Contributed by: Doug Webb
Updated on: November 15, 2022
“You have termites in your house." Those are words that no homeowner ever wants to hear. Termites are responsible for over $5 billion in property damage in the U.S. annually, and the average cost of termite treatments and damage repairs is $15,0001.
Though termites can be found throughout the United States, the highest pressure areas tend to be in the South, Southeast, West and Southwest where they thrive in warm climates.
Once you have a termite infestation in your home, it can be incredibly difficult to get rid of termites. Working with a team of trustworthy termite professionals can help you identify areas of termite activity on your property, the species of termites, and the most effective ways to deal with these persistent pests and help reclaim your home from their relentless feeding.
Even if you don't notice signs of termites, that doesn't necessarily mean they aren't there. Termites can be active in your home before you notice them, causing damage to your home and its structure along the way.
Seeking professional assistance to help get rid of termites is crucial to staving off expensive repairs. That's why it's helpful to talk to a Terminix® termite control expert and schedule an annual inspection to guard your home against future termite activity and damage.
Getting rid of termites depends on the type
There are roughly 2,000 different species of termites throughout the world. Fortunately, you won't have to worry about the majority of those species invading your home, if you live in the U.S. For all intents and purposes, there are two types of termites that you need to be concerned with: subterranean termites and drywood termites.
Knowing which type of insect has infested your home is an important part of professional pest control. Once you determine termites have invaded, you must take action in order to minimize the damages these pests can cause if left unchecked.
Enlisting the aid of a termite professional can help you more accurately identify the species of termite at the heart of your infestation. Relying on their knowledge of specific termite behavior can help uncover where these pests are lurking and offer a targeted plan of attack to help halt termites in their tracks.
How to get rid of subterranean termites
As their name suggests, subterranean termites live below ground in colonies. They need soil contact to survive and use tunnels below ground — and mud tubes above ground — to travel into homes in search of food. Their food is the cellulose found in wood that forms your home's structure.
Given the extensive damage that termites can cause, it's ill-advised to attempt to make termite removal a DIY effort, as this practice is rarely effective and the cost of failure can be very expensive.
Professional pest inspectors begin by looking to identify the signs of a subterranean termite infestation, including checking crawl spaces and other areas where your home comes in contact with the ground that you normally would not look.
However, there are some species of subterranean termites, like Formosan termites, that can swarm and land in the upper part of your house where they can establish colonies without soil contact.
The largest Formosan termite colonies can chew through about a pound of wood per day, though most subterranean colonies chew through about one pound every month.
Treatments for subterranean termites
Terminix employs several methods to control a subterranean termite infestation, including:
- Bait stations: Terminix pest control specialist places bait stations at strategic points in or around your home. Termites then carry the bait back to their colonies and spread it to their population.
- Liquid treatment: This involves treating the soil around your home to help prevent subterranean termites from entering your home in the first place.
How to get rid of drywood termites
Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites are a type of termite that do not need soil contact to survive. They live in wood that's above ground, including inside homes. Drywood termites are most common in Florida, California, and Hawaii but they can be found in other states when infested items are brought into homes.
If you spot signs of drywood termites, such as droppings (frass), then you need to act immediately.
Treating a drywood termite infestation can be tricky. There may be more than one infestation site, and these sites can be difficult to find unless you're trained in how to do so. For these reasons, and more, it's necessary to call a termite control professional for a drywood termite inspection and treatment.
One of the treatment methods a Terminix pest control specialist may recommend to help prevent drywood termites if no infestation is found is our Drywood Defend System. This involves an initial inspection to correctly diagnose your termite issue, then creating a preventive treatment zone, pinpointing areas where drywood termites may be able to breach your walls. Finally, the Terminix Drywood Defend System involves setting up annual inspections to check for termites and reinforce the treatment zone, if necessary.
Treatments for drywood termites
Unfortunately, there isn't a lot that you can do on your own to prevent drywood termites from invading your home. Once they've entered, there are no real DIY termite remedies that are effective.
Contrary to popular belief, however, use of fumigants is not always required to effectively treat drywood termites. Rather, it's just one potential solution.
Your pest control specialist will advise you if fumigation is required. If so, you may be required to leave your home for several days in order to treat. However, DIY fumigation is not an option for homeowners, and must be left to professionals who have a deeper understanding of safe and proper use and procedures.
Should I use spray to get rid of termites?
In short, no. DIY methods – such as over-the-counter sprays purchased at your local home goods store – are rarely effective in terms of dealing with a termite infestation.
For starters, termite “spray" is a localized topical application to visible termites. It does not describe a structural treatment with a termiticide and it also does not control an infestation. Termite treatments are performed as a soil and structural treatment and are not sprayed on the insects.
There are two primary types of liquid treatments that can be used to combat termites: repellent and non-repellent. The main difference between the two is that non-repellent materials are virtually undetectable by termites. With repellent materials, if even a small spot is missed during an application, the termites may notice and take advantage of it, finding a new entry point. Terminix only uses non-repellent liquid treatment.
A qualified pest control technician doesn't just have access to the most effective treatments and materials, but they are knowledgeable in terms of proper application to help remedy a termite infestation.
How to prevent termites
Because subterranean termites most often stay hidden, their attack on your home can go undetected. Your best defense is a good offense. It's easiest to get rid of termites if you can avoid them in the first place. There are some things you can do yourself to help prevent termites from infesting your home:
- Keep mulch at least four inches from your home's foundation.
- Make sure your home's siding doesn't extend down to the soil.
- Store firewood away from your home.
- Watch out for any leaks and moisture in and around your home, and have them addressed immediately.
- By following the list above, you will help keep things that attract termites to your home at a minimum.
What is the fastest way to get rid of termites?
If you think you have a termite problem, you probably need professional termite control help. A DIY solution may seem like the fast and affordable way to deal with your termite problem, but it may likely cause more harm than good and wind up costing you more in the long run.
Avoid DIY solutions for getting rid of termites
While do-it-yourself methods for controlling termites may seem appealing, they aren't all they're cracked up to be. Termites are a serious issue, and they require effective control. Keep the following in mind when you consider a DIY solution like a termite spray:
- Effectiveness – As mentioned above, different types of termites may require different treatment methods. Trained professionals will know which species is causing issues in your home and how to combat them.
- Cost – Trying to find the right DIY solution can end up costing you more money in the long run. You'll likely spend more on potential treatment, and you'll lose time in the process, allowing the insects the opportunity to cause more costly property damage.
- Potential Dangers – Any DIY treatment will have to be applied correctly. If it isn't, it may cause certain issues. These methods require training or equipment that homeowners don't have.
- No Guarantee. DIY treatments do not come with a guarantee, so if termites continue to damage the home after the treatment, you will be faced with DIY repairs as well that could be very expensive.
Professionals also know how to spot early signs of termites, which can be difficult for an untrained person. Being able to spot signs of termites is important for effective termite control.
You can't put a price on peace of mind. Take the effective route to get rid of your termites and schedule a free termite inspection with Terminix today.
1Average costs based on the resolution of nationwide Terminix termite damage claims closed from January 1, 2022 through May 31, 2022. Repair and treatment costs may vary. Not all homes qualify for a damage repair guarantee. See Plan for details and limitations.