Do-It-Yourself Termite Control
Though homeowners may be able to initially detect the presence of termites when they see evidence of fecal pellets or mud tunnels, determining the true extent of an infestation is most effectively done by professionals. If you believe you have a firm understanding of the scope of an infestation however, there are a few spot treatment options homeowners can employ. Since each of the three major termite types differ in their diet and behavior, it is critical for homeowners to first identify which kind of termite is present. Only once that has been determined should do-it-yourself steps toward eradication be taken. The most common termite treatment options for homeowners fall under two categories: termiticides, and baits.
Termiticides such as Bora-Care are popular chemical products available to the public that when applied or injected into infested wood attack and kill termites, ideally wiping out entire nests, or galleries, of termites. These products are most effective when the infestation is contained to a small, known area, so again, it is important for homeowners to first determine the size and scope of an infestation. Termiticides are the faster and more economical of the two do-it-yourself solutions, but must be handled with care and are best employed by experienced professionals. Studies have shown the best termiticides are non-repellant, meaning termites are unaware they are being slowly poisoned and thus interact with their colony as usual, hopefully spreading the fatal termiticide to the entire population.
Termite baits, the second of the two do-it-yourself solutions, are made when slow-acting toxicants lethal to termites are mixed in with a collection of paper, cardboard, or other termite food sources. Designed to suppress and eliminate colonies, baits are laid in the vicinity of existing infestations. Worker termites, thinking the bait is food, will consume it and bring portions of it back to the colony. The toxicant will then slowly poison those who come in contact with it, eventually, in theory, killing the entire colony. Baits become more effective when paired with prebaiting stations, which are cartridges or monitors placed in the soil that detect the presence of termites before an infestation become a problem. Bait systems are the more environmentally friendly of the two home solutions, but do-it-yourself baits do not have a strong track record of success.
While these do-it-yourself solutions can prove effective when used properly to target isolated infestations, in the event of a large scale infestation the only real option is to bring in a pest control professional. If your home does not yet have an infestation though, there are a large number of preventative actions homeowners can take to protect their home from termites.
The surest way to prevent future infestations is to practice sound building techniques during the construction and maintenance of your home. Here are a few best practices to follow in and around your home:
- Use concrete supports for all deck posts, reducing all direct ground to wood contact.
- Ensure all wooden siding is at least six inches above the ground.
- Seal all leaky plumbing fixtures.
- Regularly clean gutters
- Move all loose wood or mulch away from the areas surrounding the home.
- Adjust the grade of dirt around the house so excess water is sloped away from the foundation.
These do-it-yourself preventative practices do not guarantee a termite-free home, but will help ensure that in the event of an infestation, homeowners or pest control professionals can more easily locate the infestation and take steps to eradicate it.