How to Control Termites


Termites are among the most common, destructive enemies of the house. If you’ve spotted damage by these pests, or suspect their presence, you can inspect for them and deter their damage in just a few hours.

PREVENTING TERMITES

Termites are difficult to identify. The most common type, the subterranean, lives and works underground. They are visible only in the spring, during the mating season, when they grow wings and swarm in the air. The wingless worker termites, often confused with ants, are always whitish grey, and their body shapes differ from ants. They are wood eating. Winged reproductive termites have black or brown bodies somewhat like ants.

Control Termites

The presence of termites can be determined by watching for the dead remains of the winged insects in the spring, by sticking a pocketknife blade or awl into wood to see if it easily penetrates, and by searching for termite tunnels. Search the sides of basement walls and piers for earthen tubes which termites build as tunnels to reach wood members of the house. Termites, being light-sensitive, will not climb walls outside these tunnels.

Homes in termite-infested regions should be inspected twice a year. It’s easier to bar termites from a new house than to rid an old house of them. Here are some ways to construct against termites. First, to resist infestations use seasoned dry wood only, since termites require moisture. Remove all tree roots, stumps, pieces of lumber from excavated dirt, before backfilling around the foundation. If you find termites in any of this wood, treat the earth chemically.

Build foundations to resist termite penetration, remembering that they can enter through minute cracks. Place metal termite shields over the tops of all foundation walls, porch walls, piers, cellar posts, and other places where wood and masonry or steel are in contact. Use wood that has been pressure-impregnated with termite-resistant chemicals for all wood posts, girders, door jambs, and cellar window frames.

You can also prevent termites from making a home in your home by providing at least 18 inches of clear space between the bottom of a basementless house and the ground. Earth outside the house should be at least 6 inches below any lumber used. Always provide basement ventilation. Make sure your gutters and downspouts work properly to keep water from collecting under and around the house. Finally, wood door jambs and frames and cellar windows in outside walls must be built on top of concrete floors or walls and not embedded in them. Use pressure-impregnated wood. Wooden porch posts and bottom steps should also rest on top of solid concrete bases.

ELIMINATING TERMITES

In existing construction where termite infestation is bad, remove all dead wood from the surface of the soil. Excavate a 12-inch-wide trench, the depth of the footing, around the foundation. Pick the removed earth clean and treat it chemically before it is backfilled. Termite-killing chemicals are available through home and farm supply retailers and some janitorial supply houses.

Control Termites

Seal all cracks in the foundation walls and gaps around pipes penetrating the walls with a cement mortar. Apply a wood preservative to all wood in contact with basement walls and floors. Of course, when using any chemicals, make sure you read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions, and wear proper protection gear.

There are a variety of aerosol sprays available for eliminating termites. Some are sprayed directly onto the termite nests, if found, while others require that the pesticide be carried back to the nest for full action. Most are effective but, since they are a consumer item, are not as strong as those chemicals applied by professional pest controllers. Depending upon local termite levels, you may want to have a professional service spray your foundation twice a year, while you yourself apply a consumer product on a monthly basis.

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About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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