Termites have been labeled as most notorious in terms of causing structural damage. Also, they never sleep. The workers of the termite colony consume cellulose found in a plant’s cell walls and on wood (i.e. wooden furniture, wooden floors, and wooden walls) for 24 hours without stopping. For this reason, people in the US spend approximately 5 billion dollars for annual damages caused by a termite infestation.
What is frustrating is that termite detection usually comes late. Only when the structural damage becomes visible and immense that we get to realize we have termites in our property. According to This Old House (2022), it pays to be vigilant and take action immediately when it comes to a termite infestation. Termites reproduce so fast and multiply their population to as many as millions. It is therefore no wonder that a building can collapse in no time due to the presence of termites.
Signs You Have Termites
When it comes to these infamous pests, one has to be alert and must not wait for a major disaster to occur before doing something to resolve the problem. Homeowners and building proprietors can actually do a lot to prevent termites from causing more havoc and destruction, but first, we need to be aware of the following signs of a termite infestation:
- It is typical of termites to burrow into wooden structures, thus creating visible tube-like tunnels made out of mud, saliva, and dirt. These mud tubes usually appear on the external walls of the house and stretch to and fro the termites’ food source
Weird tapping sounds
- Termites make tapping noises that can be heard from ceilings, walls, under the floorboards, lofts, and basement . These sounds are meant to signal the other termites for potential threat. What is interesting is that termites bang their heads on the walls of their mud tunnels just to create these tapping sounds.
- Termite damage and water damage appear the same. Bumpy or bubbling paint occurs when there is moisture build-up and this may be caused by water or termites.
- Termites feed on cellulose and so they get attracted to wood and dead trees. To check for wood damage, you may tap on the wooden structure and see if the wood sounds hollow. Also, termites may disfigure or warp the wooden parts of your house. Therefore, if you notice buckling of wood or swelling of your floors and ceilings, termites could be the culprit (besides water damage, of course).
- Droppings of drywood termites, in particular, look like mounds of wood-colored pellets.
- Swarmers, also called reproductives or young winged termites, are the ones that reproduce or multiple the termite population. After the mating season, swarmers would discard their wings and/or dead bodies. Usually, you can find these discarded corpses and wings on window sills and doors.
How to Control Termites
Once termites have settled a colony inside your home, their intent is to devour all the wooden elements therein for as long as they can. In fact, Harris (2022) pointed out that termite reproducers (swarmers) can live for up to 25 years. That is why it is ideal to call in a termite removal expert to deal with a termite infestation. At the same time, you also need to observe preventive measures and apply DIY methods to make your home unattractive to termites and to somehow reduce the extent of the structural damage. Consider the following tips:
- Termiticides are anti-termite products that effectively kill termites. However, the United States Environmental Protection Agency strongly suggests that applying chemical treatment like termiticides has to be performed by a trained pest control professional. The interesting thing is that termiticides cannot be detected by termites. To get rid of subterranean termites, you can apply the pesticides to the woodworks of your home. For treating drywood termites, you can drill holes on the termite-infested wood and then fill the holes with termiticide. Termites who have consumed this product die ultimately after unknowingly spreading the pesticide’s content and infecting other termites in the colony.
Install Termite baits.
- Another effective way to handle termites is to insert consumer baits around the ground of the house’s foundation. Toxins included in termite baits are designed to stop termite growth. Additionally, because they kill termites gradually, any termites with toxins on them would unintentionally spread the poison to the other termites. Depending on the extent of infestation, it will take several days to 2 weeks to completely eliminate the termite colony.
Use diatomaceous earth.
- A powdery substance called diatomaceous earth has small shards that can puncture and dehydrate termites’ exoskeletons. The material can be sprayed over termite-infested areas.
Spray essential oils.
- Neem oil and orange oil are examples of essential oils that can kill drywood termites. The technique is to mix several drops of the essential oil with two cups of water and with dish soap and then spray the mixture on the termite-infested areas.
Set up a cardboard trap.
- Subterranean and drywood termites can be captured and eliminated using a DIY trap. Two cardboard pieces are dampened in the process, and then the wet parts are put together. Termites will crawl between the two cardboard pieces because they are drawn to the cellulose, which will cause them to become imprisoned. You can burn the cardboards once the termites have been collected. However, not every termite can be trapped at once so this method is not always effective.
Get beneficial nematodes to work their magic.
- Microscopic worms called beneficial nematodes act as natural parasites on pests like termites. By penetrating their host’s body and releasing deadly germs at the same time, these creatures can kill termites.
Call the Professionals
Termites put the structural integrity of our home at risk. As per a professional in ants pest control in Loganville, PA, “It’s crucial that we employ termite treatment strategies as soon as we become aware of an infestation.” In order to solve the termite problem and prevent additional damage to our property, we must always remember to call a pest management professional.