Termites are endlessly destructive and are responsible for over $1 billion in damage every year in the United States alone. Even the average homeowner can contribute to that amount when termites get inside their homes and start damaging the wood that makes up the structure of the building.
Termite control is a must to keep your home in great shape. Knowing the best ways to get rid of termites is part of the process. However, you also need to know what types of termites exist to determine which species you are dealing with.
How To Identify Termites
Flying ants look quite similar to termites, so sometimes, one is mistaken for the other. Before you treat the pest problem, you need to be sure which insect you are dealing with. Ants have a body with a constricted abdomen and a clearly defined thorax. They also have two sets of wings, with the front pair larger than the back pair. The antennae of the ants have an elbow shape with an elongated first section.
On the other hand, termites will have a ribbed abdomen that is one thick piece with no visible waist. Their wings also come in two pairs but are longer than their body and have visible veins. Rather than having curved antennae, termites’ antennae are straight and short.
Distinguishing the Types of Termites
While there are about 45 species of termites in the United States, each of them falls into one of three types. There are damp wood termites, dry wood termites, and subterranean termites. Each has unique behavior and biology that determines where they build nests, what part of the country they live in, and how likely they are to damage a home.
A subterranean termite lives on the earth and will build the largest nests of any insects in the country. Their nests are connected using mud tubes and food sources, like fence posts, trees, and structural timbers in homes.
The subterranean termite can live in any state other than Alaska. These termites are responsible for nearly all of the damage in the U.S.
Drywood termites often live in wood, such as hardwood floors, dead trees, or structural timbers. Unlike the subterranean termites, these insects do not need to be near the soil. Some of the dry wood species out there can cause serious damage to homes. However, their colonies tend to be smaller than subterranean termites, so the damage occurs more slowly than with subterraneans.
Drywood termites can be found in many states, including Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas.
Dampwood termites also live in wood, but only wood with a large amount of moisture. In most cases, they do not need contact with soil. The damp wood termites are not often found in man-made structures like homes since the wood doesn’t contain a large amount of moisture. These are the least damaging for human dwellings and other buildings.
Dampwood termites can be found in Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.
The Best Methods for Removing Termites
Before you start getting rid of the termites at your home, it’s a good idea to know what attracts them there in the first place. This can give you the knowledge you need to keep the termites from coming back after being removed the first time. Termites are attracted to three primary things:
- Wood – Depending on the type of termite, they could be attracted to moist wood or dry wood. Termites consume wood, so this will be the main thing that draws them to an environment.
- Moist Soil – Many termites thrive in moist soil, which helps them prevent becoming dehydrated and perishing. In addition, some species will use the ground to create mud tubes.
- Warm, Dark Environments – Termites want to be left alone, so they look for dark and isolated spots to make their homes. Cleaning out your pipes and gutters is an excellent way to keep termites from multiplying at your home.
Termite Treatment Options
The best option for the removal of termites is bringing in a pest professional. They know the best methods of killing termites, how to treat the issue and options for preventing termites from coming back.
One method of getting rid of termites comprises treating the dirt near your home with an insecticide, like fipronil or imidacloprid. The wood can also be directly treated if termites have made it inside.
Termite baits are another option that is placed in the yard to lure in termites. After they enter, an insect growth regulator or insecticide will cover them. When they go back to the colony, they will poison the other termites.
A few tips you should consider if you decide to treat the termites on your own include:
- After you treat the soil outside your home, make sure that it stays undisturbed to work correctly.
- A foam product can be used in specific areas that liquid pesticides cannot reach.
- Fumigation can kill all of the termites in a certain location but will not stop them from returning.
- A dusting agent can be used in situations where liquid or foam products aren’t a practical option.
How To Prevent Termite Infestations
Handling termites after they infiltrate your home can be challenging, even if you bring in a professional. The better option is to prevent them in the first place. Since termites require moisture to thrive, getting rid of any damp areas in your home is essential.
- Look for leaky air conditioners, plumbing leaks, and improper grading to ensure the ground by your home is dry.
- Cover openings like vents on the outside of your home with steel mesh that is termite-resistant. This lets you keep the ventilation while keeping out pests.
- Eliminate wood-to-ground contact as much as you possibly can.
- Have your home inspected regularly.
- When possible, replace the soil near your home with sand where wood touches the ground as termites can’t tunnel through it.
- In areas where wood touches the ground, use termite-resistant wood. Pretreat the wood when building a new home or making renovations to an existing home.
- Do not stack firewood next to your house and remove any tree stumps in your yard.
- Create six or more inches of space between wooden patios, porches, decks, and the ground.
Termites can be a lot of trouble, but you have options. If you don’t yet have termites, use the prevention methods above to keep it that way. Those who are battling an infestation of these pests should get in touch with a professional who can get rid of the termites and make sure they do not return.
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