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Is Termite Control Something I Can Do On My Own?

According to the Agricultural Department at the University of Kentucky, Entomology Departments often receive more calls about termites than any other household insect.

Here are some of the top questions asked by homeowners:

Why worry about termites?  Termites cause billions of dollars in damage yearly by feeding on wood and damaging paper, books, insulation, and even swimming pool liners. Termites can injure living trees and shrubs, but more often are a secondary invader of trees and wooded plants already in decline. While buildings may become infested anytime, termites are particularly important when buying or selling a home. Besides the monetary impact, thousands of winged termites emerging inside your home is an emotionally trying experience.

Why are infestations often discovered during March–May?  Spring is when large numbers of winged termites, known as Swarmers, typically emerge inside homes. In nature, termites swarm to disperse and start new colonies. Triggered by warmer temperatures and rainfall, the winged termites emerge from the colony and fly into the air.

How will I know if my home is infested?  Discovering winged termites indoors almost always indicates an infestation. People often confuse winged termites with ants, which swarm at the same time of year. Termites can be differentiated by their straight antennae, uniform waist, and wings of equal size. (Ants have elbowed antennae, constricted waists, and longer forewings than the hind wings.) The swarmers are attracted to light and are often seen around windows and doors. Termite swarmers emerging from tree stumps, woodpiles, and other locations out in the yard are not necessarily cause for concern and do not necessarily mean the house is infested.

Can I treat the house myself?  Ridding a home of termites requires special skills. Knowledge of building construction is needed to identify the critical areas where termites are likely to enter. Many of these potential points of entry are hidden and difficult to access. Termite control utilizes specialized equipment such as masonry drills, pumps, large-capacity tanks, and soil treatment rods. A typical treatment may involve hundreds of gallons of a liquid pesticide, known as a Termiticide, injected into the ground alongside the foundation, beneath concrete slabs, and within foundation walls. In short, termite treatment is a job for professionals. A possible exception would be if a mailbox post, sandbox, or other small wooden object not attached to the house was infested.

Will the chemicals harm my family or pets?  Termiticides are tested extensively for adverse effects on health. Before a product can be used, numerous studies are conducted by the manufacturer and independently evaluated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Based on current reports, registered Termiticides pose no significant hazard to humans, pets, or the environment when applied according to label directions. Despite the negligible health risk from a correctly performed termite treatment, people with lingering concerns should consult their physician.

Have I been “cheated” if termites continue to infest my house after treatment?   Not necessarily. Termite control involves living creatures, unlike other services such as plumbing or electrical work. The best treatments performed by knowledgeable firms may fail at times when termites find their way through tiny, untreated gaps in the soil. While the intent is to establish a continuous, impenetrable chemical barrier, this is impossible to achieve in actual practice. The key is to hire a reputable pest control company employing experienced, conscientious technicians.

Learn more about the ABC Pest Control Policy or read our last Termite Blog!

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