Q. What are Termites?
A. In California, two kinds of termites are most usual. They are commonly called SUBTERRANEAN and DRYWOOD termites. Both kinds use the wood of your house for food.
- SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES
These termites always have their nest in the ground. To reach their food, which is your house, they must find a way to travel back and forth. This they do through tubes, which they construct. The tubes serve to protect them from their enemies when they leave the ground in search for food. The presence of subterranean termites in your house is usually detected by the appearance of these tubes. Your termite inspector knows where and how to look for them.
- DRYWOOD TERMITES
These termites also use the woodwork of your house for their food and for their home. They never go to the ground, but spend their entire life within the woodwork. They make no tubes. Your termite inspector detects them by the presence of small pellets, resembling coarse sawdust. They eject these pellets from their habitat through holes they make in the wood. You may have seen these pellets on windowsills or about your house.
Q. What can be done about them?
A. The termite control operator has three possible methods of dealing with DRYWOOD TERMITES.
- Removal of all infested wood. This is a good method, but is seldom used. Most houses it is only possible to see a very small portion of the wood in which it is built. It is very expensive to tear a house apart just for examination. However, unless actual inspection of all the woodwork is made, there is no way to be sure that all infestations have been removed.
- Drilling and treating. In this method, holes are drilled into the wood where the colonies are found then pesticides are injected. The insects that can be found can effectively be destroyed.
- Fumigation. Every part of the house is accessible to a lethal gas, which penetrates into the termite channels and kills the insects.
Q. How did the DRYWOOD TERMITES get into my house?
A. They probably flew in through attic vents, small cracks in the eaves or around windows. Infestations most frequently start this way. They may have been in the lumber that went into the original construction. New infestations in timber are very difficult to detect unless they are accidentally discovered during construction.
Q. What is whole house treatment of drywood termites?
A. Fumigation. For fumigation, you must remove all pets, plants, remove or seal medications, and food. You will be required to stay out of the house approximately three to five days, depending on the type of infestation, size of the house and other factors. The house is then enclosed in a tent of vinyl tarps and sealed with plastic, tape, or other materials. The fumigator will post a sign on the property when it is safe to return.
Q. What is localized treatment?
A. Local or spot control methods include the use of pesticides, electric current, extreme cold, localized heat, microwave energy, or any combination of these. Local or spot control also includes the removal and replacement of infested structural timbers. These methods are intended to remove or kill termites only within the specific targeted areas, leaving open the possibility of other undetected infestations within the structure. These treatments are not designed for whole house eradication. Any pest control company that claims whole house results with local or spot control is guilty of false advertising and should be reported.
Local or spot treatment with pesticides involves drilling and injecting pesticides into infested timbers, as well as topical application. The electric current method involves delivering electric energy to targeted infestations. For the extreme cold method, liquid nitrogen is pumped into wall voids adjacent to suspected infestation sites, reducing the area to -20°F. The localized heat method involves heating infested structural timbers to 120°F. The microwave method kills termites by directing microwaves into termite infested wood.
Q. Why doesn't the regular termite man do my fumigation?
A. Some termite operators are, in addition to being termite specialists, good fumigators. But many termite operators consider fumigation with a lethal gas to be better done when left to the specialists, who, by doing a great deal of fumigation's, acquire great skill and can more economically maintain the equipment necessary. Just as your family physician may call for a specialist who has been intensively trained so may a termite operator often prefer to have his fumigation performed by a specialist in that class of work.
Q. Why do I need a termite inspection?
A. Many lenders require it, so they can be sure there are no active termite infestations in any home they finance. If you're buying, you want to be sure you're not buying termites and termite damage along with your new house.
Q. How long does the inspection take? What’s involved?
A. Usually, it takes less than an hour. A skilled, experienced technician will check the entire house thoroughly, from foundation to roof. He knows exactly where to look for telltale signs of the presence of termites or other wood destroying insects, and any damage. His tools may include a flashlight, a rubber mallet, a screwdriver or other probe, and perhaps a small long-handled mirror for inspecting the hard-to-reach areas where termites are often found.
Q. What if no evidence of termites is found?
A. You will receive written notification stating that no visible evidences of infestation have been found in the accessible areas that were checked. But any home should be reinspected periodically, especially if neighboring homes show signs of termites.
Q. How can I recognize a reliable termite firm?
A. Get references from homeowners who have used them. Check with local banks and Real Estate Professionals who deal with them. Ask pointed questions about their business history and their people. Find out how well trained their inspection personnel are, and if the company belongs to local, state or national pest control associations.
Q. What if the inspection shows termites or other wood destroying insects are present?
A. Then it will be necessary to treat the property to prevent any further damage.
Q. What chemicals are used to control termites?
A. There are two major classes in use today, organophosphates and synthetic pyrethroids. Both are effective and safe when used properly, but there are some significant differences between them. Your pest control professional will be happy to explain these differences to you.
Q. Will my family have to vacate the house?
A. Only if it is necessary to treat for drywood termites. Subterranean termites can be controlled while the house is occupied. Again, your pest control professional will carefully explain whatever procedures are necessary.
Q. Will there be an odor?
A. There may be a slight odor for a while after treatment. However, it is non-lingering, and any trace of it should disappear in just a few days.
Q. If a treatment is needed, what might be the cost?
A. Costs vary widely, and no meaningful answer can be given until the inspection is completed, the size and structure of the home determined, and other factors assessed. It is important to remember, however, that the cost of termite treatment is minor when compared to the equity and investment represented in a home.
Q. Could I do it myself?
A. That’s not practical, since special equipment and application techniques are required. Thoroughly trained and experienced personnel have the skills necessary to do the job properly.
Q. What if there already is extensive damage?
A. If the damage threatens the soundness or appearance of the structure, it must be repaired. This is a specialized type of work, but your pest control representative is familiar with it and can help you arrange for repairs.
Q. Termites won't attack a new house, will they?
A. Unfortunately, they have been known to... sometimes within days of completion.
Q. How do subterranean termites get into a house?
A. Very easily. All they need is an opening 1/64” wide. They may enter directly from the soil, or they may build airtight tubes leading from their colony in the soil to the wood of your house. They usually commute daily between the wood and their colony.
Q. How important is thoroughness in termite inspections?
A. Very important, because an undetected termite infestation could result in damage later.
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