question on termites

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Hello,
A few days ago, we saw a swarm of winged insects near the edge of the door in the wooden part. Then later, they had carved small cracks in the wood.
Is there any kind of recommended spray/chemical that would get rid of any possible termites living inside of it?
Anything non-toxic would be great.
Also, do you recommend putting termite baits outside the property to repel them? anything else we can do?
And if we do end up calling termite companies, what is a reasonable price for the initial application? I emailed one and got a quote of $600 which seemed really high.
Let me know if you have any ideas. We are newbies to this sort of problem.
Thanks!
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How much is your house worth? Tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars?
Termites could completely destroy your house if you cheap out and try to get rid of them yourself.
$600 to potentially save tens of thousands in repair bills is pretty darn cheap if you ask me.
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On Apr 6, 2:51 pm, snipped-for-privacy@rochester.rr.com wrote:

Not to mention the health problems some of the chemicals can cause, if you can even buy them.
Termites can do a hell of a lot of damage in one season.
RonB
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wrote:

Orkin states: "Termites are surprisingly long-lived insects. Queen termites can live up to fifty years under ideal climate conditions. Workers and soldiers live approximately one to two years."
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They've swarmed. That's a bad, bad sign. By the time you've seen them, they're usually already well-established. Begin looking around for mud tubes. The termites need protection from sunlight and drying out, so they build tunnels from the outside, where the main nest is, to inside, where the wood is.

You need a complete inspection by a professional. Without it, there's no way of telling whether they've gotten into the structural timber. That's bad.

I've been using Spectracide termite stakes for about 5 years after a bad infestation and quotes of $1000 and more to pump the soil around the house full of insecticide by drilling holes in the concrete floor. I demurred.
Once you find the way they are coming in and break up the mud tubes and lay down a double dose of stakes outside, that may be all you need to do. It's all I did. The termites inside die quickly once cut off from their nest.
Like you, I was reluctant to have poison pumped into or around the foundation. The stakes (actually 2" by 8" bait tubes that you put in the ground with a drill they provide) have been remarkably effective. I know because my neighbor, who has a Terminix contract, had a massive infestation last year but I didn't. This year, I doubled the number of stakes I put on that side of the house. (-:

You must be away from a metro area. That's low, compared to what I got quoted around Washington, DC. I think, though, that since it costs them very little to treat an individual home, that many charge what they think you can pay, with no relation to actual costs. You may be able to get some free inspections to show you where the problem is. I didn't need that because I knew what to look for and where after Googling the problem for a few days.

You've got to lock it down quickly and be diligent about putting down new bait traps every year in early March just before they start becoming active again. This is the time of year for swarms - and for pest control advertising.
When I first moved here, on the first warm day of spring, the whole basement filled with the little devils and their fallen-off wings. Didn't know what was happening and nearly fell over when I pulled down the two ceilings the previous owners had erected to conceal the damage. Very serious infestation.
I handled that with Chlordane, an incredibly strong termite killer but now banned by the EPA. I would walk around the house in March each year with a mild solution of Chlordane in a watering can. It was only when that gallon bottle ran out (it lasted nearly 10 years!) that they returned, and that's when I switched to the Spectracide stakes (bought at Home Depot - 40 stakes for under $100).
If you look around your door carefully, I am sure you'll see the little mud tunnels that they build. Lots of times they follow wires stapled to a piece of wood and you have to look with a strong flashlight to see them. Cable TV installers created the path for my neighbor's infestation. The mud tubes ran up the bricks to the hole they had drilled (and NOT puttied!) and inside they followed the along the cable that was stapled to a joist until they reached the main house beam.
Good luck! And get out the caulking gun!
-- Bobby G.
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Robert Green wrote:

Previously, termite treatment, like Chlordane, was "barrier" treatment, kinda like the fence on the Mexican border.
Newer chemicals don't kill or even discourage the termites right away. The workers take the poisoned wood (or their dirty feet) back to the nest and the chemical shortly kills all of the critters, including the queen. So instead of a "fence," you nuke Juarez.
You can get the latest incarnation of these new chemicals, Termidor, on Ebay. You dig a 6" trench around your home, pour in the chemical, and call it good. Other application methods are possible.
Termidor ain't cheap.
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We don't need no steenkin' trenches! (-: Never had to dig with Chlordane. Now I chuck the 2-1/2" dirt auger bit into a cordless drill and I can treat the whole house with Spectracide in a hour. The stakes aren't quite a barrier, but if you ring the house with them, the effect is the same. They work, as you note, like a Trojan horse. The workers wheel the poison into the nest, and it's hasta la vista.
Termite control companies charge my neighbor nearly a thousand dollars a year to lay down far fewer stakes and they are *always* finding termites inside. Today was the first over 90 degree day we've had. I will be checking the basement shortly to see if the stakes have protected me another year. I hope so!
Chlordane got banned by builders dumping 100's of gallons of Chlordane into the foundation hole when building. From there, it entered the aquifier quite easily. It's a potent nerve toxin for humans. Too bad some cowboys screwed it up for the rest of us.

Spectracide costs $100 per year, and I suppose I *could* get away with just 20 stakes for $50. But as they said in Aliens, you gotta nuke 'em. Just to be sure.
I also bury stakes twice as deep as recommended (had to buy a 3' garden auger for that) because I've read that if you surface treat for ants, the poison gets into the ground and the termites dig much deeper than normal to avoid the surface stuff. If they do, they still run into my low-rider termite stakes.
The new bait tubes even have a spring-loaded bright orange, golf-tee shaped indicator so that when they eat the bait, a little flag pops up to let you know there's termite activity. In reality, it more often lets you know that rainwater has gotten into the bait tube and dissolved the poison-impregnated cardboard.
-- Bobby G.
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Robert Green wrote:

Nah, not banned. According to Wikipedia, it's the most widely used wood preservative in the world. When I was a kid, we had a creosote plant down the street. They took, mostly, tree trunks and turned them into telephone poles.
The tree trunks came in on railroad flat cars which went into a GIANT pressure cooker - car and all. After a couple of hours of heat-impregnating with the creosote, a switch engine pulled the flatcar with the finished product out and inserted another. I think they also did railroad ties and piers.
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lora wrote:

First, identify the insects. Termites don't carve cracks, they tunnel and have small, round tubes. They could ENTER through cracks or any other opening like uncaulked joints, plumbing/electrical entries, etc. They look like ants with wings, sort of. If you can take a sample to your local extension service, they can ID and also give you valuable info about treatment. Different kinds of termites require different treatment. This is the time of year that they "swarm" to mate and set up new colonies.
If the house is already infested, you can likely find the areas of infestation. Wood around doors and windows might have hollow sound when tapped, wings shed around windows and doors, mud tubes inside or outside foundation or into plumbing access cavities.
Find a reputable licensed pest control contractor or two and get an inspection. Should be done yearly. Fighting fires and termites should be left to the pro's. Baits are used to control subterranean termites, which may or may not be what you have.
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<stuff snipped>

Good point, which is why I suggested she get a few free inspection. It's my understanding that if you see mud tubes, you've got the subterranean variety.
As for cracks, I've watched termites swarm and they emerge from the wood through holes and slits so tiny they appear to be materializing like magic on the surface. Perhaps that's what the OP was seeing. Termites also dig grooves in wood - could be that as well.
Hiring exterminators, sadly, is no guarantee you're really getting a professional and not some spray happy kid whose last job was as a fry cook at McDonald's. That's why I would recommend talking to more than one company.
FWIW, in Australia, the survivors of last year's horrific brush fires were often the ones that stayed behind to save their own houses. They manned their generator powered pumps that sprayed a constant stream of water on the houses to keep embers from landing and igniting. Many died who decided to evacuate instead, not realizing the fire was all around them.
Sometimes, a professional who is a stranger isn't going to care about you or your possessions the way you would. I've watched enough inspections to know how to do one as thoroughly as a pro. It's not rocket science nor is it as foolish as trying to do a root canal on yourself. It requires no special tools, just a flashlight, a screwdriver and a hammer.
For me, paying $1000 a year to do what I have been doing successfully myself for the last five years for under $100 would be tantamount to setting fire to $900 a year.
I did, however, mail the carcasses of the dead termites to the Agriculture folks because the nationwide head of the extension service is three miles away from here in Beltsville, MD. Once they confirmed that they were subterranean termites, I felt comfortable I was doing the right thing. It's saved me $4,500 so far.
The fact that my neighbor, who is professionally treated, still has termites swarming, bolsters my faith in the stakes and my home treatment plan. YMMV, though. They appear to use the same treatment, but far less bait tubes. Why pay $1000 to get less of something you can do for yourself for $100?
-- Bobby G.
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Robert Green wrote:

likely the OP has damaged wood that was an entry.

Reputable, as in ref. from a neighbor who is long-term customer.

When the house is on fire, you don't run for buckets at the kitchen faucet, ya' get out and call 911.

I can do an inspection more thorough than the pros who have been hired by our condo assn, but the OP was obviously uninformed. Start by knowing the what, how, why so's one can discuss options intelligently. More than one kind of termite, and more than one way to treat IF she actually has termites and not an ant colony.

How could it cost $1000 a year?

Stakes treat subterranean termites, which may or may not be what the OP has. I live in Florida and the blue tents will be going up soon...neighbors on both sides of us have been tented within the past 5 yrs. or so...much newer than our condo. We've been tented twice, before we owned our condo, and the majority of owners in our condo are as complacent as can be...some don't even let the pc inspector in and the board doesn't press.

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Agreed. I was trying to say that the "pre-existing" cracks serve as an escape hatch for the ones that swarm. I've watched them come up from what I thought was a sealed hardwood floor like the were drops of watering passing magically through the tiniest of cracks.
Without pictures from the OP we don't quite know *what* the OP saw except swarming insects. The first thing to do is to pick the leftovers up with clear tape and tape them to an index card to mail to the local ag. extension office to make sure what you have.

Excellent idea. Check the local consumer protection office, if there are any left. They go with the first round of local gov't budget cuts.

Generally good advice, but not always. These people knew that in a large brush fire, there just weren't enough fire protection resources (fireys) to protect their homes. Many decided to learn how to prepare their houses for fires - cutting brush, slate or tin roofing, generators and industrial strength pumps and firefighting grade large diameter hoses to keep the house soaked down. If they had not done that, their houses would have burned.
Aussies are tougher birds than Americans, and are quitely willing to take personal responsibility for things that we leave, sometimes imperfectly, to our governments. Those who had taken preparations not only saved their own houses, but the lives of their neighbors, trapped without a way out as their own unprotected houses burned.
The CFA in Oz is active in training homeowners that choose to stay what they must do to save their homes and to create a safe place to wait out the fire. Calling 911 and running from a burning house in a brushfire proved to be exactly the wrong advice. No one was coming and outside, people quickly perished in firestorm where they might have survived in a low sheltered area in the home like a bathtub or even under a blanket soaked in water. Just like there are different kinds of termites, there are different types of fires and each has a different solution.
The applicability of that lesson to this situation is that even if you hire someone, there's a lot you can do on your own to improve your odds of forcing the termites into your neighbor's house instead of yours. (-:

Oddly enough I was going to post the same speech in regards to advice about NiCads v. Lithium. If the OP didn't even know whether he got a corded or cordless model (I've done the same buying from the web in a different context - not touching the item you're buying has consequences) then getting into the weeds on the many ways NiCads have to die was probably not as helpful as it seemed. Touche!
It's the first law of systems analysis. Obviously overinforming is an easy trap to fall into. Thanks for reminding me and saving me from turning into a hypocrite. I screwed up, but I knew in advance that if I did, someone would be here to help me. (-:
What I really wanted to make sure got across is that it is possible to successfully treat at least some kinds of termite infestation on your own. I believe anyone living where subterranean termites are a threat should lay down stakes every year. They have worked very well for me, and better, it seems, than Terminix who treats my neighbor in a nearly identical house.

I got quotes of $1000 to $1500 for the first treatment but I don't recall the price of the yearly maintenance. I have to admit (again!) you're right that ongoing treatment would probably cost less, but I can't say for sure. If you're unhappy with the first guy, then you'd probably have to start from scratch with a new company.

Yep. That's why I suggested they get at least two pros to come out and give an inspection. They will tell the OP what they have and what their options are. I just wanted to let the OP know that in at least in cases like mine, you can save yourself $100's of dollars - if not thousands - by using stakes. I also told the OP to look for mud tubes. IIRC, only subterranean termites run mud tubes from the outside into the house.
In this current recession, $600 or $1500 or anything like that could easily be outside the reach of a current homeowners. It could be a disservice if it fails to treat the infestation, I realize. But I really believe a person of average intelligence (and I think anyone that posts to AHR is actually above average IQ - most people don't even do basic research) that owns a strong flashlight and a long shank screwdriver can do every bit as well as most of the people pest control companies send out if they do their homework and ask questions as they go along.
-- Bobby G.
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That's a huge maybe.
In MT they came up with a requirement for structures to be inspected and "certified" by a PCO as "termite free" before closing which, of course, sans treatment, is impossible.
I wouldn't do it, but every other PCO did.
They often also failed to remove visible mud tubes after treatment leading any subsequent PCO with evidence of termites, but no termites.
It was also not unusual to be called for a bid where 2 other PCOs had told the HO swarming ants were termites, or get requests for post- treatment inspections the treating PCOs failed to complete after the check cleared.
The scumbags have made termite treatment largely a criminal enterprise and one would be wise to caveat emptor their ass off.
Termites eat slow and breed slow, there is no reason to be in a rush to treat.
Carpenter ants are another story... -----
- gpsman
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clipped

One of many reasons effective insecticides were banned. I've seen people dump bag after bag of poison on the ground when all that was needed was cleanup and repair. CA's often go after termite tunnels and always after damaged wood. Our condo was in crap shap when my husband purchased and the two of us did all the outside work that got rid of CA's....damaged wood siding, dead limbs in hedges, rotted wood fence, leaky roof, etc.
Did the same with fire ants...small amount of bait/poison placed only where they had nests (always along pavers and patios) and that treatment lasted, probably, a year. We did a lot of crawling around on the ground working on broken down sprinkler system, so it was vital to get rid of fire ants.
Too many people overtreat, trying to get rid of non-pest insects. Treating for all the ants in a yard is insane. As long as the normal insects are outdoors, they aren't pests IMO. Some are really beneficial and people don't realize that fact.

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wrote:

If the ants would STAY outside, fine. They don't so they get carpet bombed at least twice a year (and that's not really enough).
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Pumping 500 gallons of Chlordane into new home's foundation hole was inexcusable. It prevented termite damage for years, but at the cost of eliminating reasonable use of the chemical by sane people because so much of it got into the groundwater.
-- Bobby G.
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Robert Green wrote:

Allegedly, barriers must remain undisturbed, so one depends on a day-labor employee of a sub-contractor to mix the stuff right and be SURE to saturate to the right depth around entire perimeter. Then the new HO moves in, plants some stuff or builds a deck and the barrier is disrupted. Oh, and there was probably a ter. colony under the home, inside the perimeter. I kinda' think hell will freeze first :o)
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gpsman wrote: ...

OTOH, there are a whole lot of 'em by the time one sees a nest breakout swarm in all likelihood, plus they've probably been around for several years by then...
--
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Do we even know these insects are termites? The OP didn't say termites, he just assumed they were. There are other insects that swarm and do other nasty things.
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Hello all,
We live in Georgia. The house has a brick front, with hardiplank sides and there is some wood trim near the door. The house has NO basement, just an attic. I saw the swarm near the door and a few hours later, saw a very thin, and long crack. I assume they are termites, although don't know for sure. We are seeing some thin mud pipe outside near the door and also a thin mud pipe inside the house near the door area.
Today, I got some Spectracide foam that says it kills on contact and sprayed it on the thin cracks outside the house. Not sure it will help as I no longer see these termites, only the cracks and mud pipes.
Any ideas for inside the home near the door area where we see the mud pipes? What is suggested here?
I have called Orkin for a free estimate tomorrow.
We just don't want to get ripped off as we are fairly new to termites. We have had other issues like squirrels in the attic and it ended up being expensive so just wanted to gather info from yall...
any recommendations regarding Orkin, Terminix, etc.
Thank you all!
wrote:

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