Tackling Termites

Tackling Termites

Do you have some wood that appears dried out or rotten? That could be a sign of termite trouble. Before you go to repair or replace any wood that appears rotten, you want to make sure you don’t have termites, and if you do, you want to get rid of the pests before you do repairs.

For starters, don’t dismiss the possibility of termites out of hand. While the classic drywood termite typically lives in warm areas that do not get below freezing in winter, subterranean termites inhabit every state of the Union, and formosan termites enjoy the Southeast. So, make sure to look for these signs of termite infestation:

    • The damaged wood. If some wood appears to be dried out, rotted or hollow, and you can pick at it or puncture it with a tool such as a screwdriver, that could mean termites. If it is a large section of wood, try knocking on it to see if it is not dense, as wood should be.


    • The bugs themselves. Termites look like ants with longer abdomens. The flying termites you often see can either be drywood termites or subterranean termites. Drywood termites live in the wood and often infest a specific area or piece of wood, whereas subterranean termites must live in the ground.


    • Piles of tiny silver wings. If there are little wings left on floors, windowsills or other flat areas near dried out or rotted-appearing wood, that could well mean termites. That said, flying ants also leave these wings behind.


  • Termite poop. Otherwise known as frass, termite droppings are tiny, beige- to brown-colored pellets near a hole or crack in the damaged wood. The termites burrow into the wood, and expel their frass from the nest as they chow down on your timber.

So, you’re positive you have the critters — what do you do to get rid of them? This is a tougher question to answer, because it depends on the severity of the infestation. For instance, if you have a small piece of exterior wood trim that appears to have very localized damage, you might be able to get away with replacing just that wood. But if that wood is connected to other wood on the home, or you find signs of termites on the interior, then you could have a deeper infestation.

The way that termites are professionally treated is typically with chemical extermination, termite bait, or fumigation. There are some do-it-yourself offerings available, but given the possibility of a deep infestation, it usually makes more sense to go with professional exterminators. This can get expensive. Each of the aforementioned solutions can range as high as $2,500.

So, you want to do your homework and get bids from at least three exterminators for whom you’ve received recommendations from friends or neighbors. Make sure each is a member national or state pest control associations and guarantees its work. The termites work slow, which buys your time to do your homework and due diligence when deciding on an exterminator.

Note that some exterminators offer a contracted annual termite control service to detect and prevent any future incursions. You might want to look into this. Each year the pest control company will come to your home to inspect it for termites and abate them as needed