Educating Homeowners about Termite Infestation

Termite Pest Control Frequently asked Questions

In general, the average homeowner knows very little when it comes to termites, termite infestation, and the importance of proper treatments and inspections.  Below, are some answers to questions commonly asked about termites and termite control measures. 

1.       Do I have termites or ants?         

At the same time that termites begin swarming, so are several species of ants.  Here are some differences to look for:

*        Termites have a broad body, their front and rear wings are almost equal inlength and they have a straight antenna.

*        Ants have a thinner body, they have much larger front wings and their antennae bends almost at an angle. 

2.        Is there a certain time of year when most termite problems are discovered?           

Termites typically begin to emerge in large numbers inside homes (“swarmers”) in the early spring when the temperature starts to warm up. During the rest of the year, termites can be detected by constantly keeping a look out for signs of mud tubes and tiny holes in the ceiling and walls. 

3.                 How will I know if my house is infested with termites? 

*        Swarming of winged termites inside the home is a clear indication of infestation requiring treatment.  Piles of broken wings my also be found around doorways and windowsills, usually near areas of light.

*        Mud tubes on slabs, foundations, support piers, headers, sill plates and subfloors are another sure sign of termite presence.

*        Tiny holes appearing in ceilings or walls should also be examined carefully. 

4.                 Can I apply my own treatment? 

In order for termiticides to be effective, proper application and knowledge of the correct amount of solution to be applied is essential. In addition, termite entry points are often hidden and very difficult to access, therefore, also requiring special equipment.  There are do-it-yourself baiting systems available but again proper application and adherence to the label instructions are essential for successful control. 

5.                 How do I know if my home is being treated properly?

The goal of a treatment plan is to create a continuous barrier of protection around the structure of your home, preventing termites from entering. Treatments may include drilling holes into the foundation and slab of your home and also soil trenching.  An inspection should include a diagram of your home. Knowing the number of gallons of termiticide solution the PCO applied is an essential factor in knowing if your home was treated properly (4 gallons per 10 linear feet). Treatments using less gallons than needed are less likely to provide a continuous barrier of protection.  To achieve adequate dispersion of the termiticide solution in foundations, slabs etc…the holes drilled should be spaced approximately 12’’ apart.  An effective treatment plan should take several hours to complete. 

6.                 How long will the treatment last?

Registered termiticide products are designed to last for at least five years if they are applied properly and in accordance with the label directions. These new chemicals only “repel” the termites. Many variables such as the manner and rate at which the termiticde solution was applied and activities that disturb the soil may affect the rate of treatment breakdown. Houses built before 1988 were most likely treated with a termite poison called chlordane, which has since been banned, and was effective for at least 35 years.  Chlordane “kills” termites and the most effective treatment used today to “kill” termites is Termidor. 

7.                 What if I continue to see termites after my home has been treated? 

*        Document everything!  Use videotapes, take pictures and keep accurate records.

*        Have your pest control company present when you open the walls so they can see live termites.  They will not pay for repairs unless they see LIVE termites!

*        Have the pest control company check for moisture in the walls using a moisture meter.

*        Never agree to a costly treatment without evidence of live termites and completely understanding the extent of your problem.  Do your homework; there are many treatment options available.  

8.                 What do all these “treatments” mean? 

*        Pre-Treatment means that the original treatment was done before the construction of the home.  Pre-treatments are a good thing!

*        Re-Treatment means that there is or has been a termite infestation before.  Re-treatments are not a good thing! 

9.                 What do the provisions in my contract mean? 

Understand your contract, your obligations and any provisions before signing! 

*        Re-Treatment Only means that the pest control company will provide additional treatment if termites are discovered after the initial treatment and during the period of the contract.

*        Re-Treatment and Repair means that the pest control company will repair, replace or correct any damage if it occurs after the initial treatment and during the contract period.  If your contract includes a guarantee, make sure you take the time to completely understand your obligations!

*        No Guarantee/Warranty may be offered after an initial inspection because of existing conditions.  This should be clearly indicated in your contract.

Other Questions:

Florida Department of Agriculture

University of Kentucky Entomology

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