Termite FAQ

Learn more from our frequently asked questions about Termites

My next-door neighbor has termites and is going to have his house treated. Are the termites going to attack my house next?

Termites move randomly through the soil, searching for a source of food (wood); they don't know where your house is exactly. So, if your next-door neighbor treats his home for termites, your house isn't automatically the termites' next lunch. Your house does not need to be treated; but, if there are active termite infestations in your neighborhood, it is a good idea to have it inspected.

How to tell difference between termite damage or water damage?

Lightly tap any wood with the handle of your screwdriver. Does it sound solid? If not, poke the wood with the blade of the screwdriver. If it feels spongy of soft, investigate a little more. If the wood is spongy or soft, but there is no wood missing then it is probably water damage. The moisture problem should be corrected as soon as possible because it will attract termites. If you find the wood missing and the tunnels follow the grain of the wood, you may have either termites or carpenter ants. Termites move randomly through the soil, searching for a source of food (wood); they don't know where your house is exactly. So, if your next-door neighbor treats his home for termites, your house isn't automatically the termites' next lunch. Your house does not need to be treated; but, if there are active termite infestations in your neighborhood, it is a good idea to have it inspected.

When are termites most common?

Once a colony is established, termites are a year-round problem. However, there is an increase in colony expansion activity during warm weather.

We have dry wood termites. We are going to get a professional to do the treatment, but feel there must be something we can do to preclude re-infestation. Does the use of poison gas, like Vikane, kill subterranean termites?

Vikane, as well as other fumigants, will kill any living organism. It will not prevent termites from reentering the structure, though. Barrier treatments with traditional termiticides would be the only way to do this for subterranean termites. Dry wood termites are usually treated with fumigants. There aren't many ways to prevent future attacks from dry wood termites. Exposed and unfinished wood could be sprayed with Timbor or Boracare, but this would only protect the exposed wood.

What is "pretreatment"? How is this different from "treatment"?

Pretreatment means treating the soil under the structure before cement floors are poured in place. This treatment would be a great benefit instead of drilling through concrete. The treatment method, amount and kind of pesticide used, and methods of application are the same for both pretreatment and treatment unless drilling would be needed.

What is the best termite chemical available now for termite treatment?

Currently, termite insecticides containing fipronil is the best choice. We carry both Termidor SC and Navigator SC, which are both 9.1 % Fipronil and mix and apply the same ways. Navigator SC is more economical. The most common reason that a chemical/barrier treatment would possibly fail is when the application results in an incomplete insecticide barrier around the structure.

An incomplete application, according to the label, could be:

  • The termiticide is diluted with too much water
  • The insecticide is not injected into the footings of the basement.
  • The volume of insecticide was insufficient according to the label.
  • Treatment procedures are found clearly on the insecticide label and should be followed carefully to ensure proper coverage.
I heat my home with firewood, and I'm always worried about bringing in termites. Is there something that I can safely spray on my firewood to kill any termites or carpenter ants before I bring the wood into the house?

Not to worry. Subterranean termites don't live in the wood. They live in the ground. Any termites trapped in the wood will not survive because they cannot reproduce without the queen. However, don't store the wood inside because ants and beetles may come in with the wood.

The pest control company will give me a one-year warranty on the treatment. After that, I must pay $150 a year for a yearly inspection. If the termites come back, the company will cover the treatment cost. Is this a good investment?

The limited warranties offered by pest control companies are more like buying termite control insurance than a warranty. Whether or not it is a good investment is relative and depends on the level of risk a homeowner wants to assume. In the event of a termite re-infestation, will all costs be covered by the warranty? Will they cover structural damage? What will the homeowner have to be responsible for? Can the company's yearly inspection fee be increased, or is it fixed for several years?

I have a foam barrier around my slab. Is this a problem and if so, what is the solution?

Foam barriers need to be removed. Termites get behind them or go right through them to get to your home. It can be a real problem. Some homes have foam barriers because a previous requirement for federally sponsored loans required home builders to wrap the slab to save energy. Now that the risks are understood, no one can get a federal-sponsored loan or refinance unless removed. Remove the foam insulation to allow at least a 6-inch clearance from the soil and the foam board. Enough foam insulation should be removed to properly treat the soil above any insulation left in the ground.

There is a concrete foundation wall down in my basement, and above the wall is wood, which is covered with insulation. At the base of the concrete wall, by the floor, every week, I am vacuuming up thick piles of what looks like sawdust at the same location. I've examined the wood above these piles, pulled out the insulation, and found no wood damage evidence. Are there any other possibilities other than termites? Is there anything more specific I should be looking for that would enable me to identify the problem?

You don't have termites. Sounds like carpenter ants. Check the outside of the house for ant activity at night. Spraying into the cracks with Taurus SC from which the ants emerge is the best answer.

I have a brick house that has a small infestation problem that has just been chemically treated. However, I want to cross over to the Sentricon system and they are asking way too much money. I can do this myself but I need to know what I need. The perimeter of my house is about 200 linear feet. How many bait stations would I use?

The Advance/Trelona Termite Bait Systems kits (size 10/6) should do your house.

How often should my house be treated for termites?

This is a difficult question to answer. Many factors, including soil type, termite chemical used, quality of treatment, construction type, and design of the home, can all affect the longevity of termiticides in the soil. Your best bet is to have your home inspected annually, following a responsible professional's instructions in your area.

There is a tree about 50 feet from my house that is not dead but does have one dead branch. I found termites in the dead portion of this tree. I am going to do a thorough search around my house and look for any other dead wood and/or mud tunnels. I don't believe the termites are in or near the house. What recommendations do you have to treat this tree? Is there a good chance these termites are going to find my house? Should I treat my house also? What pesticides do you recommend whether applied professionally or by me? Please keep in mind I have two small children who play in the yard.

The termites will only consume the deadwood. This is a good thing, nature's way. I would inspect the house regularly and for peace of mind, have a professional exterminator inspect it for you.

I believe I saw a termite in my house recently, therefore I called a pest control company to check out the house to see if they note any termites/or damage. The person from the pest control company looked in the crawl space and basement for apparent mud holes and found no reason to believe that I have termites. I am concerned though, as I am finding small-very small round holes in my drywall for no apparent reason. They show up where there is no logical reason for a "nail" hole to be used for an explanation. I have found no wings near window sills, and nothing like pellet dropping from the bored out holes. Should I request another pest control company for a second opinion?

Yes I would, a common sign of termites is the appearance of small holes(sometimes filled or capped with mud) in the drywall. It may or may not be termites, but I would ask for another opinion.

Can you recommend a product to kill termites that are destroying a tree?

Termites don't eat wood from a tree. When termites are found in or on a live tree, something is causing the pith or cambium layer of the tree to die. Termites invade and eat the dead cellulose. You might have a tree doctor look at what would be causing the decline in the tree.

Is it advisable to remove a tree stump (pine or eucalyptus) which is in the ground 4 feet away from the concrete foundation of our house in order to prevent termites from colonizing in that tree stump from which colony they might eventually migrate through cracks in the concrete into our house? If so, what is the recommended width of a zone around a house in which a tree stump should not be left in the ground for the purpose of preventing termite infestation of the house?

It is believed that roots grow out as far as branches do on most trees. Roots from the stump can lead termites through the chemical barrier to the structure. What this means is that the diameter of the stump will affect how far away it needs to be classified as "no threat". Four feet for every 6 inches in diameter is a rule that has been adopted by many pest control companies.

I brought in 2 small logs and placed them in the fireplace for future burning...the next day I noticed a termite walking across the floor and then several others in the fireplace. Should I be concerned that they are nesting in my living room now? Or will I be ok after getting rid of the logs?? Please advise!

Their colony and queens are located far away in the ground. They have no means of reproduction and they will die from dehydration very quickly.

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