termites


Learn How to Prevent Termites from Invading Your Home.

Subterranean termites are social insects that live in nests or colonies in the soil. Each
colony consists of three castes of individuals: reproductives, workers, and soldiers. The king and queen are the
only active reproductives, they perform no other function. They are fed by the other termites, and some have lived
up to 25 years. So even in the insect world, it’s good to be the king (and queen).


Homeowners seldom have the experience, availability of pesticides, and equipment needed to perform
the job effectively. Effective termite control usually requires specialized equipment and often 200 or more gallons
of prepared termiticide solution per house.

However, there are certain steps homeowners can take to help prevent termite infestation.

Identification

1. Reproductives can be winged or wingless.

2. The winged are coal black to pale yellow-brown, flattened and about 1/4 to 3/8 inch long,
with pale or smoke-gray to brown wings.

3. Wingless are white to cream-colored with short wing buds.

4. Workers are wingless, white to grayish-white with a round, yellow-brown head and about 1/4
to 3/8 inch long.

5. Soldiers are also wingless and resemble workers except that they have large, rectangular,
yellowish and brown heads with large mandibles.

Queen

Prevention

1. Avoid moisture accumulation near the foundation. Divert water away with properly functioning
downspouts, gutters, and splash blocks.

2. Ground near the foundation needs to be sloped or graded in order for surface water to drain
away from the building. Poor draining may need tiles or drains installed. Termites (and most insects) are attracted
to moisture.

3. Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation. Crawl spaces should have ventilation
openings in the foundation at the rate of two square feet per 25 linear feet of foundation wall. One vent should
be within five feet of each exterior corner of the building.

4. Prevent shrubs, vines, and other vegetation from growing over and covering the vents. It is
important to have maximum cross-ventilation. Install polyethylene sheeting over 75% to 85% of the soil surface
in crawl spaces to reduce excess moisture.

5. Before and during construction, never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the backfill, especially
near the building. Be sure to remove old form boards, grade stakes, etc., left in place after the building was
constructed.

6. Remove old tree stumps and roots around and beneath the building. Never stack or store firewood,
lumber, or other wood products against the foundation or within a crawl space.

7. Prevent trellises or vines from touching the house.

8. Prevent any potential hidden paths of termite entry into the structure.

9. Use termite metal shields on interior walls extending two inches out and two inches down at
a 45 degree angle from the wall. This non-corrosive metal should have no cracks and be at least 12 inches above
the ground.

10. The concrete foundation should be reinforced to prevent cracking. Use concrete or steel supports
when in contact with soil.

11. Most importantly, eliminate any wood contact of your home with the soil. An 18 inch gap between
the soil and wooden portions of the building is ideal.

12. Try to maintain six to eight inches between ground level and porch steps, lattice work, and
door or window frames.

13. Pull or grade soil back away from the foundation.

14. Wood posts and stairs embedded in concrete can also be paths of entry by termites.

15. Wood mulch can attract termites, especially when damp and moist. When mulch is used, avoid
contact against the wood siding or frames of doors and windows. Pea gravel or crushed stone are much less attractive
to termites, ants, pillbugs, millipedes, earwigs, and crickets.

Treatment

As previously mentioned, termite extermination is a job for professionals. Deal only with a licensed,
certified pest control exterminator. Ideally the firm should belong to a city, state, or national pest control
association. Get at least three competitive estimates before signing a contract for control measures.

There are several commercially available products sold to homeowners (the good stuff is sold
only to licensed contractors). If you want to do-it-yourself, try these products.

1. For wood treatment, homeowners may apply borates or bendiocarb one percent dust to voids or
channels in damaged structure members.

2. For soil treatment, only DursbanĀ® or Ortho-KlorĀ®, available at garden centers, may
be used by homeowners. You can apply these chemicals when treating sandboxes, fence posts and other wood objects
not attached and away from the house.

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