How Can I Prevent Termites From Entering My Home?

How can I prevent termites from entering my home? Have the soil pretreated before the house is built to prevent termites. Everyone knows just how destructive termites can be to a home. But what can we do...

Everyone knows just how destructive termites can be to a home. But what can we do to prevent the termites from ever being a problem?

Stoy Hedges, an entomologist and Director of Technical Services for Terminix International, shares some insights on termite control, "Termites live in the soil. They feed on dead wood, which falls from trees, and tree leaves. We come in and clear out the wooded area. Our recommendation is to have the soil pretreated before the house is built. If you haven't had your home pretreated, they will find their way into the house. Having your home inspected on a regular basis, even if you do not have termites, is a good idea to catch them when it is early."

Besides treating the soil prior to building a house, look at other options to head off termite trouble.

According to the University of California's Integrated Pest Management Program website,, "Keep all substructural wood at least 12 inches above the soil beneath the building. Stucco siding that reaches the ground promotes termite infestations. Keep attic and foundation areas well ventilated and dry. Use screening over attic vents and seal other openings, such as knotholes and cracks, to discourage the entry of winged drywood termites. Reduce chances of infestation by removing or protecting any wood in contact with the soil."

The UC-IPM also recommends foundation sand barriers for subterranean termite control. "Sand with particle sizes in the range of 10 to 16 mesh is used to replace soil around the foundation of a building and sometimes in the crawl space. Subterranean termites are unable to construct their tunnels through the sand and therefore cannot invade wooden structures resting on the foundation."

Another important step while building your home, to avoid termites is to use the right kinds of wood. Douglas fir is a common building lumber, and is moderately resistant to termites. Also, strongly consider the use of chemically treated lumber to repel termite infestations.

What if you have termites? Hedges says, "If you do have termites, then you can select a pest control company that has a really good guarantee, and they can give you options. We [Terminix] have two options. One is a liquid treatment. We treat the soil around the structure. The termites travel through this soil. The other option is to use insulation or termite baiting systems. Severe colony suppression or even colony elimination, can take place. So it may take a long time for the termites to return. Termite baiting is somewhat more expensive because we have to come back every three months or so and check the bait stations. We offer regular ongoing service; whereas the liquid treatment is a one-time treatment."

These processes are best managed by professionals. As the UC-IPM website states, "Applications in the wrong place can cause insecticide contamination of heating ducts, radiant heat pipes, or plumbing used for water or sewage under the treated building. Soil-type, weather, and application techniques influence the mobility of insecticides in the soil; soil-applied insecticides must not leach through the soil profile to contaminate groundwater."

If termites have already taken a bite out of your home, contact a professional. This is not a do-it-yourself type of job.

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