How to Get Rid of Termites Permanently

by | Mar 8, 2024

Termites are often called silent destroyers because they cause extensive damage to homes and structures that can go unnoticed until it’s too late. These pests are not just a nuisance, they’re responsible for an estimated $11 billion dollars in structural damage in the US annually [1]. This makes their eradication a priority for homeowners. While termites play a crucial role in natural ecosystems by decomposing dead wood and recycling nutrients, their appetite for wood turns problematic when they invade homes and buildings that humans inhabit. Identifying and addressing a termite infestation promptly is critical to prevent severe structural damage.

Due to how difficult it is to effectively treat termites; professional intervention is recommended. While homeowners may be tempted to tackle minor infestations on their own, the expertise and specialized tools of a professional pest control service are invaluable in diagnosing the full extent of the infestation and applying comprehensive treatment solutions. From traditional tenting methods that fumigate the entire home to more targeted approaches that address the specific types of termites and their locations, professional services offer a range of options to eliminate these pests.

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What Are Termites

Termites are small, social insects that thrive in colonies and primarily feed on cellulose which is a component of wood and plant matter. This diet leads them to consume a variety of materials including lumber, wood chips, mulch, decaying logs, leaf litter, and even cardboard. This behavior makes them a serious threat to man-made structures made from wood. With several types of termites existing, each with its own characteristics and habitat preferences, understanding the differences among them is essential for homeowners to implement effective control measures.

How to Get Rid of Termites Effectively

Effectively eliminating termites from your home generally requires professional intervention, especially for widespread or deeply entrenched infestations. Professional pest control services are equipped with the knowledge, experience, and tools necessary to accurately identify the termite species, assess the extent of the infestation, and apply the most effective treatments to eradicate termites and prevent future infestations. Termite control experts utilize a range of methods, including termiticide barriers, bait systems, and direct chemical treatments that are tailored to the specific type of termite and the layout of your property.

DIY vs Professional Termite Control

Choosing between DIY and professional termite control often comes down to the scale of the infestation, the type of termites involved, and the homeowner’s confidence in their ability to effectively treat the problem. DIY termite treatment can be a cost-effective and immediate first step for early-stage infestations, especially for homeowners who manage to catch the problem early. These at-home treatments can include over the counter termiticides, bait systems, and natural remedies which may provide a temporary solution or help in preventing future infestations.

However, termite infestations can escalate rapidly and cause significant and sometimes irreversible damage to the structure of a home. Larger colonies or more established infestations often require more comprehensive approaches like professional fumigation, advanced bait systems, and extensive soil treatment methods that are beyond the scope of most DIY capabilities. Professional exterminators bring expertise, specialized equipment, and access to more potent treatments that can effectively identify signs of termites and address the full extent of an infestation. In many cases, investing in professional termite control services can save homeowners time, money, and the stress of further damage in the long run while ensuring the complete eradication of termites in their homes.

professional getting rid of termites using spot treatment

Opting for professional termite services is often the most reliable and effective way to address termite infestations. This is even more critical when dealing with extensive damage or large colonies. Termite control experts can then recommend the most appropriate treatment plan that is customized to your home’s specific situation and the type of termites present.

Professional technicians utilize advanced techniques and commercial-grade products that are far more potent and effective than those available for DIY methods. Their strategies often involve a multi-pronged approach that may include the creation of termiticide barriers, application of direct chemicals, and installation of termite baits among others to ensure the complete eradication of the termite population. Reputable pest control services also offer follow-up inspections and treatments if problems persist to provide homeowners with peace of mind.

How to Choose a Termite Control Service Provider?

Selecting the right termite control service provider is crucial to effectively managing and eliminating a termite infestation in your home. Here are several key factors to consider to ensure you choose a reputable and effective pest control service:

  • Reputation: Research the company’s reputation on review platforms such as Google Reviews or Yelp. It’s essential to look up reviews for your local office specifically, as the quality of service can differ between locations.
  • Training and Licensing: Ensure that services are  provided by licensed technicians. High-quality providers, like Absolute Pest Management mandate extensive training for their technicians, including specific termite prevention techniques such as drilling, liquid, and foam application.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment Plans: Understand how the company diagnoses termite issues and their approach to treatment. Some companies might offer comprehensive ongoing protection plans, while others might provide more flexible á la carte options. Consider providers that include annual inspections in their packages to mitigate the risk of future infestations.
  • Guarantees: Check if the company offers a guarantee on their services, ensuring that treatments remain effective for a certain period and offering re-treatment if termites return. This can provide peace of mind and protection for your investment.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also advises homeowners to steer clear of pest control companies that engage in aggressive door-to-door sales tactics, pressure you into signing contracts immediately, or claim their products are made with secret, proprietary ingredients [2]. Taking the time to evaluate these factors carefully will help you select a termite control service provider that is trustworthy, competent, and suited to your specific needs.

How Pest Control Companies Get Rid of Termites

Professional termite treatment is often designed to target large scale infestations that are beyond the abilities of homeowners. It is important to note that professional treatment strategies still have drawbacks which means that using multiple treatment strategies together enhances the efficacy of a termite treatment plan.

Termiticide Barriers

using termiticide barriers to get rid of termites

Termiticide barriers constitute a primary method employed by pest control companies to eliminate termites. These barriers involve the application of liquid termiticides around the exterior perimeter of a home or directly onto wood structures. This creates an invisible chemical barrier that termites cannot cross without poisoning themselves. As termites pass over this barrier, they come into contact with the termiticide and then spread it to other members of the colony [3]. This leads to widespread extermination and colony collapse.

However, there are notable drawbacks to consider. The application of termiticide barriers can be invasive and often requires significant quantities of the termiticide, along with drilling and injection through structures like porches and patios to ensure comprehensive coverage. The effectiveness of this strategy depends on the thoroughness of the application and the longevity of the chemical in the environment which can be influenced by soil conditions and rainfall.

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Direct Chemicals

Direct chemical treatments offer a targeted approach to termite eradication that allows for the application of insecticides directly to the areas within a home where termites are active. This method is particularly useful for treating localized infestations, especially within painted or finished wood surfaces. Foaming insecticides are injected into cracks, voids, and crevices so that it expands to fill the space and leaves behind a residue that kills termites on contact. These treatments can be effective for up to a month and often provide immediate relief from small scale termite activity.

One of the primary advantages of direct chemicals is their precision and the ability to quickly address visible infestations without treating the entire structure. This method is also less disruptive compared to more extensive treatments like fumigation. However, the effectiveness of direct chemicals largely depends on accurately identifying and reaching the termite colony. If any termites or their nests are missed during treatment, the remaining termites can continue to breed and cause damage. Additionally, drilling into wood to inject termiticides requires care to avoid structural damage and might not be suitable for all types of wood or finishes.

Termite Baits

using termite baits to get rid of termites

Termite baits represent a strategic and less invasive approach to termite control that functions by attracting termites to a slow-acting poison that they then carry back to the colony. These poisons then get fed to the queen and the rest of the colony effectively killing off the colony. This method hinges on the installation of bait stations that use a termiticide that disrupts the termites’ natural growth processes and kills them during their molting phase [4]. They are placed around the perimeter of a home’s foundation where they are most likely going to be consumed. The delayed action of the toxin is crucial, as it allows time for the termites to return to their colony and share the poisoned bait with the rest of the colony which results in a more comprehensive eradication of the infestation.

The primary advantage of termite baits is their safety and specificity. They are not harmful to humans or pets and target termites specifically which minimizes the environmental impact they have. Baits also offer a solution that is less disruptive to the property than traditional liquid barrier treatments. However, the effectiveness of bait systems can be contingent on termites locating and consuming the bait which might take several months. Additionally, termite baiting often requires ongoing monitoring and maintenance to ensure the baits remain effective. This can necessitate more frequent visits from pest control services compared to some other treatment methods.

Termiticide Soil Drenching

Termiticide soil applications involve injecting pesticides directly into the soil to target subterranean termites in their natural habitat. This method is particularly effective for creating a protective barrier around a property that prevents termites from accessing the structure from the ground. By using a specialized wand or nozzle, pest control professionals can drench the soil with either liquid or foam pesticides that kill termites that come into contact with the treated soil [5].

One of the key advantages of termiticide soil applications is the ability to target subterranean termites at their source. However, this method requires expertise to ensure thorough coverage and minimize environmental impact. Additionally, the effectiveness of soil applications can be influenced by soil type, moisture levels, and the presence of obstacles that may hinder the distribution of the pesticide.

Beneficial Nematodes

Beneficial nematodes offer an environmentally friendly and natural method for controlling subterranean termite populations. These microscopic, segmented roundworms act as natural parasites that seek out termite hosts to burrow into. Once inside, they release a symbiotic gut bacterium that fatally poisons the termite’s blood which leads to death within days [6]. Beneficial nematodes can be easily obtained online or at garden stores and applied to infested areas by mixing with potting soil and cold water.

The primary advantage of using beneficial nematodes lies in their environmentally safe and natural approach to termite control. This method poses no risk to humans, pets, or non-target species. They can significantly reduce termite populations without the use of harsh chemicals. However, their effectiveness is temperature dependent. They require soil temperatures above 60°F (16°C) to be active. Additionally, nematodes must be used shortly after purchase or stored carefully (in a refrigerator) to maintain their viability. Application timing is crucial—early morning or after sunset is ideal to protect them from UV light damage. While beneficial nematodes are a promising solution for termite control, their success may vary based on environmental conditions and the extent of the infestation, making them a component of an integrated pest management strategy rather than a standalone solution.

Heat Treatment

Heat treatment is a non-chemical, environmentally friendly method used by pest control companies to eradicate termites. Unlike other strategies that target subterranean termites, this method of treatment is particularly effective against drywood termites. This process involves raising the temperature of the infested area to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of 33 minutes [7] which is a temperature at which termites cannot survive. This treatment option is typically conducted by professionals as the equipment needed to do this effectively is not readily available to homeowners. This method may involve tenting the structure to contain the heat or using specialized heating fans to raise temperatures high enough to ensure that the heat penetrates wood and other termite hiding spots thoroughly.

The major advantage of heat treatment is its ability to eliminate termites without the use of chemicals which makes it safe for the environment and the home’s inhabitants. It’s particularly suitable for treating specific areas or entire structures like apartments and condos and it allows residents to return to their premises within a few hours, unlike fumigation which requires an extended absence. However, heat treatment does have limitations. It may not be effective in structures where heat distribution is uneven or blocked by dense materials like concrete. Additionally, it requires the removal of heat-sensitive items from the treated area to prevent damage.

Liquid Nitrogen Treatment

Liquid nitrogen treatment is a newer, non-pesticide approach to termite eradication. This treatment option functions as a cold counterpart to heat treatment. By injecting liquid nitrogen directly into termite-infested areas, extreme cold instantly freezes and kills any termites it comes into contact with [8].

One of the primary benefits of liquid nitrogen treatment is its ability to target specific areas without the need for tenting the entire home. This method is particularly appealing for its non-toxic nature because it poses no chemical risks to humans, pets, or the environment. However, extreme cold poses its own set of risks, including the potential for flash freezing and damage to materials or injury if improperly handled. Due to the dangers associated with handling and applying liquid nitrogen, this treatment requires professional execution.

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Tent Treatment for Large Termite Infestation

termite tent fumigation to get rid of termites

Tent treatment, or fumigation, is considered one of the most effective methods for eradicating large termite infestations, especially those involving drywood termites. This process involves enclosing the affected structure in a large, sealed tent and introducing a gas fumigant like sulfuryl fluoride [9] that penetrates every nook and cranny of the building. This method ensures that termites hidden within walls, floorboards, and even the attic are reached and eliminated. The gas used is designed to be lighter than air which allows it to disperse throughout the structure and effectively target termite colonies regardless of their location.

The primary advantage of tent treatment is its comprehensive coverage and effectiveness which makes it a reliable option for extensive infestations that cannot be controlled with more localized methods. However, this method requires homeowners to vacate their properties for several days, as the fumigant is toxic to all living things including pets and plants. Additionally, any food products within the home must be removed or securely sealed to prevent contamination. Post-treatment, a thorough cleaning of the home is often necessary to ensure a safe environment for return. While tent treatment is a potent solution for severe termite problems, its inconvenience and the need for significant preparation and post-treatment cleaning are considerations for homeowners weighing their termite control options.

How Long Does Professional Termite Treatment Last?

The longevity of professional termite treatment varies significantly based on the type of treatment applied, environmental conditions, and the severity of the infestation. Liquid chemical treatments that are used for immediate relief in areas with active termite presence can offer protection for a few months which makes them a short-term solution. These treatments require periodic reapplication to maintain their effectiveness against new or lingering termite activity. On the other hand, liquid termiticide barriers that involve treating the soil around a property are designed with longevity in mind. These options typically offer protection that can last up to five years [10]. This longer-term solution provides a more durable defense against termite invasions. Termite bait stations act as both a treatment and a monitoring tool and can remain effective for about one year. They do need to be monitored and replenished regularly to ensure ongoing protection. Homeowners should engage with pest control professionals to assess the effectiveness of the treatment over time and determine when re-treatment is necessary to ensure their home remains protected from termite damage.

DIY Treatment Options

If a termite infestation is caught early, smaller localized treatment options may be effective. The risk associated with that is improper inspection done by unqualified homeowners may leave part of the colony alive. If this occurs, it is a matter of time before the colony bounces back to full strength and causes further damage. For smaller termite problems, the following treatment options may provide short term, temporary relief.

Spot Treatment

Spot treatment is a focused approach to termite eradication that is specifically useful for localized infestations caused by drywood termites. This method involves the application of termiticides directly onto the affected areas. When mixed with water and sprayed onto the infested wood, these substances can disrupt the termites’ central nervous systems and impair their ability to reproduce.

The advantage of spot treatment lies in its precision and minimal disruption to the household as it allows for targeted action without the need for extensive property treatment. It’s especially appealing for addressing isolated infestations or as a preventive measure in specific areas. However, the effectiveness of spot treatment is contingent on the accurate identification of all affected areas. Missed infestations can continue to grow which can potentially lead to more extensive damage. Additionally, while natural options are safer for humans and pets, their efficacy may vary compared to more potent chemical termiticides. Spot treatment serves as an efficient method for dealing with small-scale infestations but may require supplementary methods for more comprehensive termite control.

Boric Acid / Borate

Boric acid, also known as borate when used in solution form, is a highly effective and popular method for termite control. This method is particularly effective against dampwood termites. By treating wood directly with borate solutions, termites ingest the substance, which then kills the microorganisms in their digestive tracts causing the termites to starve. Boric acid baits also operate on a similar principle by disrupting termites’ nervous systems and causing dehydration. This method is favored for its efficacy and the convenience of application in various forms which can be applied to cracks, crevices, and infested wood.

One significant advantage of boric acid is its relatively low toxicity to humans and pets, making it a safer option for residential use compared to more hazardous chemicals. It’s also widely available and can be used as part of a DIY termite control strategy. However, while boric acid is effective at eliminating termites that come into direct contact with it, its reach may be limited to treated areas, potentially leaving unaffected parts of the colony to continue thriving.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a natural, non-toxic method used by homeowners to combat termite infestations. Composed of the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms, its sharp microscopic edges can penetrate the exoskeleton of termites which can lead to dehydration and death. Application involves sprinkling the fine powder around areas of suspected termite activity. This powder acts as a desiccant that dries up any termites that come into contact with it.

The primary advantage of diatomaceous earth is its safety for humans and pets which make it an appealing choice for those seeking eco-friendly pest control solutions. It’s also easy to apply and can be used in both indoor and outdoor settings. However, it’s only affective against termites that encounter it and it does not address the deeper problem of eliminating the colony as a whole. Furthermore, DE can be less effective in outdoor or humid environments where moisture may reduce its desiccating properties.

Essential Oil Treatment

Orange oil treatments is a natural, eco-friendly option utilized by pest control companies to eliminate drywood termites. The key component in orange oil is D-limonene which is derived from orange peels and is known for its potent insecticidal properties. Studies have shown that it inhibits termite feeding which results in them starving [11]. For effective treatment, it’s crucial to accurately locate the termite-infested areas, as the oil needs to be directly injected into the wood where termites reside.

One of the major advantages of orange oil treatment is its safety and environmental friendliness. It’s particularly appealing for treatments within residential spaces, where minimizing exposure to harmful substances is a priority. However, the effectiveness of orange oil is generally limited to the areas where it’s applied, requiring precise identification of termite colonies for successful eradication. Additionally, despite its natural origins, orange oil can be irritating to the skin and should be handled with care to avoid direct contact.

How to Prevent Termites

To effectively prevent termites from invading your home, consider implementing the following strategies:

  • Maintain a dry environment: Ensure that downspouts and gutters divert water away from your home’s foundation. Fix leaks promptly in plumbing and roofing.
  • Clean gutters regularly: This prevents creating moist environments that termites find attractive.
  • Store firewood and lumber away from your home: Keeping these materials at a distance minimizes the chances of termite attraction.
  • Monitor wooden structures: Be sure to pay attention to fences, patios, and decks as they are often the first things to become infested before termites move indoors.
  • Trim tree branches bushes: Ensure no branches come within six inches of your home to reduce termite access.
  • Opt for rubber or gravel mulch: Replace wood mulch with termite-resistant alternatives to eliminate appealing habitats.
  • Seal cracks and openings: Caulk and seal any cracks in the foundation and around utility lines or pipes to prevent termite entry.
  • Choose termite-resistant materials: When possible, use concrete foundations and termite-resistant wood in construction.
  • Regular inspections: Schedule annual termite inspections with a professional pest control company to catch potential infestations early.
  • Proper drainage: Maintain proper soil drainage around your home to keep the foundation dry and unappealing to termites.
  • Install screened vents: Ensure crawl spaces and attics have screened vents to reduce moisture buildup.
  • Avoid wood-to-soil contact: Keep untreated wood from making direct contact with the ground to discourage termites.

By following these preventive measures, homeowners can significantly reduce the risk of termite infestations and protect their properties from potential damage.

Contact Absolute Pest Management if You Are Dealing with Termites

If you’re dealing with termites or seeking to safeguard your home against future infestations, Absolute Pest Management is here to offer expert assistance. Our team of seasoned termite control professionals are equipped with the knowledge, tools, and strategies needed to effectively identify, treat, and prevent termite problems. Our branches are in Austin and Buda, Texas and we serve the surrounding communities. Don’t let termites undermine the integrity of your property. Reach out to Absolute Pest Management today for comprehensive termite solutions tailored to your unique needs. Together, we can preserve the comfort, safety, and value of your home.

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Getting Rid of Termite FAQs

  • How do you kill termites instantly?
    • Direct chemical treatments, such as termiticides containing fipronil or imidacloprid, can kill termites on contact. Additionally, heat treatment, which involves raising the temperature of infested areas to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of 30 minutes, can also kill termites instantly. These methods are highly effective but usually require professional application to ensure safety and comprehensive coverage.
  • What makes termites go away?
    • Eliminating moisture sources, removing food sources such as wood in contact with the ground, and applying termiticide barriers around the property can make termites go away. Professional pest control services often use a combination of treatments including soil treatments, bait systems, and direct chemical applications to eradicate termite colonies effectively and prevent future infestations.
  • Can you treat termites at home by yourself?
    • It is possible to treat minor termite infestations at home by yourself using over the counter termiticides, bait systems, and natural remedies like boric acid or diatomaceous earth. However, DIY treatments may not be effective for large or deep-seated infestations and misapplication can lead to recurring problems. For comprehensive eradication and to ensure the safety of your home’s structure, consulting a professional pest control service is often recommended.
  • How do I get rid of termites in my walls?
    • To get rid of termites in your walls, you can start by using direct chemical treatments like foam-based termiticides which are injected into the walls through drilled holes to reach the termites directly. Professional pest control services might also recommend fumigation or heat treatment for extensive infestations to ensure that termites within the walls are eradicated thoroughly. It’s crucial to identify the extent of the infestation accurately and choose the most effective treatment to prevent further damage.

Sources

[1] https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/manateeco/2019/01/16/intriguing-termite-facts/

[2] https://www.epa.gov/safepestcontrol/tips-selecting-pest-control-service

[3] https://njaes.rutgers.edu/fs338/

[4] https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef639

[5] https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/E-4/E-4.html

[6] https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/insects/insect-parasitic-nematodes-5-573/

[7] https://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7440.html

[8] https://extensionentomology.tamu.edu/publications/drywood-termites/

[9] http://npic.orst.edu/pest/fumigation.html

[10] https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef604

[11] https://ucanr.edu/sites/ucrurbanpest/files/339315.pdf

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