Termites are insects that form large colonies underground, complete with tunnel systems that can stretch 150 feet. These white or transparent bugs feed on various woods, and because they eat through structures, they can cause massive damage. Flying termites have wings, though they lose them shortly after mating. Some swarm at night and are attracted to light, while others come out in daylight hours.
Termites often go unnoticed until the infestation is out of control. Telltale signs to watch for include wood damage and powdered wood shavings called frass. In the springtime, you might see swarms of females that resemble flying ants. You can also check for mud tubes in attics, crawl spaces, and near foundations.
Two kinds of termites can infest your home: drywood and subterranean. Drywood termites live in warm, coastal areas, but the subterranean type can live anywhere. The latter takes up residence in the soil around the home or the wood, while the former prefer wood with soil. Subterranean termites cause the most damage of the two and may require different treatments.
Surrounding your home with liquid pesticide kills termites and keeps more from entering. The poison acts quickly, terminating on contact. For best results, surround your whole foundation with poison. However, you can also apply the product around specific wooden structures, tree stumps, and woodpiles. This treatment is not suitable for use indoors, and always read the instructions and cautions carefully. Not all pesticides are suitable for homes with pets and children.
If you don't feel comfortable surrounding your home with pesticides, poisoned bait is an excellent alternative. With this method, you won't need to spray anything. Instead, spread some bait in a few areas. Hungry termites will carry some back to their colony, distributing the poison throughout their numbers and hopefully taking out the whole colony.
For your home's interior, use a chemical treatment. This method works best on areas where you've seen termites indoors, like wall crevices, rafters, or the attic. Dry foam works well with this kind of pest because they're rarely exposed. With a foam nozzle, you can direct the product right into hard-to-reach places.
This method works best using two wet cardboard pieces. Stack them together, and put them where you suspect termites. Termites eat cardboard, so wait until many of them have begun to attack the trap, then take it outside and safely dispose of it or burn it. Keep in mind, this method won't eradicate the infestation, but it can help reduce numbers.
Nematodes are a small species of worm that are natural parasites to termites and other garden pests. They search for hosts, like termite larva. Once they invade, the host dies within 48 hours. You can find nematodes at most lawn and garden stores. For best results, place them in your soil in the early morning or after sunset, as they're susceptible to UV light.
When termites infest an item or piece of furniture, place it in direct sunlight. Because termites live in darkness, the sun's heat and UV light will kill them. Choose an area that gets a lot of light throughout the day, and leave the item there for three days. You can combine this method with the cardboard trap to kill any termites that try to escape.
Boric acid is an effective way to get rid of termites. It's one of the main ingredients in many store-bought insecticides and works by shutting down the insect's nervous system while also dehydrating it. The most effective way to use boric acid is to set up bait stations with the powder. The insects will carry it back to their colony.
Because heat effectively kills termites, heating an infested home will eliminate the bugs. This method requires a professional, however, because it calls for specialty, commercial equipment. Call a pest control company to see if this is a treatment option for your home. Often, companies will send a technician for a free or low-cost estimate.