Other indications of termite infestations are pencil-thin mud tubes extending over inside and outside surfaces of foundation walls, piers, sills, floor joists and the like. Also, damaged wood hollowed out along the grain with dried bits or mud or soil lining the feeding galleries.
Often there is no sign of the worker termites that cause damage — small, creamy-white insects with an ant-like appearance. Infestations can remain undetected for years, hidden behind drywall paneling, floor coverings, insulation and other obstructions. Damage to exposed wood isn’t noticeable because the outer surface usually is left intact. It takes the keen eye of an experienced professional to detect termite damage and treat this problem.
Since eliminating termites requires special skills and equipment, it is best to contact a pest control company rather than try to treat for them yourself.
Be sure to take your time when choosing a pest control company. Consider calling two or three companies to request inspections to determine the extent and approximate cost to treat the termite problem. The company should be licensed by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Membership in a state or national pest control or management association indicates an established firm with access to technical and training information necessary to correctly do the job. Always ask for references.
Avoid firms that use “specials” or scare tactics to pressure you into immediately signing a contract. The quality of a termite treatment depends on the individual doing the work, not the person who sells the contract. A safe, effective treatment requires an experienced technician.
The entire structure should be treated, rather than “spot treating” areas where termites are seen. This is because subterranean colonies may contain hundreds of thousands of termites foraging in many different directions. Localized or “spot” treatments generally are a gamble for the homeowner, except when retreating.
Liquids and baits are the two general categories of termite treatment.
A liquid treatment keeps termites out by providing an effective, long-lasting chemical barrier around and beneath the home. Termite baits are installed in plastic stations below ground in the yard and occasionally indoors. Populations gradually decline as foraging termites consume the bait and share it with others in the colony.
Termiticides are extensively tested for adverse effects. Based on current research, registered termiticides applied according to label directions present no significant hazard to humans, pets or the environment.
For more information, contact the Boyle County Cooperative Extension Service at (859) 236-4484.
Jerry Little is Boyle County extension agent for agriculture/natural resources.