Termites are an unwanted best that eat wood. They can eat furniture, trees, and worst of all, houses! If termites break down the wood holding your house up, the entire thing could collapse. This is the most dangerous thing about termites.
Types Of Termites
There are three main categories of termites, and all 45 species of termites in the United States fit within these categories.
Subterranean termites, or Rhinotermitidae, are termites that live under the surface. They build the largest nests of any insect in the U.S. The nests are connected underground through mud tubes. The tubes let them travel easily to different food sources.
These termites can live in every state except Alaska. So there’s a good chance that you can get subterranean termites in your home or yard if you have soil, as they thrive in soil where they build their nests.
Drywood Termites or Kalotermitidae prefer to live in deadwood. They don’t need soil to live like subterranean termites, so they are quite heartier. Luckily, dry wood termites have smaller colonies and nests.
They are only found in the southern, both western and eastern, states. So if you live up north, you probably won’t see many of them. They thrive in dry, warm climates and can survive in cold temperatures.
Dampwood termites or Hodotermitidae live in moist wood. They are rarer than other termites because they don’t live in homes very often. This is because they need wet wood to live well and most homes won’t have wet wood.
Keep your home dry to prevent this type of termite from entering your home. Which is a good idea anyway considering that moist wood can rot easily and rotting wood can break down, leaving you with an unstable foundation.
Signs Of Termites
Look out for the signs of termites in order to catch them as soon as possible.
- Bubbles In Wood – one of the most obvious signs of termites is bubbles or blisters in wood. The termites can eat underneath, causing the wood and the finish to pop up. Dampwood termites are also drawn to moisture, which bubbles imply is present.
- Discolored Drywall – discolored drywall is an unusual sign that termites are hiding in your walls. Termites can make tiny holes in drywall studs that can affect the texture and color of the drywall, so watch for damage.
- Mud Tubes – mud tubes are how subterranean termites travel. If you notice tiny pencil-thin tubes in your dirt, you might have termites. You can poke holes in suspicious areas to find tubes that are slightly packed.
- Termite Droppings – termite droppings don’t look like other insect droppings. Because they eat only wood, their droppings are also made of wood. Piles will look like sawdust or perhaps coffee grounds.
- Squeaky Floor – a squeaky floor is another obvious sign of termites. When termites break down your foundation, your floors will shift and become squeaky. This is a dangerous sign so if you notice it, call a professional right away.
- Damaged Wood – damaged wood can definitely mean termites. Look for patterns in wood, chips out of wood, and other marks. Termites do nothing but damage wood, but that can mean trouble for any home.
How To Get Rid Of Under The Surface Termites
Subterranean termites are the most annoying termites. Not only do they have the biggest nests but they also are the most common type of termite. They live under the surface and are hard to spot before it’s too late.
- Pesticide Barriers – pesticide barriers aren’t easy to find in some states. Termite barriers use chemicals to stop termites before they start. You pour it around the perimeter of your house or under your foundation.
- Spray Them Directly – if you can find the termites, you can spray them with termiticide. This isn’t easy with subterranean termites but you can crawl under most houses and spray the areas you suspect them.
- Wood Treatment – wood treatment involves spraying your wood with something that can kill termites. If the termites are under your house, you’ll probably need to spray your foundation. If they are just beginning, you can spray around the skirting.
- Bait The Termites – baiting termites is easy. Buy termite bait and place them around the outside of your home. Once they are drawn out and trapped, you can start preventing termites instead of getting rid of them.
How To Get Rid Of Drywood Termites
While subterranean termites are hard to predict, drywall termites are pretty typical. So getting rid of them is easier than the subterranean termites that tend to run deep and far.
- Drill And Fill – this is a common way to get rid of dry wood termites. All you have to do is either find the holes they make it wood or drill your own in a structurally safe way. Then, you can fill the holes with termiticide or sealant.
- Spray The Wood – another great way to get rid of drywall termites is to spray the wood. This works better than with subterranean termites because drywall termites don’t just eat the wood, they live in it too.
How To Get Rid Of Dampwood Termites
This is much simpler than getting other termites. Dampwood termites will be gone as soon as the wood is too dry for them to survive. So keep the wood dry to prevent them. If they are already present, then try these methods.
- Dry The Wood – using a blowdryer, dry the wood where the termites live. Use a cool setting to also dry the termites out. Make sure you keep the wood dry and check it every day for a couple of weeks after getting rid of the termites.
- Baking Soda – baking soda can both dry dampwood termites out. If they dry out, they will not be able to live any longer. This method works well with many bugs with exoskeletons, including ants.
How To Get Rid Of Termites With Household Products
If you don’t want to go through too much trouble and prefer a more natural approach, then there are options for you. Here are ways to get rid of almost any type of termite without a problem.
- Boric Acid – yes, boric acid can kill any type of termite, you just need to know where they will walk. If they walk on the boric acid, then they dry up slowly and collapse. Since termites are small, you don’t usually need to clean them up.
- Diatomaceous earth – this is a stronger method that works the same as boric acid. Buy some at the store or online and keep it on hand so you have it for when another infestation appears. It can work very fast.
- Essential oils – termites hate essential oils. Especially cinnamon. So if you can spray essential oil on the wood they live in or eat from, it can work wonders. This is great because essential oils smell amazing.
How To Prevent Termites
Using chemicals to prevent termites is effective, but costly and dangerous long term. You don’t want to use chemicals around children and pets any more than you have to. Luckily, there are other measures you can take.
- Fill Cracks – the first thing you can do to prevent termites is fill any cracks in exposed wood. This will make it harder for them to build nests as they won’t have any starting point. It will also suffocate any homes already built.
- Finish Wood – if the wood is sealed and varnished, it will be more difficult for nests to be built. Varnish isn’t as easy to penetrate as unfinished wood, especially a thick one. Finish all wood that is susceptible to termites.
- Check For Leaks – moisture can attract both subterranean termites and dampwood termites. In fact, neither can survive without it. So make sure there are no leaks anywhere, checking regularly for them.
- Clean Pipes – keeping pipes clean can prevent buildup that attracts termites. It can also stop the pipes from leaking. So clean your pipes once every few months with a snake and Drano, or another pipe cleaner.
- Schedule Inspections – if you have a monthly or every other month visit, then you can stop infestations before they start. So have someone visit you to check for termites on a regular basis.
When And Where To Hire A Professional
It can take just one day for a mature group of termites to completely eat a 2×4 that’s one foot long. However, if you catch them when they are developing, you won’t have to worry about speeds like that.
It will take years for a colony to develop that far. But that doesn’t mean you should keep trying to get rid of them futilely without asking for help. If you go a week without seeing improvement or if things start to get worse, call for help immediately.
Region: 47 states and 22 countries
Price: $50 to $100 a month
Terminix is a widely-respected pest control business. They can get rid of any type of pest or bug in just one visit. But they recommended being set up on a monthly program where they come every month to spray for termites.
According to their site, Terminix.com even offers a free inspection to let you know what to expect. This likely includes a simple inspection of the damage and a quote for how much it costs to remove the termites.
Price: $80 to $200 a month
Orkin is another trusted business that can take care of termites. They can be trusted to eradicate bugs in your home. They aren’t as popular as Terminix but if there isn’t a Terminix nearby, Orkin is a safe bet.
Region: Select States
Price: $50 to $100 a month
Aptive is a lot like Terminix only they are as eco-friendly as possible. They choose natural ways to eradicate termites rather than use chemicals. It isn’t known whether they are as effective, but they do a good job of staying green.
Local Pest Control
If all else fails, call a local bug control business. You can talk to them on the phone for quotes and few reviews online. If they have good reviews, chances are, they are trustworthy business ready to give you a better life.