Insects are straight up impossible to avoid no matter which part of the world you live in.
A few of them are relatively easy to share your home with. Others, not quite.
But I hope you agree with me when I say:
Termites belong to the majority that are a big pain in the ass to deal with.
And like any responsible homeowner, you should make it your first priority to get them out of your property.
What are Termites?
Before determining termite treatment cost for your property. It is important to understand what termites are and how they work. Termites are commonly known as white ants or “anai-anai” in local Malay language. They are small in size (4-11 mm) and have three body parts namely, the head, thorax and abdomen. They are social insects that live in colonies. Termite colonies have a number of different individuals known as castes. Each caste has its own role within a colony which characterized by the allotment of labor within the castes with the sharing of food, shelter and resources and cooperation in rearing the young. Termite colonies contain nymphs, workers, soldiers, and reproductive individuals of both sexes, sometimes containing several egg-laying queens. At maturity, they grow from several hundred to several million individuals.
Losses Caused By Termites
Termites are significantly involved in damaging woods, including beds, cabinets, desks, and book shelves. Apart from damaging the beauty of the home, they also wreck its value. The damages caused by termites cannot be overruled. Termites can create havoc if the problem is not resolved. If the threat remains undetected, you may find them spreading all over the house. This will result in heavier losses as you would need untimely repairs.
Types of Termites
There are many species of termites, 45 to be exact. And I’m pretty sure you won’t like to read about all of them – unless you’re preparing for your Entomology exams. The good news is that all of these are classified into three types; subterranean, drywood termites, dampwood termites.
1 ) Subterranean Termites
This specie is among the top insects that build the biggest nests in the US. Subterranean termites live in the soil, and connect their nests through mud tubes to feast sources such as trees or structural timer in your house. The majority of property damage in the US is also done by Subterranean termites.
2) Drywood Termites
Drywood termites can also cause severe damage to your property. But since their colonies are not as big as Subterranean termites, the damage is done at a much slower pace. These don’t need any kind of contact with the soil, and as the name implies they can live in any kind of wooden structures inside your home.
3) Dampwood Termites
These belong to species that are rarely found in homes and man-made buildings, nor do they live in the soil. Their ideal habitat is moist wooden structures, which most homes don’t have.
How Do You Get Termites?
Termites come to your home for the same reason any other insect will, food! Termites usually feed on wood, cardboard or pretty much anything that they can chew – even plastic. What they’re really after is cellulose. One of the most abundant organic compounds on Earth that can be found in wood or plant cells.
And any tiniest of gaps left behind leading in to your home, are treated as a proper invitation by termites. Lack of ventilation and increased moisture can also help survive and invite in to your home.
What are Signs of Infestation?
A new termite infestation starts in a swarm. It’s the time when termites leave their old home to build a new one. When a termite colony is fully-developed, it starts producing swarmers – termites with wings. These swarmers fly away from their colonies, find a partner, and when their wings are dropped they mate. These swarming seasons can occur in different times for different termites.
For subterraneans, this season starts when it begins to get warmer, usually after a rain event. If you were unlucky enough to host a new termite colony. Then here are some signs that you would see:
1 ) Damaged Wood Structures or Furniture: Once termites are in your home, they start feasting. They slowly eat the wood, making it hollow. Damaged wood also means that your home has been infested for quite a while now. In which case you should take security measures without any delay.
2) Mud-Tubes: Whenever termites find a food-source that they can feed upon for a long time. They create mud-tubes to easily access it. Presence of such tubes clearly indicate termite infestation.
3) Shedded Wings: Nature only gives swarming termites wings so that they can fly to their new colonies. But once they get there, and start mating. Their wings shed off. You can spot the difference between the wings of termites and flying ants by looking at their length. Flying-ants have unequal wing lengths while both wings of termites have the same length.
4) Frass: Frass, termite-droppings or pellets are the same thing. They kinda look like coffee grounds mixed with sand. Termite-droppings is also red-flag about infestation.
Popular Termite Chemical Extermination Methods
1) Liquid Chemical Barrier (Repellent Treatment):
One of the old-school methods, still widely used is the liquid chemical barrier or repellent treatment. Repellents are liquid chemicals that are absorbed in soil to create a barrier for termite invasion. Although, liquid chemical barriers are not created to kill termites. They still wipe out a small percentage of termites that get in contact. The job of a liquid repellent is to divert any termites coming your way and it does this job pretty effectively. On the other hand, there are some weak points of this treatment too. Actually, it’s pretty hard to soak every bit of soil around your home. Especially in places which are not in reach, need drilling or covered with concrete slabs. Moreover, any gaps left in the soil even as wide as a few centimeters, would fail the whole process. Since termites are really good at finding gaps to reach new food sources.
2) Non-Repellent Treatment
Just like the name suggests, non-repellents do not divert termites. But don’t worry! Even if a termite makes it in to your home, it won’t last long. Because non-repellents use slow-poison to kill termites. Unlike baiting systems, these lethal elements do not get transferred to other nest-mates that never got in contact with the chemical. But just like the repellent treatment, non-repellents also need to be applied thoroughly in the soil to avoid any cracks that might bring termites in the future. For termites that were already inside the house before application. They are limited inside the house. Making their access to soil impossible – their only source to get moisture. Without it, they eventually die. All the eggs laid by the reproductives in the colony don’t survive for long too. Either they die out of hunger -since adult termites are dead, or they die due to lack of moisture.
Termites – How they manage to do massive damage?
You may be astonished to know just how much damage termites can do. But you have to bear in mind that while a single termite may be only eight millimeters (a third of an inch) in length, a colony or nest can hold between several hundred and several million termites.
The majority of this number will be workers and their duty is to go out and get sufficient food for all the inhabitants of the colony. In general, they search for cellulose material, but in practice that could be your home, especially if it is made mostly of timber. Not that they will not gnaw their way through other materials too.
Plastic, soft metals like lead, and even concrete are no actual barrier to thousands of determined termites. But they would rather eat wood. Some species prefer dry timber and others would rather damp or rotting timber. However, do not think that you will necessarily see termite damage at a glance. Often termites will eat their way into the end grain of a piece of wood and then work their way up through the center of it.
This section of the timber is the newest growth and, presumably, the most succulent to a termite. Anyway, they will gnaw into the center of, say, a floor joist, and make a walk-way or gallery through it to the next piece of timber. So you may not realize that you have termites until they have so undermined your floor that you drop into the basement one day.
This is why, if you live in an area where termites are known to be vigorous, you should have your house inspected or sprayed at least once a year. Just because you have not observed a termite or any termite damage, does not mean that you have not got termites. Not by a long chalk.
There are three main types of termite: the damp wood termite, the dry timber termite and the subterranean termite. As you can see, no matter what state the timber in your house is in, there is a termite that will eat it. By far the nastiest of these is the subterranean termite and by far the worst of those is the Formosan termite. Do not make the error of thinking that you are secure from the Formosan termite because you do not live in China. They are all over Asia and in the USA too.
Subterranean termites, living underground, are evidently much more difficult to spot. Not only that, they are either very clever or very introverted, because they construct walk-ways or tubes of earth from the exits from their underground colonies to the nearest bit of timber. This helps them go unobserved, unless you know what you are looking for, and then, when they have reached timber, they will burrow into the end grain and they are off, eating their way into the very fabric of your home.
Within months all the timber support beams, purlins, rafters and joists could be hollow shells of wood. One strong gust of wind or a heavy snowfall and that might be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Factors that govern termite treatment cost:
One of the reasons why it is hard to give an accurate cost estimate for everybody is that the treatment depends upon many different factors that govern the overall price. It is also the reason every professional pest control service would first conduct an inspection before giving you the total cost. To give you an idea, here is a list of factors that can increase or decrease your termite treatment cost.
Over the last few decades, many methods have been brought in to use to get rid of termites. Each with their own benefits, drawbacks and costs. Each method can cost you more or less depending on the nature of your property. For example, if you choose to go with chemical extermination when termites colonies are present in places that are hard to access, like below concrete slabs. The cost would be more. Which is why termite control methods can contribute a lot to what the total cost of treatment is going to be.
Prices can also vary depending upon your location. Cities like New York or Los Angeles tend to be more expensive in pest control services than any small town or city.
If you’re lucky enough to detect termite infestation on time. Then most likely, your whole home is not infested. Keep in mind, termite treatment would only be confined to the areas with termites, other areas can be treated with repellents to fail future attacks. Which is why, the more area you have infested in your home, the more it would cost to get rid of termites.
Termites can severely damage your home or commercial property, and leave you homeless for weeks (not to
mention terribly inconvenienced). Identifying them is one of the most crucial steps in saving your property. Often times identifying termites early can mean the difference between salvaging your property and declaring a loss or requiring serious renovations.
Termite Inspection – DIY Methods
- The first sign of termites will be swarms of them, flying inside your home, in an effort to colonize and bring more food to build a colony. Homeowners will be able to find termite bodies laying in droves, near window sills and doors, or wherever else there may be an opening so they can escape.
- Hollowed wood is also a tell-tale sign of termites. Examine suspicious pieces of furniture to determine if it’s been hollowed. You can usually feel for any areas that are not dense or seem lighter than usually. You may even be able to gently manipulate the wood with your hands, possibly even crumbling it. Sometimes hollowed wood actually has a certain sound that normal wood doesn’t have.
- Shelter tubes are a classic trademark of termites. They’re pencil shape long narrow holes in the dirt near your home or in pieces of wood where termites burrow and colonize. You can also examine day-by-day to determine how quickly termites are colonizing in your home or business.
Check moisture-prone areas of your home or business which is where termites congregate. Termites love moisture, so any areas of exposed wood that haven’t been treated with water repellant coatings are particularly vulnerable.
- Check for areas of your home that have dirt in unusual places. Termites typically leave trails of dirt as they travel to and from colonies in your home. This can also easily be confused with dirt that naturally collects on the wood near a window sill, a crevice in the wall, the corner of a bookshelf, or the corner of a room. This is where using your best judgment comes in handy, and where you can use some of the other criteria listed above to help you determine what is dirt and what is a paper trail of termite infestation.
Termite Inspection Cost- Professional Services
If you want to go one step forward in making sure your house is safe. Handing over the inspection to professionals is not a bad idea. Most of the pest control companies provide a free termite inspection. However, top notch companies might charge you anywhere from $65 to $100 for termite inspection services.
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Termite Treatment DIY Methods
So there might have come a time, when you looked at the mess termites have created and asked yourself, “What can I do about this problem on my own.” You need to understand that treating any kind of infestation requires you to know what kind of termites you are dealing with. Because the methods, their costs and efficiency varies depending on the species. You can learn more about the termite types above.
Subterranean Termites DIY Treatment Methods
1 ) Chemical Extermination
Liquid Termiticides, if applied properly can be effective in treating Subterranean termites. Application of such chemicals can block the passage of termites in to your home, and restrict access to soil for termites already in your home – which they need for moisture.
But just a word of warning; their application is not possible for everyone – depending on the property. Application of these liquid termiticides in the soil can often require drilling of wood and concrete slabs. On the other hand, if you’re house is free from any kind obstacles, and you think you can soak the soil around your house with ease, then this method might be convenient for you.
The efficiency of these kind of chemical solutions depends on how well you have put the repellents in the soil. If even a tiny bit of space is not properly covered then expect some unwanted visitors to your home soon. Keep in mind, termites are really small insects. And there colonies can travel through a space as wide as a pencil.
An average termiticide treatment can last from 5-8 years. It can take around 20 oz of dilute termidor to treat 60 linear feet of area. Which means that an area of 240 linear feet can take 80 oz of termidor – worth $230-$270.
2) Termite Baiting Systems
Baiting systems are a much advanced approach of wiping out entire termite colonies. These baiting systems work more effectively when the termite colonies feed on the bait as a major food source. Think of it as a virus. Once an infected termite gets in contact with others, it multiplies its victims extensively.
How do Termite Baits work?
Termite baits consists of cardboard, wood or any other acceptable termite-food – poisoned with a chemical lethal to termites. A good termite bait works slowly, giving time for the first effected termite to reach its colony. This is essential for two reasons; one being that we want the information of new food-source passed to other termites. Second, the transmission of poison would effect a much bigger target, even the ones that never fed on the bait. A good termite bait system can cost you around $500.
Drywood Termites DIY Treatment:
Drywood termites make their colonies in wood structures, unlike subterranean termites. Which is why termidors and baiting systems don’t work that well for them. Ideally, if your house is not largely infested by drywood termites. You can simply remove or replace the wooden structures that are infested. But if doing so is not preferable or you’re facing a huge termite invasion, products like Bora Care can help. Please keep in mind, that in case of a huge infestation we always recommend that you consult a professional agency instead of taking matters in your own hand.
You can apply Boracare to infested wooden structures that have not been painted or stained. Otherwise, you would actually need to drill holes at least 3-4 inches in depth before applying the the product. The goal here is to make sure that the toxic material is in reach of termites. You can tell you’ve reached the termite gallery when you have to apply less pressure while drilling.
Dampwood Termites DIY Treatment
Dampwood termites are largest in size, and live in rotten structures that have high moisture conditions. Dampwood termites are rarely found in a normal home. And most of the times their presence indicates an unusual source of moisture. These can be plumbing defaults, lack of ventilation, poor drains or construction made in a way that provides too much contact with soil. The best practice to take out dampwood termites in your home is to identify and remove the moisture sources that are necessary for dampwood termite survival.
The Full Termite Treatment Cost – Professional
A home owner may fret over the cost of termite treatment. An exterminator may charge hundreds of dollars to wipe out most infestations. The typical cost associated with termite treatment depends on two main things: The method used and the area that needs to be cleared.
The cost of the treatment does not depend on the species. It depends on how many insects are in the home, how badly the home is infested. The final treatment cost deals with the cost of repair. If the hives are found in only a few places, the process may only take a short time. Hives found throughout the house can easily rack up the cost. If you’re interested in a close estimate, then termite treatments can cost from $500 to $5000 depending on the factors I mentioned above.
Popular termite treatment methods are discussed below with their respective costs.
Termite Tenting: What Is It And its Cost?
Perhaps you have seen a large tent or tarp covering a house or other structure and wondered, what it was? What you saw is evidence of termite tenting or fumigation, which, despite continued concerns, has been proven not to pose a risk to either humans or pets so long as the procedure is allowed to run its course undisturbed. Used for large infestations of dry wood termites, the treatment is quite expensive and this is why great care needs to be taken to verify that the structure to be treated has in fact been infested by a large colony.
Cost varies with professionals you hire to carry out the activity. But the average cost for Termie Tenting can be from $1,200 to $2,500 for a 1,250-square foot house. And $2,200 – $3,800 for a 2,500-square foot house
Environmentalists deplore the use of fumigation as a pest control strategy against termite infestations. However, the process continues to be employed and some states even require it be done before a house can be sold. There are, despite its effectiveness, some limitations to its use. It is ineffective against subterranean termites. In addition, it has no effect on unhatched eggs — although some exterminators claim that since there are no workers alive to feed the nymphs, once they hatch they will starve to death. Further, this form of extermination does not prevent new colonies from taking up residence, especially after the early spring swarming season.
Chemical Extermination Cost
Chemicals can be used to effectively treat the area infested. A tarpaulin is put on the item where the chemical goes through the area infested by means of gas. Using chemicals will help destroy the termites that are seen and those that are not visible. Some may be inside a structure where eyes can not see. When using chemicals remember to remove pets and plants away from the structure and avoid contamination which may bring side effects to them. The item treated should be kept away from pets and animals for at least 3 days. After this treatment, remember to air the structure before using it again.
Chemical extermination is generally priced by the linear foot. A home that is around 150-linear feet, or 1,250-square feet, will cost about $1,350 to $2,500 for a chemical extermination service. A 2,500-square foot home with 200 linear feet will be about $1,700-$3,200.
The only disadvantage with using this method is that it does not assure non-recurrence of the termites in future as it deals with the present termites only.
Termite Baiting System Cost
Termite Baiting system is a methodology that uses an edible but toxic material as a bait against termites. These baits are normally installed underground, or any other area that is most infected. This method is effective because it works like a virus, spreading and killing other members that didn’t even fed on our bait. You can refer to this helpful article to learn more about How the baiting system works.
The cost of Termite Baiting Systems can vary from $800 to $3200 depending on the property.
Termite heat treatment Cost
Termite heat treatment or heat fumigation is the most environment-friendly solution to termites. It is the truly the most organic way you can kill termites in your home, since it uses no chemicals and leaves no chemical residue that might harm plants, animals or yourself after the treatment. Heat fumigation is also an effective of eliminating other house-invading insects like cockroaches, bed bugs and ants.
As with every other termite control method, pest control professionals would first take some time to inspect your home to spot the infested areas. Then, they will guide about the things that need to be removed during the heat treatment and the ones that must be shutdown. Once your house is ready, they will use high-power heater to blow hot wind throughout the invested areas.
These machines are so powerful that they can raise temperature up to 130F for both interior and exterior walls. Even at a considerably lower temperature of 125 F termites can only last 10 minutes. While cockroaches being more resistant to heat are able to survive for 16 minutes.
Termite heat treatment can cost around $2,500 for a 2,500 square-foot home
1 ) Termite cleanup done at a much higher pace.
2) No chemical usage makes it the most environment friendly solution.
1 ) Heat fumigation does not provides any protection for future termite infestations. Other measures need to be taken as precautions.
Frequently Asked Question
do termites fly?
Not all termites can fly, but termite colonies can produce flying termites during a termite swarm. A termite swarm is the season when well-built termite colonies reproduce to create new termite colonies. A swarm usually occurs after a rain event and warm. Nature gives the new-born termites wings, so that they may fly and find themselves a new home. When termites find a new home and mate with their partners. The wings shed off.
Flying-termites are normally confused with flying-ants. You can tell the difference by closely examining their physical appearance. Termite wings are of equal size while ants have unequal wings. And ant antennae bend 90 degrees while termite antennae are straight.
where do termites live?
Termites have many kinds. And their physical appearance, behavior, habitat and survival needs also vary to some extent. Subterranean termites, being the most common live in the soil. The create mud-tubes to travel to food sources.
On other hand, drywood termites like to live in the wood, they’re feasting on. These can include your furniture, wooden-house structures, cardboards or any thing that satisfies their hunger for cellulose.
The third kind is dampwood termites. Although, not so common, these can be found in decaying or wet wood. Dampwood termites are much larger in size compared to other termites. They need a lot of moisture to survive, more than an average home offers. Which is why there colonies are hardly found inside homes.
how long termites live?
Termites are tough insects, considering their colonies get attacked by predators and fungi. But still their overall life span depends on how favorable the climate conditions are. The Queen in a colony, achieves the longest life. Since, everyone in it protects the queen. Studies have found a termite queen can live up to 20 years.
Whereas the soldiers and workers are not that lucky. Both normally live up to 2 years. When required the whole colony puts their life at stake for the queen. The termites save the Queen and the Queen saves the colony. How? By laying 30,000 eggs each day!
why are termites important?
Now, there may have come a time. When you just looked at the sky and asked God, why? Why on Earth would you create termites. Because obviously, it is hard to find a positive side about an insect that costs Billions in reconstruction every year alone in the United States. But when you study nature a bit close, you’ll find that it never allows anything without importance or a contribution to this world.
And the same implies with termites. Termites are insects that are long acknowledged to help speed up the litter decomposition process. These insects also feed on mammalian dung, and help decompose 1/3rd of the mammalian dung on average in the tropics.
do termites like light?
Not all termites are attracted to light. This behavior is only present in swarmers (termites with wings). It is called phototaxis. Phototaxis is defined as the natural movement of an organism when exposed to light, towards or away. Insects that are positively phototactic move closer to light, like moths. But negatively phototactic insects move away from light, e.g: cockroaches. Why does it happen? No one knows for sure. All we have in the name of explanation are some strange theories.
According to one theory, flying-termites use the light from the sky to calibrate their flight. And in a life threatening scenario, they fly towards it (which is upwards). And interpret darkness as going downwards. And when a flying-termite sees you’re porch light it confuses it with the moonlight, flying towards it.
are termites nocturnal?
Termites remain active 24 hours a day. So yes, you can find them feasting on your furniture at night. But unlike pure nocturnal insects, termites also search for food in daylight. Since, termites live in dark places, and use their mud-tubes to travel, it is hard to see them in daylight. Moving away from light is an automatic reaction of an organism known as negative phototaxis. Since this behavior also exits in termites (except swarmers) termites are often described as nocturnal insects.
do termites bite?
Every termite colony consists of three castes: soldiers, workers and the reproductives. The soldiers have the duty to protect the colony against predators like spiders and ants. They do so by using their massive jaws, which are more than capable of biting a human. Termites never bite humans for the sake of curiosity or food, they only do that when you hold them or do damage to their colony.
Although, you may not fret about getting termite bites on your body. You should definitely do something to save your home-structure and furniture. Because they do bite wood and anything that provides cellulose.
can termites make you sick?
Like I mentioned previously, termites don’t usually bite humans. And even when they do, their bites are not toxic. But there are some others reason why termites can directly or indirectly cause health issues. The number health risk with termites is of molds. The problem is that molds and termites grow in the same kind of dark and humid environments. And when termites travel throughout your home, they can actually spread mold particles via air. Which increases the risk of it being landing on food or being inhaled. Molds can cause skin diseases, fungal infections, and can severe mid asthma. Moreover, many people can develop allergies to termites.
Drywood termites, using their strong jaws can damage electrical wiring. Which increases the risk of short circuits and fire.
do termites eat clothes?
Most people know termites as house-eating insects. But believe it or not, there is a long list of stuff that termites can feed on. And clothes are not an exception. The reason behind their eating habits is cellulose. It is the reason why the y eat wood and every other thing on their eating list. Cellulose, is also found in plants like cotton and flax plant – used to make linen fabric. Both as you know, are popular fabrics to make dresses. And can be attacked by termites. So now you know another reason to get rid of termites.
can termites chew through concrete?
Termites can not chew concrete. Their jaws are not strong enough. But do you know, there have been some cases where termites got into the house through concrete slabs? It’s not that termites are good at teleportation. It’s because they are good at finding the tiniest of cracks and squeezing through them. So yes, it is possible for termites to find cracks in concrete slabs and actually crawl up the foundation of your home.