Sign In to join the community | Help
Build & Remodel

How to Prevent Termite Infestations



Termites cause over 1 Billion dollars in damage to structures every year! There are over 2000 different species of termites and they all want to chow down on your house. So where in the country are termites most prevalent?

As you can see from the map a vast area of the US is subject to termite infestations, so let's take a look at how to spot them and stop them.

The First Step Inspecting Your Home:

Once a month walk around the perimeter of your home and perform a termite inspection.


1. Look for excess moisture, subterranean termites need moisture to survive, they look for and gravitate to moisture. Minimize moisture near the foundation of your house; make sure all areas have good drainage. Repair gutters and downspouts, and make sure all crawl spaces are well ventilated.


3. Look for dirt tunnels or shelter tubes, these are usually ¼ inch in diameter, along the foundation or on any exposed wood, these are termite subways to your wooden structure. Packed soil in cracks or crevices are another sign of termite activity. 

Look for piles of silvery insect wings about ¼ inch long on floors or near windows sills or in spider webs, these are the wings shed by females as they enter your home and start a termite nest.

Look for blistering or peeling paint on exterior wood, this is sign of moisture entering the wood, if moisture can get under the paint so can termites. 


4. Inside look for piles of termite pellets produced by dry wood termites. These will be cylindrical shaped as opposed to round pellets produced by carpenter ants. You will most often find these in concealed locations such as closets and attics


What Does a Flying Termite Look Like?


Winged termites also known as swarmer’s look like flying ants, however their bodies are long and have a uniform width, their wings are long and narrow. Winged termites drop their wings in preparation for mating.

By contrast flying ants have a distinct pinched waist and a bulbous body shape. And their wings are wider and shorter.

If you are unsure whether you have a termite infestation collect some live samples if possible or a few shredded wings take them to your local pest control or county agricultural control board for identification.




Termite Prevention


1. Use pressure treated wood for any deck, storage building or shed constructed on the property, pressure treated lumber contains copper-chromium-arsenic; this is a very serious pesticide and will prevent termite infestations and wood rot caused by fungus. However do not use pressure treated wood for deck surfaces that may be walked on, as the arsenic may transfer to bare feet. Always paint any pressure treated wood exposed to human contact. Keep all wood treated or not from direct contact with the soil.


2. Never stack firewood directly against the side of the house, keep firewood at least 25 feet from any wooden structure. Do not attach wooden trellises direct to the side of the house or build flower boxes up next to exterior walls.


3. Keep all exterior wood well sealed with paint and repair any peeling paint or cracks in the wood promptly.


4. Keep vegetation away from the house, plant all scrubs at last three feet from the house, plants provide moisture to subterranean termites and offer a good launching pad for flying females to enter your home and start a colony. If you have a compost heap, keep it well away from the house or any other structure on the property. Termites love the warm moist environment of a compost heap.




Unfortunately, the most effective termite treatments are no longer available from retail stores and are only available to professional exterminators. However there are products available that will go a long way to help prevent infestations.


For subterranean termites trench around the perimeter of the foundation and treat the soil with a termiticide liquid. Make sure you apply the termiticide to the entire perimeter with no gaps in the coverage; this creates a chemical fence to stop the termites

Termite spikes or injection rods also are available, these contain the pesticide and often have a wood bate to attract the termites who then carry the poison back to the colony.



Inside the house you may use borates to treat bare wood; these are mixed with water and sprayed on the wood creating a barrier to the termites. This treatment is most effective in the attic and the substructure crawl spaces on homes with raised foundations.

Borates are persistent nonvolatile compounds derived from sodium borate, a naturally occurring mineral in the earth, and is used for hand soap and laundry detergent. Exterior wood may be treated with borate prior to painting for an added measure of insect control.


If you discover an infested area treat it promptly and then remove the section of wood as termite larva may still be in the wood even if no activity is apparent, treat the new wood as well.



Some Tips for Effective Termite Prevention:


1. Be vigilant, do monthly inspections of your home’s exterior and look for termite activity, soil tubes or shed wings.


2. Keep all plants at least two feet from the exterior of the house especially near areas with exterior wood.


3. Treat your attic with borates, you can buy borate at your local farm supply, mix it with water and apply it with a pressurized garden sprayer to all the exposed wood in your attic and crawl spaces.


4. Apply window screen to all entrance points on the crawl space and attic, window screen will not interfere with air flow but it will keep flying female termites from entering the space.


5. Seal all gaps or cracks in the exterior walls of your home, this not only will keep out termites but will help make your home weather tight as well.


Termites are a threat, but we can stop them in their tracks, if we keep our homes exterior well maintained.


Mike, The Home Depot Answer Man

Not what you were looking for ? Try posting a question
Posted 2015-07-02T18:18:58+0000  by Mike_HD_OC Mike_HD_OC