“You have a termite problem." Those are words no homeowner wants to hear. And if a termite infestation goes undetected, then it can cause homeowners more than just headaches. The average cost of termite treatments and damage repairs is more than $9,000*.
Termites are a persistent threat. And though they can be found throughout the United States, the highest pressure areas tend to be in the South, Southeast, West and Southwest where they thrive in warm climates. If your home is at risk (and it probably is), continue reading to find out how you can help get rid of termites. And learn what to do to help ensure these pests don't infest your property.
Signs of Termites
Unfortunately, termite infestations can be active for a long period of time before you see any evidence. Still, knowing what to look out for can help prevent further and more costly damage to your home. Keep an eye out in your home for these signs of termites listed below. And if you notice any of these signs, you should have a professional inspect your home right away.
Mud tubes are a sign of subterranean termites, which live underground. These tubes are “termite highways" that connect colonies to food sources, allowing workers to travel, search for food and bring it back to the colony. They often appear where your home's foundation meets the ground. And they can also be spotted inside your home, including in your walls, on your baseboards, drywall, bookcases, ceiling and molding around door and window frames.
Blistered wood is another sign of subterranean termites. The wood appears like it has water damage, but it is often a result of termite activity beneath the surface of the wood in your home.
Drywood termites produce droppings that look like small, hexagonal-shaped pellets about the size of coffee grounds. These termite droppings are actually called “frass." Piles of these droppings under furniture, near baseboards, or around other wooden structures may indicate drywood termite activity.
As termites tunnel through wood, they create long galleries inside the wood that weaken its structure and cause damage. Wood that termites damaged will often produce a hollow sound when tapped and look similar to a honeycomb inside. This damage can happen behind walls and under floors, among other places in your home.
Termites searching to mate will conduct mating flights. During these flights, which are referred to as “swarms," these termites leave their main colony to mate and establish a new colony somewhere else. Once they find a suitable location, they shed their wings, since they won't need to fly again. Piles of these discarded wings are a sign that termites are likely present.
Related > Why are There Termite Swarmers?
Even if you don't notice the signs of termites mentioned above, that doesn't necessarily mean they aren't there. Termites can be active in your home for a long time before they're noticed, causing damage to your home and its structure along the way. That's why it's smart to talk to your Terminix® termite control expert about termite protection against any future termite activity and damage.
How to Get Rid of Subterranean Termites
As their name suggests, subterranean termites live below ground in colonies. They need soil contact to survive and use tunnels below ground — and mud tubes above ground — to travel into homes in search of food. Their food is the wood that forms your home's structure.
However, there are some species of subterranean termites, like Formosan termites, that can swarm and land in the upper part of your house where they'll establish colonies without soil contact. This tends to happen in the Gulf Coast area.
Because these termites most often stay hidden, their attack on your home can go undetected for a while. Your best defense is a good offense. There are some things you can do yourself to help prevent termites from infesting your home:
- Keep mulch at least four inches from your home's foundation
- Make sure your home's siding doesn't extend down to the soil
- Store firewood away from your home
- Watch out for any leaks and moisture in and around your home, and have them addressed immediately
- By following the list above, you will help keep things that attract termites to your home at a minimum.
A well-developed subterranean termite colony can wreak havoc on a home. And the longer a termite infestation goes undetected, the larger it can grow and more damage it can cause. The largest subterranean termite colonies can eat about a pound of wood per day. Imagine the kind of damage that can cause in a year.
How to Get Rid of Drywood Termites
Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites do not need soil contact to survive. They live in wood that's above ground, including inside homes. Drywood termites are most common in Florida and California, but they can be found in other states when infested items are brought into homes.
If you spot signs of drywood termites, such as droppings (frass), then you need to act immediately.
Treating a drywood termite infestation can be tricky. There may be more than one infestation site, and these sites can be difficult to find unless you're trained in how to do so. For these reasons, and more, it's necessary to call a termite control professional for a drywood termite inspection and treatment.
What is the Fastest Way to Get Rid of Termites?
If you think you have a termite problem, or you notice one or more of the signs mentioned above, you probably need professional termite help. A DIY solution may seem like the fast and affordable way, but it's likely not.
Related > Don't DIY That: Termite Control
DIY termite treatments aren't effective. Different species of termites respond to different types of treatments. And proper identification is critical to effective and fast removal. Additionally, many DIY products such as termite sprays are only surface treatments. They may remove visible termites, but they don't destroy the colony, so your problem won't actually go away.
Another DIY consideration is cost. If the proper treatment method isn't used, or if the treatment is ineffective, you may wind up spending more money and causing yourself additional frustration. When you consider the cost of termite treatment versus the cost of damage, your savings can disappear very quickly.
Take the effective route to get rid of your termites and schedule a FREE inspection with Terminix.
*Average repairs: $8,566 according to 2018 survey of independent contractors in the Terminix network. Estimated treatment: $1,419. Every home is different; repair and treatment costs may vary.