Protecting your home is one of the most important financial investments you will make. Texas homeowners lose hundreds of millions each year to termites. Every homeowner has a responsibility to know how to identify termites and what to do. This publication answers the most frequently asked questions about termites.

Q. What are these black, winged insects in my home?

A. Often referred to simply as “swarmer’s”, the job of reproductive termites, also known as “swarmer’s,” is to mate and create new colonies. Termite termite swarmer’s may have wings or not. Often, their wings are shed soon after they fly. Although termites swarming with each other are sometimes confused with ants, they can be distinguished using two simple characters. Termites don’t have the “pinched waist” of ants. Termites have equal length wings, as opposed to ants with longer front wings. Although termite termite’s will occasionally enter homes through windows or doors, it is not uncommon to find termite’s indoors. Termite swarms are common throughout the year. However, they are most prevalent between February and May in Texas.

Q. I found termites in my backyard. Is it necessary to treat my house?

A. Not necessarily. Termites are common in Texas. Termites are a common problem in yards, particularly those that are older and more established. Termites can be more common in certain areas, but there is a good chance that your yard contains them. Although termites can be found in fences and woodpiles or in landscape timbers it is a sign that your home may need to be treated.

There are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of termites infesting your home. To begin, learn about termites and how they look so you can recognize if your house is infested. To check for termite activity, inspect the foundation of your house. Termite shelter tube are hollow soil tunnels that extend from the soil to your home and allow termites to travel between their underground nests and their food supply (your house). For professional termite inspectors to inspect, you should leave at least a portion of any suspicious mud structures. Keep soil and other debris (such as stacked wood) away from your home’s foundation. This will reduce the likelihood of termite entry, and make it easier to inspect your home in case you find termite signs.

It’s a smart idea to have termites checked by a professional if you suspect them. Termite inspections can be done for free, except when you require a formal report to use in a real-estate transaction.

Q. Can I treat my own home?

A. You can often find do-it-yourself termite treatment chemicals at hardware and feed stores. These products can be used to treat small areas of termite infestations. However, professional treatments are required to fully treat homes. Do-it yourself termite control should not be attempted on smaller structures like sheds, fence posts, decks, and wood piles.

Q.How dangerous are these termite control chemicals?

A. A. The chance that you will be exposed to pesticide trace amounts after a termite treatment are much lower than the risk of exposure following a treatment for fleas or cockroaches. This is because termite treatments are generally directed to the soil beneath and around the house, not the indoor areas. Children and pregnant women should leave the house during treatment. The home should be aired for at least 1-2 hours after the application. These precautions will minimize the risk and you shouldn’t notice any unusual odors if they are observed.

While there are some differences in the toxicity of commercial termiticide formulations in terms of their toxicity, most consumers are safe when they’re used correctly.

Q. What can I believe?

A. These preferences could be valid because product performance and soil types can differ from one area to the next. Ask salespeople to explain why they chose a product. Ask about the length of time that company has used the product.

Texas A&M University has conducted tests at five locations in Texas over the last 20 years and found that termiticides currently registered have a life expectancy between four and ten years. The non-repellent termiticides (fipronil and imidacloprid) seem to be more effective than termiticides that repel termites (e.g. cypermethrin or bifenthrin) in Texas. It is better to select a company for its reputation, service, and warranty than the termiticide they use. If you ask, most termite control businesses will offer you a choice of products.

The highest allowed rate of application, regardless of product used is the best and will last the longest. Although it may be more expensive, research has shown that higher rates will provide the best termite performance over the lifetime of your warranty.

Q. Does my entire house need to be treated or just a portion? A partial treatment is cheaper, according to my doctor.

A. It depends on your future plans, willingness to take risks, and your financial resources as to whether this is a good idea. Spot treatments are possible, but termites can often enter structures from far away. Spot treatments often come with a limited warranty, meaning that you may need to pay additional treatment if termites return. A complete treatment is likely to be more cost-effective than spot treatments that come with a limited warranty. A home that has been treated for termites should not be purchased by a new homeowner. A few termiticides are available that use “perimeter-only” treatments. This means that perimeter treatments can be combined with spot treatments at activity points within the structure. Only use non-repellent termiticides for perimeter-only applications. This is only allowed when the label allows it.

Q. I’m confused. One company uses baits, and the other uses liquid insecticides that are applied under my house. Which one is better?

A. This is the most frequent question we get about termite control. There is no easy answer. Both methods have their advantages. Baits can suppress or eliminate termites colonies, unlike conventional liquid termiticides that provide a chemical barrier. Baits contain a slow-acting growth regulator or toxicant that is combined with a termite food. Foraging worker termites deliver the toxicants to the colony, sharing their food with other colony members.

Termite baiting systems are considered the most effective termite treatment method due to their efficient delivery system and low levels of pesticide. The downsides to baiting systems include a higher cost (this is changing as stations require fewer maintenance visits), a delay between installation and termite eating of the baits (it is difficult to predict when termites will begin to feed on the bait once it is installed), and the inability to provide ongoing protection after the contract ends. However, termite-baiting systems have been proven to be effective in eliminating long-standing termite problems from many homes. Customers of pest control companies are generally satisfied with their bait-system services.

Baiting systems are proven to be successful and they continue to improve. Remember that termites can be quickly replaced in your yard by colonies that have been destroyed by baits. To provide continuous protection, you will need to continue baiting.

A reliable company can apply liquid insecticides to the soil. This provides fast and reliable termite control. Non-repellent termiticides are more effective at controlling termite infestations in homes, even though not all entry points can be treated. The soil-applied termiticides last five years or longer in the soil. This means that you don’t need to keep your home protected. Although some companies offer extended warranties or annual inspections, you are still protected even if the contract is terminated.

Insecticides that are applied to soil have historically been cheaper than baiting systems. This could be true for you. When deciding on the best treatment for your home, compare quotes and take into account long-term maintenance costs.

Bait is a great alternative to standard termite treatment methods. Today, many companies use a combination or partial treatment and baiting systems as part of an integrated termite management program.

Q. Recently, I saw a termite bait at my local hardware store. Do I have the option to save money by baiting my own home?

A. Do-it-yourself baiting sounds like a great way to save money but it has not been tested well and could be more costly than you think. Do-it-yourself bait stations made of cardboard tend to degrade and decay quickly in the soil. It should be replaced every 3-4 month. Do-it-yourself baiting stations can be as costly as professional ones due to this. Texas A&M University has not been able to show that do-it yourself products can control termites. Remember that if a DIY treatment fails, the money-back guarantee does not cover expensive repairs caused by termite damage. It is best to contact a professional termite control firm if you are experiencing a termite problem.

Q. How do the termite detection stakes offered by my pest control company work?

A. These stations are not like bait stations in that they do not contain insecticides or provide termite control. These devices provide an electronic signal or a pop-up tab that indicates when termites have been feeding on the station. These stations are a smart way to detect termite activity in your area. However, a positive signal from the station should not mean your home needs treatment. Termites are common in urban areas. However, not all homes become infested. You might want to ask your pest control company to inspect your home and point out any potential risk factors that could be addressed to lower your chance of termites.

Q.What about non-chemical and “organic” controls for termites?

A. There are many options for termite control, including nematodes, fungi and orange oil, sand barriers and “borate” sprays. Beneficial nematodes are microscopic worms which feed on termites and other insects. Nematodes are not recommended for termites that have been found in structures.

Sand barriers are uniformly sized particles (between 2 and 2.8 mm in diameter) that make it difficult for termites or other insects to penetrate. Sand barriers should be between 3-6 and 20 inches in depth, and at least 20 inches in width. They can be placed in foundation walls, bath traps, and other slab openings. Because sand barriers can be easily disturbed at the perimeter of slab-constructed homes, they are not often used in Texas. They will be more effective in crawl spaces, where soil is unlikely to be disturbed.

It has not been proven that orange oil sprays can control termites in structures.

Borate sprays use boron compounds similar to boric acid. Borate salts can be dissolved in water and have low toxicity. Treated wood prevents termite infestation and other forms of wood decay. It is best to apply a borate solution to structural wood before or during construction. Because of the difficulty of obtaining a complete treatment, termites and wood decay can only be protected in existing homes if borate sprays are applied to wall voids or exposed timber. Borate dusts applied to attics for termites does not provide protection against subterranean termite attacks.

For termite protection, stainless steel mesh barriers are now available. These products can be installed at the time of construction and will provide excellent protection against termites if properly installed.

Q. How important is the warranty?

A. The warranty outlines the terms and conditions under which the company assumes responsibility for termite activity. Compare the warranties provided by different companies. You should have the option to extend your warranty beyond the one-year standard warranty. The annual cost of treatment should not exceed 20% to renew your warranty. Extended warranties are good for termites activity for at least the first year or two years following treatment.

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