Termites. The very words sends shiver down many a homeowner's spine. These little insects can wreak havoc in your home by causing major structural damage to any part of your house that is made of wood. Termites break down dead trees and other plant material into substances that are useful for plant growth, and they nest in the ground and dig into wood such as fallen trees and stumps. Even though they can be beneficial to the environment, they obviously aren't good to have in your home. They can get into your house through cracks in the structure or where the building comes into contact with the ground. Amazingly, they can get through cracks as narrow as 1/64 of an inch. What's most worrisome for homeowners is that termite damage usually is not covered in home owners' insurance.
If you suspect that you might have a termite infestation on your hands, check for your house for wood that sounds hollow when you tap it, mud tubes made of soil outside of your house (through which termites burrow in exterior walls, beams and crawl spaces), termite fecal material, and shed-off termite wings. If you see one or more of these in your house, it's likely that termites have set up shop.
If you've determined that you do indeed have termites, there are a couple of ways that you can get rid of them. You could try treating them yourself. However, treating termites on your own can be a long and involved process because most people don't have the large and expensive pressure sprayers that professional pest control companies use. To treat a house, you'll need anywhere from requires 80 and 200 gallons (303 and 757 liters) of termiticide. A pest control professional might have a 100 gallon (378 liters) pressure sprayer on hand to treat termites quickly, but you might only have a five gallon (18 liter) bucket.
Obviously, it's going to you a lot longer than a professional to treat the infestation, but it can be done. Use a trench tool or pick ax to dig a six by six-inch (15 by 15 centimeter) trench around the foundation of your structure. For every 10 feet (3 meters) of trench, pour four gallons (15 liters) of termiticide into the trench.
If this is too much bother or if your do-it-yourself treatment doesn't seem to be working, it's best to call a professional. Your home is your biggest investment, and it's worth the money to have a professional work to protect it. Professional pest control experts will treat wood with termiticide, repellant, borate wood treatment, soil treatment or a combination of all of these methods to kill termites and to build a protective barrier to keep them away for years to come.
Prevention, in the case of termites, is surely better than cure. To keep them from getting inside your house, eliminate moisture since termites need moisture to survive. Check your home for structural leaks and cracks so that moisture doesn't seep inside. Also, make sure to clean your gutters and maintain your roof to eliminate potential water problems.