What do you feel when you hear the word termite?
This family of miniscule hungry insects can strike fear into even the most confident of homeowners.
Are there low-tox or nontoxic methods to discourage these home-eating pests?
What should you know about these pesky house invaders?
Types of Termites
Two of the most common types are Drywood and Subterranean.
In the United States, the vast majority of wood-boring insect problems stem from the subterranean (meaning, in the soil) variety.
Drywood termites live inside of wood, and can cause structural damage. They tunnel through wood, and can access a home through its walls. Tight construction is a must to protect the home. Caulking joints is also important, as their bodies are very small and can bore into tiny cracks and crevices. Using Boric Acid on the wood used for framing is considered by some to be an effective deterrent.
Subterranean termites, the most common, can also cause structural damage. They, too, tunnel through wood.
But unlike the drywood pests, the subterranean bugs must have moisture to survive. These insects look for ways to move from the soil into the wood structures. They create tiny tubes made of earth, through which they tunnel, and these are kept moist. These subterranean pests tunnel through, but do not live in the wood.
So what is a homeowner to do to prevent these pesky pests from wreaking havoc inside their walls?
Let's discuss what you, as a homeowner, can do to discourage nest-building from the start of your project. Then we will look at some of the common barriers used to deter these home-eating mini-monsters.
Preconstruction and Construction Practices
One of the best bug deterrents is a poured, reinforced concrete foundation free of any cracks. Block foundations give plenty of hiding spaces for mudtubes to be built in search of your wood.
Be certain that your builder plans for drainage to be taken AWAY from your foundation. This is critical, not only to keep your basement dry, but to keep moisture from inviting pests.
Do not allow any lumber, mulch, or other wood products to be stored near or under your crawl space or
Be sure that any shrubs or trees are not planted too close to the home. They may invite too much moisture to your foundation if not given enough space.
Since subterranean creatures thrive in moisture, it is critical to keep the wood in your structure well above the ground, and to moisture seal any wood that is near ground level. Some recommend that wood be no nearer than 6-18" above the ground - the higher the better.
Be sure to insist (consider adding this to your contract) that all lumber and stumps, dead trees, scrap wood, etc, be REMOVED from the site after construction. You may also prefer to schedule periodic removal while construction is still in process.
Backfill should NEVER contain wood, scraps, stumps, OSB board, or anything that would attract insects and give them a convenient fuel station on the way to their favorite diner (your house)!
Types of Termite Barriers
There are several types of barriers.
These may be divided into 3 categories:
Chemical treatment is common in many areas.
More information on chemical, physical and biological
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