Termites – we got ’em

Last week we looked in the backyard and noticed this quivering mass of something on the ground. Upon closer inspection, termites. Swarming. Didn’t last long tho… the birds came and picked them off.

Of course, I called our exterminator. They scheduled their termite guy to come out today.

Meantime yesterday, Oldest reported he saw them again in the same area yesterday.

There’s no question, we have termites. In fact, just about everyone in Texas does… they’re everywhere, you can’t escape them. The trick is tho, we don’t appear to have any structural damage to the house. There are no dirt tunnels up the side of the house. We have a slab foundation and it’s fairly high off the ground, so it’d be obvious if we did. We do get monthly exterminator exterior spray to mind for things like scorpions or other bugs, so that helps.

The question at this point tho is… should we get a preventative, like in-ground baits or Termidor.

It’s expensive.

Repairing your house is more expensive.

As I read up on Termidor, it seems amazingly effective. But that same effectiveness is also a source of concern. Toxicity. I read that it is highly toxic to bees, to aquatic life. Upland game birds too, tho oddly not waterfowl. I even read one thing that specifically said it’s non-toxic to mallards… but what about muscovy? Doubt I’ll get any direct info there. Still, I’d hate if any of the ducks died because of this treatment. Plus think about it… it sits in the ground for 10-12 years churning out its effective poison. While that sounds great from a termite control perspective, that also means this potent poison is in the ground… and what sort of impact will that have on our groundwater and aquifers? I don’t know, but I wonder.

It seems like it’s almost one of those “too good to be true” sorts of solutions, which means it probably is….

So the bait system. It seems less ideal in a way, because some studies I read on the Termidor is that it can’t be detected so the termites don’t avoid it, thus colony destruction is pretty quick therefore making the window between treatment and destruction rather narrow. With a bait system, they have to find the bait then take it, and who knows how long that could be. So you potentially have a larger window of opportunity for destruction to still happen. In mentioning this to Karl, he said he’s used baits and likes the added benefit that someone comes around every 3 months to inspect things, instead of 10+ years and hoping it’s still working. There’s a good point to that.

Then there’s money. Termidor is a huge expense up front. Baits are a lesser expense, but constant treatment. Over the lifetime of things it’ll probably add up to about the same amount of money spent, but I think bait ends up being cheaper if you expect to not live in the house for the next 10-20 years. And hopefully, cost of bait doesn’t skyrocket.

Really tho, I think at this point it’s more about what’s going to be effective yet safe. I don’t want to bring harm to anything, really… it’s just wanting to keep my house safe. If that means termites go bye-bye, then it does, but if it’s not hurting my house, I don’t want to see it harmed.

Any input?

Updated: We do have an exterminator that comes out once a month and sprays the exterior perimeter of the house. We do this mainly for scorpions, but of course it keeps a host of other things out too. Looking at the sheet, they put down birenthrin and cyfluthrin, which Google tells me are both barrier repellants that work against termites.

So you know…. I may just stick with that and save my money.

It’s a gamble, I know.

7 thoughts on “Termites – we got ’em

  1. Sir,
    You may go to “pest stop” or it’s equilavent and buy Termidor in a 1 gallon jug of concentrate. Mix it up, dig a trench 6″ wide and 6″ deep all the way around your slab. Dispense at the recommended amount and use the same Termidor to back fill or wash the dirt back into the trench with the same sprayer. I reccomend a 25 or 50 gallon with 12V pump to make things easier. The Termidor will start breaking down in the soil after 5-7 years. It you go with the Termidor treatment from a licensed pest contol company, Be ready for them to start cold calling you in 5 years about re-treatment. According to Dept Of Agriculture and the DEQ, they really don’t want anything in the soil that lasts for more than about 5-7 years. I like it, I use it and it’s about as hazardous as nicotine. If you take in some mist while applying, you may get a little light headed as if you had a cigarette after a period of not smoking.

    Baits, oh where to begin. You have to put termite food in the ground. You (under a termite contact are not allowed to have untreated wood to house contact. They bait away from the structure becuase Termites are constant and random forragers. They won’t stop eating your foundation becuase they hit the motherlode. They will keep on randomly forraging. The fee per quarter can be as high as 150.00 per quarter. You will have to occasionally check becuase I have witnessed 1st hand some technicians, going to a contracted homeowner, fill out the form without leaving the truck and putting the invoice in your mailbox….nope they never checked the bait stations. Also…..they have mostly done away with repair contracts where they have to cover any repairs while under a contract. Be sure to read the fine print. Laws and obligations are likley to vary with state of residence.

    This one is illegal but one of the best termite treatments that you can DIY. TALSTAR. Remember you are breaking the law if you dispense this in a way that is not prescribed by the label. Talstar has been proven to keep termites from infesting a structure in Mobile Alabama for over 12 years. That’s right 12 years. I like TALSTAR

    If you’re not keen on quarterly bait checking payments or the BIG upfront payment of liquid treatments. Ask a small pest contol technicial to do a Termidor job on the side. Most of them will. a couple of hundered dollars and you can start to worry about this again in 5-7 years. In Louisian it’s against the law for a pest control technician to treat for termites without a contract.

    If you can’t take the fliers, Alates as they are called, do what the salesman would do if you called him out for alates in the house……and it’s not against the law…..HAIR SPRAY. Non Toxic to you and I but, they can’t fly with hairspray on their wings.

    Kick down any and all termites tunnels too. They are the enemy! Don’t leave untreated wood touching the slab or structure. Remove pipe insulation form the winter and check for evidence of termites there too.

    I used to be in pest control and they sell on fear. If you would like to see that in action, call them out for an estimate. They guy will literally be wetting his pants if he finds some live termites to show you and make the sale. Live termites sell termite jobs better than termite salesmen.

    If you have any questions, please shoot me an email at weaponoffishdestruction@gmail.com

    Good luck, take care and keep on rocking,

    Bobby

  2. One more thing, although you didn’t ask. Here we don’t “spray” – we bait. Some people generally much, much older than I (44) can’t get over the fact that the technician does not spray anymore thay only bait. In those rare cases the technician keeps a sprayer full of water and sprays that on the baseboards to keep thye cusomter happy. Water, I swear.

    Since your guy is spraying the outside of the house, I’m sure he’s actually putting down some chemicals. If he sprays inside you may want to double check to make sure he’s not just wetting your baseboards. Besides, have you ever seen a roach on a baseboard? I haven’t. Granted roaches are thigmatropic, they like to be pressed up against something like rodents. The side they are pressed up against, predators can’t attck from.

    I use Home Defense (from Homey Depot) outside of my home for spiders and things like that. Only a perimeter spray about 2 times per year. Window sills, door jambs, any entry point really.

    I do the Termidor myself. Costs 300.00 and a few hours labor. Hell, I paid a neighborhood kid to crawl under my house to trench around the footings and to drill the a hole in each cinder blocks to apply the termidor properly. Done before dinner on a Saturday

    Regards,

    Bobby

    • Wow. Lots of good information. Thank you! Wife and I are still researching and discussing what to do, and this is good information. Thank you for sharing so much.

  3. I had termites at my previous house. One day I came home from work and they were flying everywhere. When I got inside they were flying around in one of the bathrooms. I called one of the local pest control places and got the cheapest “package” they offered.

    I figured even if they did come back it would be cheaper to just re-apply the stuff than get one of their packages.

    Anyway, we sold the house about 7 years later and no termites or any damage was found in the inspection.

    I think what they try to do is sell you peace of mind with a bunch of “feel good” stuff that doesn’t really do anything. The stuff they inject in the ground around your foundation is the only thing that really does anything, IMO. After reading Bobby’s post, if/when I get them at my current house, I’ll DIY it.

    • My issue with DIY is that that requires time…. and i don’t have a lot. *sigh*

      But you’re right… I do think a big part of this is peace of mind and trying to work agains the gamble of massive damage.

  4. I went to the local self-chem in Austin and picked up a jug of Dragnet SFR (Active Ingredient is Permethrin) about 5 years ago. I’ve changed my outlook a bit. Now I’m more worried about the chem than the termites. The current thought – check the exterior for mud tunnels going up slab foundation to a weep hole or crack. If you have access, also check around the tub/shower drain. Space/cracks are an entry point and it can also be a wet area that they love. You might never see them until damage is done. If you do spray, I would hit that one too.

    Remember there are two types of homes in Texas – those that have termites and those that will

    • Yeah, there’s always the DIY route. My trouble is, DIY requires time and these days I’ve got too many other things going on. Things that I can’t delegate to someone else, so… something like this would have to be delegated because it CAN be delegated.

      So, why are you more concerned about the Permethrin?

      Anyways, best I can do right now is visual inspections and so far so good. Hopefully our monthly spray keeps them well enough at bay… doesn’t kill the colony, but at least keeps them out. So, fingers crossed for now. I’ve been getting many opinions on both preventative routes and it’s a tough decision… both have pros and cons… including not doing much of anything else at all.

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