The Most Important Steps In Termite Control

Any type of extermination is part of control. In other words, extermination is done to control, minimize, or eliminate damage to structures done by them. However, control is not a part of extermination. For instance, preventing infestation on exposed wood in an attic when there are no termites is a type of control. However, no termites are being exterminated, and therefore it is not a type of extermination.

Drywood Termites which also includes dampwood termites (Drywoods) and Subterranean Termites which includes Western Subterranean Termites and Formosan Termites (Subterraneans) are the main topic of this articles and below will be mentioned as “Drywoods” and “Subterraneans”.

There are several types of control.

1. Complete extermination
This is usually done by a professional company that exterminates all drywood and/or Subterraneans

present or deemed to be present. An example of complete extermination is fumigation, when the entire structure is covered and Vikane or Zythor (sulfur fluoride) termiticide is exposed to all wooden components and anything else made of cellulose in the structure.

2. Partial extermination
This is when there is no assurance that all termites in a structure are being exterminated. There are three types of partial extermination:

a) Localized treatments, where partial extermination is directed only after traces of infestation are detected locally or in any adjacent areas.

b) Limited treatments directed at part of the structure. This is when, in addition to the above, some other areas are also treated even where a visual inspection reveals no traces of termites.

c) Limited treatments directed at the entire structure are carried out when treatments extend beyond localized treatments to all other areas that are possible to treat.

An example of this is when, in addition to localized treatments, all exterior boxes of the house, partition walls, attic, subareas, and garages are treated as well.

It is also possible that any of these partial extermination treatments will also be a complete extermination. This will be the case if no termites are left in untreated areas, which is very unlikely, especially during localized treatments. Also, in many types of treatments there is no assurance that even if the detected termites are treated, all of them will be exterminated in that area due to the different effectiveness of drywood and subterranean treatments. It is very unlikely that during localized treatments all termites will be exterminated; however, during limited treatments directed at the entire structure, in which there are only a few areas which cannot be treated, it is possible that all termites in the structure will be exterminated, provided the untreated areas not treated are not infested. This is why even in these types of treatments warranties similar to complete extermination, combined with complete prevention, may be given.

3. Visual and other types of inspections and visual control is another part of overall control.
Obviously, a major concern relating to infestation is the damage they cause by consuming the wood in structures. This is why visual and other types of inspections, such as inspecting with detection equipment, are very important to control damage. Visual and other types of inspection are the most effective type of control. To ensure the structure is not suffering any or severe damage, the structure must be checked visually.

Fumigation, Orange Oil, Boracare Foaming, Timbor Foaming, Termidor Barrier, Thermigation, or Control by Heat, Electrocution, Microwave Technology, Freezing by Liquid Nitrogen and other sophisticated control treatments are not as important as merely constantly checking and inspecting the structures.

For instance, a limited inspection may be done in a structure, and a structure may be fumigated. Even if the fumigation was completely successful and eliminated all drywoods, it could happen that there is another, much more severe, type of infestation such as infestation by subterraneans which was not found due to limited inspection. The consequence of this is that the structure might end up being destroyed even after the complete drywood extermination.

Or another example: let us assume there is a house that is inspected every year by a licensed and professional wood destroying control company. For the next five consecutive years only a few drywood infestations are found. Some of them disappear since colonies die, and others appear within years. However, due to some factors related mainly to the age of the wood and climate, none of these drywood infestations manage to cause considerable damage to the house. The company that inspects this property does no treatment, but only inspects and makes sure there is no significant damage to the property.

Let us now assume another scenario: an owner knowing that fumigation does a complete extermination calls a WDO company and asks it to fumigate his house without checking anything. After the fumigation, the house is not inspected for the next 10 years.

So, in the first scenario, even though there was a constant drywood infestation, it was being controlled and no significant damage was being done to the house. Also, the house was being checked against subterraneans, fungus, and other wood-destroying pests and organisms by ensuring that no other type of damage was occurring in the house. Meanwhile, in the second scenario, while the fumigation was successful and exterminated all drywoods, drywood infestation reached the same level as it had before fumigation within 5-6 years. This is because for this house drywood infestation expansion happened very fast compared to the other house. This is mainly related to the year in which the house was built and its location. So, after five years, drywoods started causing severe damage many times faster than at the second house. This means the house incurred severe structural damage from drywoods after just five years of the fumigation date. Also, this house had subterraneans, fungus, and other types of wood-destroying organisms, such as powder post beetles, which were present at the time it was fumigated without a thorough inspection.

As a result, even though the first house received no treatment but was constantly being checked, it remained in excellent condition, while the second house incurred structural damage not only by drywoods, but also by other types of wood-destroying organisms, even though a complete extermination was done.

These are extreme examples; however, in practice, all structures are somewhere in between.

This is why, according to formal recommendations, structures need to be inspected every year regardless what type of treatment has been done. Treatments may not only be more or less effective with different types of other wood-destroying organisms’ warranties which need to be checked, but also many other problems may arise, sometimes causing severe damage within a short period after any type of treatment and repairs.

Wood destroying organisms’ inspections may also be combined with detection tools to increase their effectiveness.

4. Prevention is the next major element of overall control.
This is when certain preventive measures are taken on part or the whole structure to prevent drywood and/or subterranean infestations.

There are two main types of prevention:

a) Prevention by limiting or completely blocking termite access to all or part of the wooden parts of a structure.

b) Eliminating or decreasing subterranean or drywood infestation near the structure to reduce the chances of them attacking it. How drywood or subterraneans access structures is directly related to this. Drywoods access structures by swarm, which means they fly from one piece of wood to another. Termites can fly from one wooden part of a structure to another; however, they start infesting the structure by initially flying from outside. Not all drywoods outside the structure are able to infest the structure, only those close enough. The reason is that drywoods cannot usually fly more than 50 feet with a good wind to assist them. In the absence of wind, drywoods usually cannot fly more than 15-20 feet. So, preventative measures can be made to decrease or eliminate drywood termite infestation in nearby areas. Such measures as inspecting, trimming nearby trees, painting or spraying wooden fences with wood preservative, talking with neighbors so they will also conduct drywood termite control, and other measures can help tremendously.

To decrease or eliminate subterranean infestation near a structure, understanding how subterraneans access structures is necessary. The most effective measure for this is applying a liquid Termidor barrier along the exterior perimeter of the structure. Other measures, such as installing and servicing baiting stations, removing old tree stumps, eliminating moisture conditions near structures and sub-areas, removing cellulose debris, and many others can help decrease and eliminate subterranean termite infestations near a structure.

Thus, control is an important part of wood-destroying organisms control. Three methods of control are: complete or partial extermination of drywood and subterraneans, visual and other types of regular inspections, and prevention.

The importance of each method as well as which method or methods can be used for better control depend on inspection results, structures, and their location due to the possibility of drywood termite infestation and its future expansion and the possibility of subterranean termite infestation and its future expansion.