How Often Should You Spray for Termites?

Termites are the ultimate recyclers; they break down wood (cellulose) by eating it. They can feed undetected in studs, sill plates and floor joists. Their twin needs of wood and water keep them close to human habitations and high on homeowners' pest control lists. How long a termite treatment will last depends on the soil type, the previous termiticide used, the quality of the treatment and type of home.

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How Often Should You Spray for Termites?

Effectiveness

There are two application rates for most commercial termiticides. Used correctly, the lesser rate should last three years. The stronger application will last up to five years.

The most expensive, but effective, method is to hire a professional pest control company to tent the whole house to treat it. It should be done every 5 to 10 years.

A house should be inspected regularly to ensure termites haven't found a way back in.

Termite Identification

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Termite tracks in wood.

Know what you are dealing with. Often mistaken for ants, termites are 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch in length and have a head and an oval body; ants have three body parts.

Termites in the colony are white while most ants are dark-colored.

Ants' antennae are elbowed at 90 degrees; termites' are straight

Termite swarmers (new colonists) are often mistaken for flying ants but they lose their wings quickly while ant swarmers keep theirs.

DIY Treatments

Treating your own house saves money, but termites will reappear quickly if it is not done well. It requires a little expertise to calculate the linear feet of your home and determine the amount of chemical needed, but cutting corners courts failure. Common reasons for ineffective treatments include over-diluting the termiticide with water, not getting the insecticide deeply into the footings under the basement and insufficient volume of pesticide used.

Treatments

Create a chemical barrier in the soil around your home with a termiticide and the insects will be repelled or killed. Seal the foundations and use treated foam to fill empty areas to increase the protection.

The newest weapon is bait stations that alert homeowners of termite activity. They also cause termites to carry insecticide back to the colony.

Dampwood Termites

Subterranean termites need moist soil to survive. Treating the soil around your home with termiticides keeps them out and protects your house. Termites find any untreated gaps in the soil. Treat wood and empty spaces under the home with a wood-penetrating material or a wood injecting aerosol to prevent this.

Drywood termites

These insects can survive in very dry climates, including wood. Soil treatments don't affect them. Found in a few states along California and the southern U.S. border, they cause substantial damage. In these areas, a complete treatment must include applying liquid around the exterior to keep termites from getting into the home and treating the wood itself in areas of termite activity.