- Termites are small (4-15 mm; 0.16 to 0.59 inches), silent, secretive insects that feed on wood. Unfortunately, they frequently become intrusive house pests, tough to get rid of.
- The tenting process is a popular solution to get rid of termites. However, fumigation combined with the tent termite treatment method requires the help of professional examinators companies. Yet, there are alternatives to deal with termites without tenting. The article below reveals the customs of colonies of dry-, dampwood, and subterranean termites and presents methods for termite treatment without tenting.
- The secretive nature of these pests makes termite activity challenging to recognize until it becomes severe. However, we should be aware of signs that indicate the infestation of the wood in our house. Read on to discover what they are.
What are termites?
Termites have an origin during the Late Jurassic, with the first fossil records in the Early Cretaceous.
They’re typically around 4 to 15 millimeters (0.16 to 0.59 in).
The largest of all extant termites are the queens of the species Macrotermes bellicosus, measuring up to over 10 centimeters (4 inches) in length.
Currently, there are about 3,106 breeds described.
Termites comprise about 1% of insect species but represent over 50% of insect biomass.
People sometimes call these pests “white ants,” but they aren’t related to ants, being close cousins of cockroaches.
If you ever had to deal with them, you’ll never forget this experience; but that’s not enough for an introduction.
So let’s go on to reveal deeply hidden secrets about these secretive insects.
After all, the only way to get rid of termites from your house is to know them thoroughly.
So who are these tiny, and ― let’s deal with it ― not very pretty, creatures?
Termites are insects that feed on wood.
They frequently become pests of homes that are often structured and filled with wood.
Drywood termites burrow deep within wooden structures,
We find them in warm, southern climates.
Drywood termites feed on wood, and this is where they house their colonies.
They consume wood, burrowing mazes of tunnels and chambers within walls and furniture, and leaving small piles of feces (resembling pellets) where they have eaten or nested.
Drywood termites can:
- cause sagging floors, walls, and ceilings and
- leave behind areas that appear to be water damaged.
We primarily find subterranean termites underground; they can travel above ground to access food sources, and they are most likely to live in large groups.
We can find these termites throughout the continental US.
Important: You’ll recognize that there’s an active termite colony of both types if you notice winged swarmers.
They enter homes through:
- cracked or unsealed foundations, and
- brown, dry, and cylindrical tunnels constructed from mud, their feces, and saliva;
The presence of these tunnels near your property foundation is a sure sign of subterranean termite infestation.
Dampwood termites are attracted by the wood that:
- is damaged by water, or
- rests directly on the ground;
- fallen logs,
- tree branches that are left in direct contact with the ground, and
- rarely seen areas of the house affected by roof leaks or cracked drainpipes;
These termites weaken homes by hollowing out support beams.
To remain hidden, dampwood termites don’t construct mud tubes.
Instead, they cover up their entry holes with their feces.
You’ll recognize the termite infestation at your house by wood decay and severe leaks that create excessive moisture in the home.
There are two types of termites when it comes to the phase of development that homeowners have to face:
- the worker, and
- the swarmer;
Let’s tackle their descriptions in the paragraphs below.
How do worker termites look?
They are creamy colored and 3-4 mm long.
We usually can see them only when a mud foraging tube or infested wood is broken.
We can find them year-round.
Swarmers are the reproductive caste of the termite colony.
This pest is approximately 4 mm long, dark brown, or black when it comes to looks.
They may or may not have wings (they lose their wings shortly after emergence).
Swarming flights of the most common Texas breeds usually take place during daylight hours.
We typically encounter swarmers between March through April in Texas.
Does your house have termites?
Termites colony can survive in our house for long, completely unseen.
That’s not surprising; getting in contact with humans may be harmful to termites, especially if these humans are professional exterminators.
These pests can be tough to discover before significant damage has already been done.
Keep an eye on the warning signs of termite activity:
- excessively squeaky floorboards, tiles loosening from the added moisture termites can introduce to your floor, buckling wooden or laminate floorboards,
- wood that sounds hollow when tapped, and/or crumbling, damaged wood
- flying termite swarms on your property
- mounds of drywood termite pellets (they resemble small piles of salt or pepper)
- discolored or drooping drywall and small pinpoint holes in it
- mud tubes climbing the foundation of your home, stuck windows or doors
- peeling paint that resembles water damage (when there is none)
- maze-like patterns in furniture, floorboards, and/or walls
- piles of wings left behind after swarms (these resemble fish scales)
Important: Termites are not only wood-eaters, but they’re also fans of paper. In 1997 in Windermere, Florida, they attacked a town library.
Getting rid of termites without tenting
Termites are a challenge for homeowners in the United States. People spend more than $2 billion on wood treatment to protect their homes (including the foundation, framing, and flooring) from these insects every year.
Your property may be under a termite infestation for several years, showing no signs of their presence. It happens often.
To avoid pest infestations, homeowners should:
- get rid of high levels of moisture and reduce humidity in the home, and
- treat and cover any exposed wood in contact with the soil;
To be even more protected, try to examine building exteriors for:
- broken window screens,
- imperfectly sealed plumbing lines, and
- cracked shingles and fascia boards;
If these prevention measures don’t help, contact professionals for proper anti termite treatment in the infested area. Examinators will apply the most efficient way to treat termite infestations effectively.
Tip: Termites do not bite or harm humans. Yet, pest control treatments should be executed only by professionals.
Tent termite treatment is the most popular way to get rid of termites, and many homeowners (or rather, experienced professional exterminators that homeowners call for) often utilize it.
Tenting for termites allows the gas to penetrate the wood and kill the termites on site. Next, the technician sets up the tent over the entire structure of your home, attaches a fan and hose to the tent to pumps it into the house.
Important: Make sure that any gas flames and pilot lights are out and that all of your appliances are off. It’s a crucial point when preparing for fumigation.
It sounds a bit terrifying, doesn’t it?
No wonder that people came up with alternative solutions.
To sum up, tenting stands for fumigation and the house is also covered with the tent.
The fumigant used is an actual gas that reaches every area and profoundly penetrates the wood structures of the house, where termites live and feed.
Once you aerate the house entirely, it leaves behind no residue whatsoever.
No wonder people look for alternatives and wonder how to get rid of termites without tenting.
Let’s meet other methods to get rid of harmful colonies of termites.
Orange oil treatment
How to get rid of termites without tenting?
The orange oil treatment is the most common among softer treatments against drywood termites.
It’s the leading alternative to tenting and other types of invasive methods.
First, drill into the affected wood and inject the pure orange oil into infested wood.
Important: Orange oil is very acidic. It contains high levels of D-limonene, the substance that gives the orange fruit its citrusy scent.
Once you pump the orange oil into the wood with this spot treatment, it will flow into the termite chambers.
At this point, it will kill every mite that it comes across.
The orange oil treatment is perfect if you know the exact location of the drywood termites.
Otherwise, ask examinators to detect for you the presence of drywood termites behind walls and timbers so you could make it more manageable to kill them.
Heat treatment seems to be the lesser evil in termite control than fumigation.
It’s free of chemical substances.
It uses pure heat to kill the pests.
However, you can do heat treatment only in a specific house area (like the attic or a detached shed).
Boric acid treatment
Another popular DIY termite treatment?
Go for boric acid or borax.
It’s not the fastest way, and thus, not the most effective either.
On the bright side, it’s relatively safe to use, and you can get it from most home supplies stores.
And as with the orange oil, it’s a spot treatment, so you need to determine precisely where the drywood termites are foraging.
First off, dilute boric acid powder in water.
Then, use a blunt-tipped syringe to inject it into the infected wood.
If there are no openings or external signs of damage, you’ll need to drill the hole in the wall.
Tip: When the ticking sound stops, you may have killed the entire colony.
Professional exterminators also use borate solutions. These methods are potent, and these guys (and gals) are licensed to handle and procure various chemicals used for pest control.
Liquid nitrogen treatment
Among alternatives to tenting, there is also liquid nitrogen to get rid of wood termites infestation.
Simply drill a hole into the affected area and inject liquid nitrogen.
Important: Note that only licensed professionals should handle liquid nitrogen when treating wood termites as direct contact with this substance can cause frostbite and serious injuries.
Liquid nitrogen isn’t even available to buy, so you need a pest control company to conduct the treatment for you.