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Termite control is a vastly important industry, with these pests causing billions of dollars in damage each year. A termite feeds mostly on wood, but can also get into paper, books, insulation, and other areas of the home. Termites can harm living trees, but they more commonly attack woody plants that are already in decline. Besides the obvious economic damage it causes, an infestation can also be a significant emotional strain. For this reason, termite control is essential. And since it is so complex and difficult a task, getting to these pests and eradicating them from a home is normally a task best left to trained experts in the field.
Termites Start Colonies in Spring
While a termite infestation can happen at any time during the year, colonies often gather in the spring, when the weather is getting warmer and there is plenty of rain. It is during this season that the largest numbers of these winged swarmers get into homes. If you find a winged termite inside your home, it is usually a sign of an infestation and time to call for termite control services. Those you might find that have emerged indoors are best dealt with by simply vacuuming them up. However, it is the ones feeding on the structure of your home that you really have to worry about.
Between the months of March and May especially, these swarmers tend to drop to the ground, pair off with a mate, and attempt to start a new colony in the soil. Relatively few of them emerging outdoors end up surviving. Swarmers that emerge indoors are equally unlikely to survive; even so, their presence points to trouble elsewhere in and around the home. To get the situation under control, you first need to know where they are getting in. And then you have to figure out how to control them or get rid of the colony. The complexity of the job calls for a termite control professional.
Looking for Signs of Infestation
Many people wonder what the signs of infestation might be. There is certainly more than one, but the most obvious is the discovery of winged termites indoors. With this being said, it is crucial not to mistake these pests with ants (which often swarm at the same time of year as the termite population). There are several distinguishing physical characteristics that can help you tell the two apart. Termites have straight antennae, a uniform waist, and wings of all equal size. Winged ants, on the other hand, have antennae that bend in the middle, waists that constrict and longer forewings than hind wings. These differences help to tell the two apart, but if you are still unsure, call a pest and termite control company and find out for sure. Normally there may be a small service call involved, but it can be worth it just in case. You can, of course, also find pictures online to help you judge for yourself. If you find a termite, get a technician over to begin the inspection process.
Another sign that can be helpful is that swarmers are attracted to light, so they are often found around windows and doors. If you find swarmers emerging from tree stumps, wood piles, or other areas outside the home, it is not necessarily cause for concern and not really evidence of a pest control problem. What you need to look out for is a winged termite emerging from the basement or the porch or back deck. These are stronger signs that pest control needs to get involved. Call a termite control professional if you run into these scenarios.
You might detect a termite control issue by noticing earthen tubes about the width of a pencil extending over foundation walls, floor joists, or sill plates. A termite colony will build these tubes to protect them during their travel to and fro between their colonies underground and the inside of the house. If the tubes are broken open and a small type of worker termite found, an active infestation is obvious. However, abandoned mud tubes do not necessarily mean there is no present termite control issue. They may have simply headed to other areas of the home.
Why Professional Eradication is Important
Getting rid of termites in a home requires a specialized set of professional skills. Thorough knowledge and experience is needed to know where to look for the likeliest entry points. Many of these points are hidden and are hard to access. Termite control also uses specialized equipment most people don't own. From masonry drills to soil treatment rods, this equipment helps pest control companies find and root out the termites that may elude us as homeowners. Very typically a treatment to eradicate and control the population involves hundreds of gallons of termiticide (a liquid pesticide) injected along the home's foundation, underneath concrete slabs, or within foundation walls. These access points and materials are not readily accessible to the general public. Of course, small infestations in mailboxes or flower boxes not attached to the house are possible exceptions where the homeowner may be able to buy retail products and eliminate the colony.
Choosing a termite control company can be a complex decision. There are many different companies in most any local area. Any pest control contractor you choose should be licensed by the Department of Agriculture or whatever agency is responsible for regulating this industry in your home state. If you are unsure, you can easily find out online. Membership in the National Pest Management Association or local associations at the state level indicate that a company has access to the training and resources it needs to stay current with its practices and to do the job right. Ask for references from any termite control company you contact. And of course, get multiple estimates to not only get a handle on the cost, but also to compare the different recommendations and plans of attack offered up by each of them.
Different termite control companies will offer different treatments and warranties to deal with your pest control issue. In many cases, they will come back within a certain time frame to retreat the affected area at no extra charge. Make sure this kind of provision is included in your termite control agreement. All liquid termiticides are supposed to last for five years when they are applied properly. The actual length of time these treatments control the termite problem in your home will depend on the thoroughness of the application, the severity of the termite control issue in your area, and other conditions. Normally if swarmers are found the year after you have a company come out, it's because of human error in application and not in failure of the chemicals.
Termiticides are tested thoroughly for any effects they might have on the health of people and animals. Before any chemical can be used, it must be tested and approved by the EPA.
If you suspect you have a problem with termites in your home, seek the help of a professional technician. Use our site to get connected with multiple qualified and licensed termite control specialists in your home area to find out more.
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Resources for Termite Control
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