termite1In nature, subterranean termites are beneficial. They break down dead trees and other wood materials into humus, which is an integral part of soil. They are only a problem when they invade structures. We recommend treatment when termites begin to enter structures or if a problem is likely to develop in the future (called a “conducive condition”). The product is applied in the soil from where termites come. Termites found in your yard typically do not require treatment. If we do find signs of active termites we recommend that you have them treated within 6 months or so to avoid further damage to the structure. We do not use scare tactics to motivate you to have a service you do not need. Realistically, very few houses are seriously damaged due to termites.

For termites we use the environmentally friendly product called Altriset. It’s the first and only termiticide in which the EPA has waved the signal word requirement (meaning there is no warning label at all). The toxicity is so low that the technician is not even required to wear protective clothing during application. It does not off-gas, have an odor or move in the soil. It targets termites specifically and has practically no impact on beneficials such as earthworms and honey bees. It stops termite feeding within hours after treatment. Altriset very effective exterminates the termites in the treated area and lasts for at least nine years.

One common sign of termites is the appearance of swarming winged reproductive termites, usually in the spring. Another is the presence of mud tubes going up the slab around the exterior of the home or the piers under the house. Sometimes the mud comes out of a hole in sheetrock inside the house. You may see frass (debris or excrement produced by insects) that looks like coffee grounds or dirt which is different than wood destroying ant frass (which looks like sawdust, insulation, etc). Termites eat wood, whereas wood destroying ants tunnel in wood. You can easily view the difference between termites and wood destroying ants online.

Preventive recommendations: Keep area where the foundation meets the slab visible at all time (do not cover it up with mulch, soil, etc). Don’t pile wood up next to your house. For a pier and beam house, there are techniques to prevent the termites from crawling up the piers. You may do an inspection for termites yourself simply by walking around your house to check for mud tunnels. Common entry points would be over the slab, any plumbing entries or a crack in the slab under the house. As termites must have access to moisture, unless you have a leak, that mud tunnel is necessary for them to survive, as it gives them access to the ground, thus moisture. If you have a leak, once they are in there they do not have to have access to the ground so the mud tunnel may not be present. Generally, inspectors do not drill holes to inspect plumbing entries. Evidence in such entries is indicated by discolorations or soft spots or irregularities in the sheet rock.