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Termite FAQ’s

1. Our neighbors have termites in their
house; will we get them in ours?

2. Why do the pest control companies have to drill inside my
house?

3. What termiticide is the best?
4. Are baits better or worse than conventional termiticide
treatments to soil?

5. My neighbors have termites in their house, should we get our
house inspected?

6. Can I treat my house for termites myself?
7. My house is less than one year old, why do I have termites?
8. Our house was treated just a few years ago. Why do we have
termites again?

9. How can I tell if the pest control company did a good job of
pre-treating my house?

10. Which pest control company is the best? How do I choose
one?

11. I have termites in my home, what do I do?
12. How do I tell the difference between termites and ants?
13. If I put mulch in the flowerbeds around my house, will
this attract termites?

14. How do I know if I actually have termites in my house?
15. About how much does it cost to treat for termites?
16. How can I tell what kind of concrete slab I have so I can
tell the PCO what we are dealing with?

17. Do we have Formosan termites in New Mexico?
18. Do the bait stations available at home and garden stores
actually work?

19. Annual Renewal…do I need to keep up the contract every
year?

20. Are the chemicals this company wants to use inside my
house dangerous?

 

1. Our neighbors have termites in their
house; will we get them in ours?

There is no guarantee that a house will or will not get termites. Termites are all around us in the soil. Here in Albuquerque, we experience moderate pressure, particularly on the west side.  They convert thousands of pounds of dead trees and other forms of cellulose to organic matter each year. They are constantly foraging for food sources. They do not intentionally set out
to destroy your house; they just see it as another food source. If your home has not been treated and they are in your neighbor’s house, chances are they will eventually run into yours.

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2. Does the pest control company have to drill inside my
house?

The Termidor label fortunately gives us (the PMP’s) the flexibility to decide on a case by case basis on where to make interior applications.

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3. What termiticide is the best?

There are many products on the market today that are labeled for termite treatments. The newer non-repellent termiticides such as Termidor, are having great results.  No matter what termiticide is used, the key to getting a good application is coverage and obtaining a continuous barrier. Ask the PMP what termiticide they will be using and to provide you with a copy of the label. Read the label and ask questions. If you have a particular termiticide you want applied to your home, ask if they can provide that termiticide. Some of the newer termiticides are more expensive than the older products. If these are used, expect the price to be a little higher. For example, lets say a house needs 350 gallons of solution for a complete termiticide treatment. Termiticide “A” is used and must be mixed at 2 gallons of concentrate in 98 gallons of water = 100 gallons of solution, you would need 7 gallons of concentrate. At $55.00/gallon, the termiticide cost would be $385.00. If another termiticide, “B” must be mixed at 78 oz of concentrate and enough water to make 100 gallons and costs $170.00 per 78 oz container, you would need 3 ½ containers of concentrate at $170.00 per container. The termiticide cost would be $595.00 an increase of $210.00 or 36% in termiticide costs only. Please note that labor and a company’s overhead would not be included in these estimates.

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4. Are baits better or worse than conventional termiticide
treatments to soil?

If installed, monitored and maintained correctly, baits can be used as another tool to control termites. Whether or not they work better than liquid treatments to soil, is hard to say. Liquid treatments to soil are used to kill termites quickly and to create a barrier to prevent entry or reentry into a structure. Liquid termiticides give quicker results,than baits, even when compared with the newer non-repellent termiticides that are available. Baits on the other hand, can take from a few months to 1 or 2 years to control termites. It depends on how long it takes the termites
to find the bait stations.

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5. My neighbors have termites in their house, should we get
our house inspected?

If your neighbors’ house has termites, it does not mean your house will have them. Your house may be at risk, and an inspection can be made for a modest cost so it is probably a good idea to have your home inspected periodically.

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6. Can I treat my house for termites myself?

Legally yes, but total gallons of solution required to properly treat an average size structure can easily be 100, 200, or even 400 gallons. Unless you have the proper equipment, properly treating your home could be difficult and time consuming. In addition, the termiticides available to the homeowner for termite treatments are limited, and if bought retail, they may be expensive. Therefore, unless you are experienced and have the proper equipment, it is best to let a pest management professional treat the structure.

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7. My house is less than one year old, why do I have
termites?

Many houses have remained termite free for years while some new houses get termites in just a few weeks or months. If your house was pretreated and you have a termite infestation in less than 1 year, it is possible that during construction your home did not get a continuous termiticide barrier around and under it. Also, the termiticide barrier may have been disturbed in some way such as planting shrubs around the foundation or adding sidewalks or patios after the final grade treatment.

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8. Our house was treated just a few years ago. Why do we have
termites again?

If used correctly, most termiticides, should give control for at least 5 years. If the house was not treated properly or the treated barrier around the house was disturbed, this could leave a pathway to the structure. Termites foraging in the soil will find the weakest spots in a barrier, and eventually penetrate to the house. If you are still under contract with a pest control company, give them a call and let them evaluate the problem. One thing to remember is always read the contract and make sure that you do not do anything to void the warranty, such as new construction, woodpiles near the house, or changing the grade of the soil outside the foundation.

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9. How can I tell if the pest control company did a good job
of pre-treating my house?

Other than drilling through the concrete slab, pulling a soil sample and having the sample analyzed for termiticide residues, there is no good easy way to tell if your house was properly pretreated. If your house has a termite infestation, and it is just a few years old, that might be an indication that it was improperly pretreated for termites, but this is difficult to determine.

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10. Which pest control company is the best? How do I choose
one?

The first thing to do as soon as you realize you have termites is to call several local pest control companies and collect information on services provided, and their costs. Read contracts carefully and ask about anything you do not understand. It is likely you will find some significant differences in price and treatment options. Have a representative of each company assess and estimate the cost to treat your house. Note what equipment they brought with them to do the inspection. Did they have a flashlight, a screwdriver or probe of some sort? Did they have a moisture meter, and did they know how to use it? Did they do a thorough inspection and draw a graph of your house? What are the renewal options of the contract and what conditions would void the warranty? The Better Business Bureau may be able to provide information on complaints they have received concerning a company. 

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11. I have termites in my home, what do I do?

First, do not panic. Although termites can do severe damage, they work very slowly. Your house will not collapse overnight. If your house has been treated in the past five years, call the company that did the treatment. If your house has never been treated, call some local pest control companies and get estimates for their termite control services. These companies can inspect your house and determine whether you actually have termites, and can provide proper treatments.

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12. How do I tell the difference between termites and ants?

Physical differences between the two groups are often subtle, but there are characters that easily distinguish the two groups. The main differences between ants and termites are ants have a constriction of the abdomen between the thorax and the rest of the abdomen while termites are broadly joined between the thorax and abdomen. In other words, ants have a narrow or pinched waist and termites do not. The front and hind wings of termites are approximately equal in size while the hind wings of ants are much smaller than their front wings. The antennae of ants
are elbowed after the first two segments. Termite antennae are not elbowed but appear like a string of beads.

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13. If I put wood chips or mulch in the flowerbeds around my
house, will this attract termites?

Any source of cellulose would be attractive to termites. Damp conditions under layers of mulch are ideal habitat for termites. Landscape mulch should be used sparingly and care should be taken not to place mulch against wood siding, window sills or door thresholds.

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14. How do I know if I actually have termites in my house?

Swarming termites inside your house are a sure sign. Window sills and door frames should be checked for damage. Mud tubes on walls, along baseboards or in cracks and crevices indicate termites. It may be necessary to open small holes in sheetrock to see termite tubes on wall studs.

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15. About how much does it cost to treat for termites?

This varies with each PMP.  In question 4, the termiticide costs could easily be around $500. If a pest control company quotes you a price of $800 to $1500 for a whole house treatment, this may or may not be reasonable based on the size of your house. A larger house costs more to treat. Proper treatment of an average size house can range from five or six hundred, up to $2,000.00.

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16. How can I tell what kind of concrete slab I have so I
can tell the PCO what we are dealing with?

In New Mexico there are at least three basic types of slabs found in most construction. These types are sometimes modified to fit builders needs. They are floating, supported, and monolithic. Floating slabs are poured entirely inside the stem walls and actually “float” on the soil surface. Usually if you pull up a threshold plate, (the bottom part of an exterior door frame) you can find the joint or seam between the slab and the stem wall. If you do not find a joint under the threshold, you could have one of the other three. A monolithic slab is poured all at once; the footing, stem wall and horizontal slab are one continuous pour. A supported slab is a horizontal pad that is wholly or partially supported by the stem wall. Sometimes you can see the joint on the outside of the stem wall if it is not covered up by a brick veneer or other siding. One way to determine if it is monolithic is to dig down the outside stem wall to the footing. If you find a seam between the stem wall and footing, you do not have a true monolithic slab and you have some kind of a supported foundation.

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17. Do we have Formosan termites in New Mexico?

Currently, Formosan termites have not been found in New Mexico. They have been found in Texas north of Dallas and may someday reach New Mexico.  Formosan termites are easily transported by commerce in flowerpots, landscape plants and inside landscape timbers, especially old railroad ties.

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18. Do the bait stations available at home and garden stores
actually work?

The bait stations available to the homeowner do kill termites. Unless they are maintained and serviced similar to professional baiting systems,  dead termites will collect around the stations and repel other termites. Also, if termites consume all the bait, they will abandon the station and move on to other food sources.

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19. Annual Renewal…do I need to keep up the contract every
year?

The pest control company must give you a one year warranty. The warranty is one of the most important parts of your termite contract. After the initial one year period, you and the pest control company usually have the option to extend this for one or more years through annual renewals. By keeping your renewal up-to-date, you extend the time limits that a pest control company should assume responsibility for continued termite activity. You should compare the warranties offered by different companies carefully before choosing to renew or choosing a pest control company.

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20. Are the chemicals used in termite control dangerous?

Most termiticides should be considered dangerous. Presently, all of the liquid termiticides carry a signal word of warning or caution on the label. Warning signals that the product is moderately toxic and caution indicates the product is slightly toxic. Termiticides, like most pesticides, when used correctly can be applied safely and without undue risk to the homeowner. Most
termiticides are applied into the soil, under slabs and around the foundations of structures.  Altriset from BASF does not have a signal word on its label because of the favorable results of acute toxicity studies conducted on the formulation. The label also says that when used as directed, and does not present a hazard to humans or domestic animals. See Altriset.com for more details.

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Additional links for reference

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture by Mike Potter, Extension Entomologist
http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef604.asp

Termite Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)- Utah Department of Agriculture
http://ag.utah.gov/divisions/plant/termites/faq.html

Termidor Home Page (BASF)- Termidorhome.com
http://termidorhome.com Altriset Home Page (BASF)- Altriset.com
http://altriset.com