Developing a war plan in the battle against termites
Termites, left to their own devices, can chow down to the point of doing huge amounts of structural damage to a home.
"In fact, the damage may get to the point that you might have to actually destroy the house and rebuild a new one; it has happened," said Brad Kard, structural and urban entomologist with Oklahoma State University's Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
Typically, homeowners will notice a termite problem before it reaches such extreme levels. However, what steps should a homeowner take to rid the problem of termites once they are inside the structure?
"For a reasonable cost, many local pest management professionals (PMPs) will inspect your home to determine the extent of an infestation, and develop a termite management plan," Kard said. "Their experience and expertise is of benefit to the homeowner, and a thorough inspection and management plan is invaluable."
Different companies will offer different solutions and prices for certain services.
Kard warns against picking a pest management professional simply because their price is the lowest. In choosing the proper company, he recommends considering which is the most professional, treats customers with respect and conducted the most thorough inspection and diagramming of your home, indicating the location of termites and termite-conducive conditions such as dampness and water leaks.
Once the proper professional has been hired for the job, there will be a few options to consider. The two main ways of treating termites are employing liquid insecticides applications known as termiticides to the soil around the house perimeter or employing an in-ground baiting system.
"Termiticides provide immediate results but require an insecticide to be placed completely around your home," Kard said. "Baits require more time to work as foraging termites must find the bait stations and consume the bait. However, baits require less insecticidal ingredient."
Both choices are relatively close in cost and are proven to be effective. However, sometimes even the best strategies and treatments do not solve a termite infestation problem, as no strategy or product has been demonstrated to work 100 percent of the time.
"Often, there is no one strategy that is going to completely solve a termite infestation problem," Kard said. "Success is achieved with a cooperative effort between the pest management professional and the homeowner."
A termite-free home will not happen if a homeowner feels like his or her job is complete once a pest management professional has provided an initial treatment.
Kard said that it is the homeowner's responsibility to remove any habitats and conducive conditions that will allow termites to thrive around the house, by ensuring that water drains away from the house, wood debris is removed and any type of wood-to-soil contact is eliminated.
"With proper sanitation and water management practices, thorough inspections and the choice of several effective termite management products, the problem can be solved in all but the most insidious infestations and structural problems," Kard said. "There is no need to panic. Just assess the problem, decide on a plan and be persistent in implementing your long-term war on termites."