Termites in House:
The Horror Story and How to Avoid the Mighty Mites
There are few things more stressful to a homeowner than the thought of a termite infestation. The damage caused by termites in a house that can be done won’t just hurt your property; it will hurt your pocketbook as well. To help you prevent an infestation, let’s take a look at how to stop termites from entering your home.
As Dusty walked down the creaky wooden stairs into the couple’s basement he was immediately assaulted with a dank smell of musty old newspapers and paint-thinner. That can’t be a good sign, he thought to himself. It was the type of old-fashioned, unfinished basement that was the setting of at least a dozen horror movies over the last decade.
Mr. and Mrs. Harmon were newlyweds who had just moved into this house—their dream house—a two-story brick colonial just off one of the nicer streets in the city. Mr. Harmon was exceptionally nice, and he and Dusty had hit it off on the phone.
The reason for the call was that the right side of the house had started to sag. Dusty couldn’t tell by looking, but he could tell from the panic in Mr. Harmon’s voice that the couple was convinced something was amiss.
Dusty was in a bit of a rush, but upon arriving he found himself shooting the breeze with Mr. Harmon for twenty minutes before they finally got down to business. Mr. Harmon confided how much they had paid for the home, and that’s when Dusty knew the Harmons were in trouble—Dusty was no real estate pro, but he knew enough about house prices in this area to know that the deal they had gotten was too good to be true.
“Sorry for the mess. We haven’t had time to clear out most of this junk.” Mr. Harmon flipped a light switch, and one of that old bulbs-on-a-wire sparkled to life overhead. “You said it was probably termites, but this wood looks fine to me.”
“Right you are, but these aren’t the support columns,” Dusty said. “Mind if we take a look inside that room?”
The room was enclosed in the middle of the basement, and it had an old bicycle and other junk piled suspiciously in front of it. Mr. Harmon cleared this debris aside and opened the door. And that’s when Dusty saw it: fresh drywall and paint—a very bad sign.
Dusty stepped into the room, having a strong premonition of what would happen next. He banged on the wall a few times and heard a rancorous swarming beneath it. The two men exchanged troubled glances.
Mr. Harmon stormed out of the room and came back a minute later with an old sledgehammer. He swung it like a designated hitter into the left side of the wall. The basement wasn’t well-lit, but through the hole, they could see thousands of tiny white termites crawling over each other.
“Mr. Harmon, I hope you have a good lawyer.”
Termite problems in the home are most serious.
Termites are very old-fashioned—they still have kings, queens, and a caste system for different types of workers and soldiers. The queen can live up to 45 years, and will sometimes find herself ruling over millions of loyal subjects. Notable events in her rule will include overseeing the construction of an elaborate termite nest out of dirt and wood, repelling ant armies, and wreaking havoc on hapless home and business owners.
Down With the queen!
The perpetual problem with termites is that unlike us, they can digest cellulose—and their favorite type of cellulose comes in a composite form known as wood. They burrow into our wood, slowly eating away at it.
Their stealthy behavior means that in many cases, they’ll have done serious damage to a home or building’s structural integrity before anyone realizes it. Termites are estimated to cause $5 billion dollars worth of damage a year in the U.S. alone—and most of it is not covered by insurance.
How to Stop Termites from Eating Your Home
There are few things more stressful to a homeowner than the thought of a termite infestation. The damage that can be done won’t just hurt your house; it will hurt your pocketbook as well. To help you prevent an infestation, let’s take a look at how to stop termites from entering your home:
#1. Identifying the problem
Before you get started on any treatment, you’re obviously going to have to figure out if you have termites in the first place. If you have a basement, that’s the place to start. Look for any telltale signs of where the wood has been chewed.
Also, check for any hollow spots in the wood. If you don’t have a basement, check for soft spots around your door frames and on the bottom of your home’s structure where it meets the foundation.
“Their stealthy behavior means that in many cases, they’ll have done serious damage to a home or building’s structural integrity before anyone realizes it.”
-Rest Easy Pest Control
#2. Don’t panic
There is no way to downplay the importance of stopping a termite infestation as soon as you discover the little buggers. However, there is no need to go into a full-on panic mode, at least not right away. Although termites can be extremely damaging to your home, they also eat very slowly.
According to some experts, it will typically take the average termite colony up to five years to eat only a pound of wood. As for removing the pests, there are a number of do-it-yourself kits available at your local pest control or hardware store, but their effectiveness has been called into question.
The speed at which your house is being devoured is sometimes difficult to calculate, as it depends on the type of termite, the size of the colony, weather conditions, and the kind of wood it is devouring. As a general rule, consider that a colony of 300,000 termites will eat only one cubic foot of wood each year. But this is only an estimate.
#3. Termite Baiting Systems
A number of termite baiting systems exist on the market that can be used to help rid your home of insects. Each baiting system includes a poison that is designed to attract a certain insect, whether your house has a problem with ants, cockroaches, or even termites.
The idea is that the insects will take the poison (disguised as food) back to the nest, where the poison will spread within the larger group. When dealing with termites, however, the question becomes: can a baiting system help stop a termite infestation?
Some homeowners might wonder if a termite baiting system would be effective in preventing an infestation. After all, termites eat wood, and a baiting system’s success relies on being able to provide a substance that mimics, at least in some sense, the food that the insect needs for sustenance.
It might not seem possible that a termite baiting system would be able to mimic wood. To get around this, baits will typically use actual paper, cardboard, or other similar substance, which is then combined with the poison.
How successful a baiting system can be at preventing a termite infestation is often reliant on the correct placement of the bait. The biggest challenge of using a baiting system is making sure that the termites are able to find it.
For example, you’ll need to decide if the system would work better if it was underground or above-ground. Other factors can include the time of year, the amount of moisture in the area, and the availability of food. To get the very best out of your termite baiting attempts, consulting a professional is often a good route to take.
“How successful a baiting system can be at preventing a termite infestation is often reliant on the correct placement of the bait. The biggest challenge of using a baiting system is making sure that the termites are able to find it.”
-Rest Easy Pest Control
#4. Call a professional
One of the most effective ways to kill termites involves toxic chemicals, so it is not advisable that you do the job yourself. Instead, let the experts handle the problem. They are well-trained in the art of locating the termite colony within your home and ascertaining its size. From there, they will draw up a strategy in order to get rid of the pests without putting anyone in your household in danger.
Depending on the size of the termite infestation, you could be looking at anywhere from 10,000 up to a million of the little wood-eaters. The overall size of the average colony almost guarantees the need for the assistance of an expert.
Once they have tested for termites and found a problem, these experts will work with you to decide the best course of action and will provide you with a step-by-step explanation of exactly how they plan to remove them from your home.***