What’s the Best Termite Treatment? Subterranean termites, or termites, in short, are also often referred to as white ants. The term white ant, however, is misleading since termites are not related to ants, don’t look like ants, and are not white.
There are two main types of termites: Subterranean termites which must begin a nest in the ground, hence the subterranean part of the name, and Drywood termites that nest in timber without any contact with the ground.
Generally, dry wood termites are of academic interest only, except in very isolated situations. From here on, when I refer to termites, I mean subterranean termites specifically.
Subterranean termites: Termite infestations are often unnoticeable until their severity reaches a level that causes huge damage to your house.
Though there are a number of options available to treat termites, the main concerns revolve around checking the probable signs of termites. Once found, they can be easily eradicated with the help of various professional termite treatment services available in your locality.
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Here is all you need to know about tracking down an infestation and how to get rid of termites.
#1: Signs of termites
Since termites work silently damaging your house and furniture, it is quite difficult to spot it at an early stage. A constant look and thorough check may help you in finding them easily.
There are two types of termites, one that lives underground in soil called “subterranean termites” and the other which makes their home entirely on wood called “drywood termites”.
You’ll need to keep an eye on both the places to spot an infestation. You may find signs of damage caused due to termites as:
– Discarded wings of termites in your house
Termites that are reproductive are called and fly to other places to find new homes. If you see a group of such insects flying around your home or trace some discarded wings, there is probably an infestation around you.
– Tube-like structures made of mud: Such structures are easily visible on wooden objects of your home like wooden flooring and furniture and even on walls. It is nothing but a part of their nest which is damaging your property.
– Wood which sounds hollow: Drywood termites feed</em> on cellulose and create a hollow space in any wood. If you tap on such wood, it makes a hollow sound showing an infestation.
How to get rid of termites
There are a number of options to choose from for treating termites. The treatment depends upon the type of termite present in your home and the degree of infestation.
A professional expert will be able to decide which treatment is suitable for the complete eradication of termites after a thorough examination of your property.
The best termite treatment methods
#1: Liquid Termite Treatment
This method involves use of a liquid termiticide which is sprayed in and around your home where an infestation is noticed.
Any termite which comes in contact with it is either repelled or killed. Nonrepellent liquids are also used which does not make their presence noticeable by termites and kills them effectively in their place.
The soil surrounding your property should be treated with such termiticide for effective eradication and also prevents them from entering your house from nearby soil.
#2: Termite Baits
This is one of the best termite treatment methods that help in eliminating the insect from your house. Liquid treatment is done in entry points after thorough monitoring of the checkpoints in your house where there is a possibility of infestation.
The termites when ingesting this liquid spreads it to other mates in the nest and get controlled much effectively.
#3: Borate Termite Treatment
Also known as wood treatment, it is basically done to eradicate drywood termites. A termiticide containing borate is directly applied to the wood surface infested with termites which dies immediately.
The treatment is odorless and does not cause harm to humans. It also acts as a preventive measure for termite infestation when applied during a new construction of home and furniture.
If your house is infested with multiple nests of termites which are hard to eradicate with a single treatment, fumigation of the entire structure is often recommended by experts. It is the best answer to how to treat termites completely and effectively.
The process involves evacuating humans and animals from the house and covering it with a tent. Then the area is fumigated with termiticide which reaches every corner and cracks of the property and kills all the termites.
This is the most effective termite treatment as it involves complete <em>eradication of termites from the entire area.
Termite treatment cost
Each of the above-mentioned methods on termite treatment may involve a reasonable cost which is based on the following ground:
– Size of the building, Severity of the infestation
– Foundation details, Soil type, Climate The termite treatment cost can only be estimated after proper examination of the above factors by an expert and the method used on how to get rid of termites. However, it is essential to know that the cost involved in termite treatment is much lesser as compared to repairing and replacing the damaged property.
The foraging behavior of termites (the process of finding food) is a common source of misunderstanding by consumers and the source of folklore dispensed by unethical termite treatment salesmen.
There is fairly solid scientific evidence that termites do not see, do not smell and do not sense the environment much beyond the boundary of their tunnel system.
The seam of gold for termites is a source of cellulose (wood or plant material) or water. This is a fairly random process. It may appear that they know where there is a source of food (i.e. your house) but they find your house by a random process.
If they knew about the presence of a house then every house would be infested every year; because suburban houses represent the most attractive source of food for termites in the surrounding environment.
While the process of foraging is generally random, termites do follow natural and manmade structures. For example, it is not uncommon for termites to follow pipes and conduits that run through the surrounding environment into buildings.
These pipes and conduits can unwittingly, but effectively, lead the termites to the side of the building or even into the building. Combine the presence of a pipe entering a building with a water leak from the pipe and you have an effective, irresistible invitation for termites to enter the building.
Equally, a piece of timber connecting the building to the ground is also an open invitation for termites to enter the house.
Not only are termites foraging for food (wood) but they are also seeking reliable sources of water to ingest. This ‘drinking’ usually means eating wet soil or under ideal circumstances wet wood.
Foraging for food and therefore the tunneling process of termites is relentless. The process continues day and night, winter and summer. Foraging and feeding do slow under dry and or cold conditions.
In the suburban environment, there are often artificial supplies of water (leaking pipes, air-conditioner condensation, for termites to exploit even during prolonged periods of drought.
Soil temperature usually remains within a range suitable for optimum termite activity during most of the year, although air temperature varies widely. It would only be during the depths of winter in the southern latitudes and the height of summer in the northern latitudes that soil temperature may become limiting to termite activity.
In the process of foraging for food, termites will eat through materials with no nutritional value. The soil is the major component of the material eaten in search of food.
However, termites have been known to tunnel (randomly eat) through seemly inedible materials such as lead sheathing on cables, rubber tires on tractors and hard plastics. In the building situation, termites can tunnel through plasterboard lining, carpet underlay, plastic sheeting, and the list go on.
In summary, there are few natural materials that termites are unable to ‘eat’ through, even material of no nutritional value.
Feeding and Digestion
Termites feed on cellulose (plant material). The main component of wood is cellulose. It is cellulose that the termites need for food.
It is not just the structural and building timbers on which termites feed but anything of plant material origin (e.g. paper, cardboard, ply-board, furniture, cotton cloth and timber musical instruments etc).
It not just the structure of the building that is in danger from termite attack but also much of the contents of the building.
Termites eat plant material (commonly wood) as a source of cellulose. Cellulose forms the structure of plant tissues. For example, cellulose comprises about 50% of wood and 90% of cotton fibers. Cellulose is a polymer (long chain) of thousands of glucose (sugar) molecules.
Termites cannot digest cellulose. Termites must rely on micro-organisms (bacteria and protozoa) in their intestines (gut) to actually digest the cellulose and release the sugars. In this respect, the digestion system of termites is similar to that of the cow.
There is a symbiotic relationship between the termites and the micro-organisms that live in the termite’s intestines. The micro-organisms must rely on the termites to find and gather cellulose.
The termites must rely on the micro-organisms to convert the cellulose to something the termites can digest. Neither group can live without the other.
Worker termites are responsible for all the foraging for food, gathering of food, transport of food, distribution of food, the removal of feces (waste) from the nest and the disposal of feces.
Colony and Organization
– Mature termite colonies
Mature termite colonies may number in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of individuals.
Each colony is composed of individuals belonging to defined castes. Each caste has specific jobs or responsibilities to perform within the colony. Once an individual termite forms into a worker or soldier the process cannot be reversed.
The caste system is detailed below:
– The Reproductive Caste
These are the Queen and King of the colony. The Queen termite, like the Queen Bee, is the only egg-laying individual.
– The Alate Caste
Alates are fully formed adult insects with eyes, wings and reproductive organs. The purpose of alates is to form new colonies and sustain the species.
Alates must begin a colony in the ground. Alates cannot fly into your house and start a nest. Successful alates become the Queen and King of a new colony. One of the characteristics of the Alate caste is their ability to shed their wings after the swarming flight.
It is often the presence of these gossamer-like wings caught in spider’s webs, littering the floor or floating on the top of the pool, that alert homeowners to an occurrence of a termite swarm in the previous night.
Swarming usually occurs in the late afternoon or early evening after a storm or heavy rain event, while the atmospheric humidity is high.
Supplementary Reproductive Caste
The Supplementary Reproductive caste, are produced by most species of termites and are potential alates. Supplementary are thought to be Queens and Kings in waiting.
For example, if the current Queen was to die and there was no replacement, the colony would soon die. A supplementary Queen takes the place of the dead Queen and the colony survives.
This replacement of reproductive castes members by supplementary caste members helps to explain how a termite colony can survive and grow for many decades.