
- Drywood: Drywood termites live in the Southern parts of the United States and along coastal regions. They nest in wood free from moisture or decomposition. Once there, they will bore into the woodwork and eat across and along the wood grain. Please bear in mind; Drywood termites don’t only enter the home through the basement. They can be present on any floor and in any part of the house.
- Dampwood: These termites love damp areas and are found along the Western and Southern States. If you have a leaky roof or other types of moisture in the house, Dampwood termites will find it. Once you repair the water-damaged structure, the pests will leave.
How to Get Rid of Termites
Having termites does not mean a death sentence for your home. There are numerous ways to get repel and get rid of these pests. These ways are divided into four sections: General Housekeeping, Holistic, Commercial and Other.
- Seal up any cracks or crevices you notice in the home, especially if you see a mud tube leading up to it from the exterior.
- Make sure to take care of any existing structural or water damage. You don’t want an open invitation for termites.
- You can even treat termites yourself in your home, such as installing bait stations.
- Make a spray with any of the following: clove oil, vinegar, garlic, neem or orange. Acidic liquid kills termites.
- Wet some cardboard and place it near the area rife with termites. Once they start chewing on the cardboard, you can kill them with insecticide.
You can find any of the following products at a Superstore or Home Improvement Center:
- Diatomaceous Earth: this product is found in powdered form. Place the product in the area infected by termites or along the foundation and cracks. The Diatomaceous Earth damages the pest’s exoskeleton, causing them to dehydrate and die.
- Bait Traps: the traps use an insecticide, which the termites ingest and bring back to the nest. Once there, they share it, which kills other members. The traps are either installed underground or indoors.
- Granules and Sprays: these products are distributed outside near the foundation or wooden structures. Once the product comes into contact with water, it will kill the termites on contact.
- Foam: the foam is used to reach termites in your walls. It acts as a long lasting poison to the termites. The foam is safe for humans. Drill a small hole in the walls where the termites are located and inject the problem. The problem will regulate itself in the next couple of days.
Because termites cause severe problems, it is strongly suggested to call an exterminator. They offer preventative, seasonal and radical solutions, each ensuring an extra layer of protection. Once done, be sure to contact a building inspector to deal with any underlying structural issues.
Termites do not sleep and eat twenty-four hours a day.
Termites groom each other, which prevents disease.
Termites are great for the environment. Rain can penetrate deeper into the soil, thanks to their tunnels.