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Termite Problem
Old 10-12-2005, 07:14 PM   #1
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Termite Problem

Hello,

I live in SoCal and I think I'm having a little bit of a termite issue. I had a couple of (free) inspections done and they found some termites about 1.5 years ago. None of the inspectors seemed to think that the problem was bad and thought that they could spot treat it. Unfortunately, things came up (meaning I procrastinated) and never took care of anything. The evidence of termite infestation that we originally saw was frass in the living room. After a few weeks of that, it disppeared, which I think contributed to me not taking care of the problem like I should have!

Fast forward to this week. We've been seeing winged termites in the garage and in the house. We do keep the doors open occasionally so they might have come in from the outside. I was under the impression that the winged termites don't come out till springtime??

Anyways, long story short, I'm thinking about getting a pest control company to do spot treatments instead of fumigating the whole damn house. I know this might not take care of the problem, but I'd like to get a contract with a company that will periodically inspect and take care of new infestations. Any input? Anyone in the Orange County area know of a reputable termite control company? What should I look out for? I'm going to have 2-3 companies come by and give me quotes...

Thanks.
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Re: Termite Problem
Old 10-12-2005, 07:23 PM   #2
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Re: Termite Problem

I think you should tent. There are crooked operators out there. Look them up here before you sign a contract:

http://www.pestboard.ca.gov/
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Re: Termite Problem
Old 10-12-2005, 07:58 PM   #3
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Re: Termite Problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
I think you should tent. There are crooked operators out there. Look them up here before you sign a contract:

http://www.pestboard.ca.gov/
My concern about tenting is:

1. I got to move out and box all the food etc. Additionally, plants that are close to house might/will die.

2. There's no guarantee the termites won't be in there the week after the fumigation is complete.

With a spot control contract, I figure that I can get an inspection once a year (from a third party) and treat the infestations if any.

Thanks for the link, I'll definitely have to take a look at that.
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Re: Termite Problem
Old 10-12-2005, 08:41 PM   #4
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Re: Termite Problem

The pest board site should give you lots of info. Spot treatments are fine if you know exactly where the suckers are. Otherwise, tent.
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Re: Termite Problem
Old 10-12-2005, 09:55 PM   #5
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Re: Termite Problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderALot
Hello,

I live in SoCal and I think I'm having a little bit of a termite issue.* I had a couple of (free) inspections done and they found some termites about 1.5 years ago.* None of the inspectors seemed to think that the problem was bad and thought that they could spot treat it.* Unfortunately,* things came up (meaning I procrastinated) and never took care of anything.* The evidence of termite infestation that we originally saw was frass in the living room.* After a few weeks of that, it disppeared, which I think contributed to me not taking care of the problem like I should have!

Fast forward to this week.* We've been seeing winged termites in the garage and in the house.* We do keep the doors open occasionally so they might have come in from the outside.* I was under the impression that the winged termites don't come out till springtime??

Anyways, long story short,* I'm thinking about getting a pest control company to do spot treatments instead of fumigating the whole damn house.* I know this might not take care of the problem, but I'd like to get a contract with a company that will periodically inspect and take care of new infestations.* *Any input?* Anyone in the Orange County area know of a reputable termite control company?* What should I look out for?* I'm going to have 2-3 companies come by and give me quotes... Thanks.
Hey, Wander, I live in the western world's termite capital and I actually know something about this. Thank goodness I don't have to read the winterizing threads any more!

The "frass" you saw could have come from just about any kind of termite and not a few insects (like borers or post beetles). Unless you see mud tunnels or more piles of frass under damaged wood or physical wall damage I wouldn't worry about it.

Here's one time to worry. Five years ago I noticed a mud tube (about the size of a pencil) between a sidewalk crack and the bottom of the house siding. When I chipped it open, a bunch of termites scattered. The exterminator sprayed and we stopped worrying about it.

Last year (four years after the first incident) I was cleaning an inside wall and I had a couple spots (the size of a pinhead) that stayed dirty. When I probed them with a fingernail it turned out that they were mud daubs pushed from the inside of the wall to the outside (to seal holes). When I chipped them off a few termites ran out looking for shelter. That's a good sign that you have ground termites in your walls. In this case the previous nest hadn't been completely killed and they found a different way up through the foundation into the house. After FOUR YEARS there wasn't any detectable damage.

Winged termites are a completely different species from the ground termites. They can swarm any time of year (although spring is more common) and they're attracted to light. If you see them swarming around a light then turn it off. You'll see lots of wing cases and an occasional carcass but unless you leave water-soaked wood lying around (yummy) you won't have any problems. Winged termites very rarely nest in houses because there's so much wet wood outdoors, but they die by the thousands swarming around the houselights. Don't worry about treating them unless you see their little butts poking out of the holes in a piece of wood.

Tenting/fumigating looks cool but is a waste of time & money and, as you've observed, it's a colossal hassle. In fact one ingenious Hawaii burglar used to follow the tenters with a small SCUBA rig and rip off the houses while they were being treated. The treatment doesn't persist longer than the time it's administered and the winged termites will move right back in the next night if they want to. The ground termites will replace their losses from the ground nest and you're right back to where you left off. The ants & cockroaches (and careless criminals) will die but after a couple days they'll be back too.

There are two major treatments for ground termites. Sentricon puts wood baits in little ground pits and they're checked monthly by a service. When they find termites in the wood baits they replace the bait with poison. When the termites are gone they go back to wood baits. Some feel this just encourages the termites, others feel that it's a way for the service to stay employed forever.

The second option is Termidor. We didn't use it in 2000 but we used it last year. A pro will actually drill into the concrete slab every 18-24" and inject it under the foundation, then spray the surrounding ground/vegetation out to 10 feet from the house. Termidor is non-toxic to humans, animals, and plants but it's a slow-acting poison to ants, ticks, fleas, & termites. The substance dries quickly but the powder stays active for a few weeks and is carried by the termites back to the queen to eventually kill her and the whole nest. It's considered faster than bait.

So look for mud tunnels or live termites (without wings). If you don't find anything then I wouldn't worry about it until you see actual live evidence. And then I'd have a company spray Termidor once for a few hundred bucks instead of paying a monthly fee forever.
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Re: Termite Problem
Old 10-12-2005, 10:07 PM   #6
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Re: Termite Problem

I don't know much about termites but always lived in fear of them in Houston.

One tip from our realtor (that we put in sales contract for our house) is that the termite inspection must be done by a company that only does inspections, and does not treat. That way you get a professional opinion without the company being motivated to sell you treatment.

Apparently there are more reputable companies that do inspections only.
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Re: Termite Problem
Old 10-12-2005, 10:14 PM   #7
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Re: Termite Problem

Here is a Pest Note that was developed by the University of CA and is used by the Master Gardener program to help people with their pest problems. This may provide some helpful info for your problem. (It mentions the winged termintes come out in the fall and spring). Lots of info here.

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7415.html
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Re: Termite Problem
Old 10-12-2005, 10:29 PM   #8
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Re: Termite Problem

We just found active termites in our house. No big deal, we were stripping it down to the studs. Every house in Austin either has had termites or will have them. The studs were about gone when we ripped the sheetrock off. Had to sister up the studs. Termites need moisture to survive. That is why you usually see the mud tunnels coming up from the foundation. However, in our case there were no mud tunnels coming up from the piers where they were traveling back and forward to their underground colony. If there is enough moisture and protection in the walls, they can survive there too. We had both our foundation guy and a WDI home inspector check the house for termites before we bought it. None saw any evidence of termites. This is because it is a visible inspection. Whatever is behind that sheetrock/carpet etc. is something they can't see and are therefore not responsible for - and we had a LOT of that. The pest control guy strongly advised against spot treatments. Instead we did the whole perimeter of the house. We also fixed the drainage problem which was responsible for the termites in the first place. Termidor is the new stuff, only lasts about 5 years. Prevention is stil the best - make sure you don't have water accumulating or leaks in/under the house. Just assisted in a termite job myself as a board certified apprentice (woohooo!!!). How much fun to dig a bunch of trenches around those piers. And yes, there was termite damage (at the wet spot) but it was old - the little boogers had already moved on to greener pastures. Still good money for the pest guy. Bet they will not fix the root cause anyway, so he will be back.

Vicky

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Re: Termite Problem
Old 10-12-2005, 10:30 PM   #9
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Re: Termite Problem

We had sort of the same problem two years ago in our garage area (Live in Orange County too.) *We called "the Bug Man" * -- 714-992-2532. *Came recommended by my neighbor who had a termite problem and used this company. * They came out the next day, gave a full inspection, and treated the area, gave us a full diagram of wood that had to be replaced, etc., guaranteed for one full year. *We were satisfied... *Good luck....
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Re: Termite Problem
Old 10-12-2005, 11:48 PM   #10
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Re: Termite Problem

Here in Texas we have the ground-contact termites everywhere. The winged versions of them come out at swarm time. Nobody around here tents to kill them. Spot treatment instead. With slab-on-grade foundations, they like to build the dirt tubes up from the ground till they get to the bottom edge of wood siding, brick weep holes, etc. Once inside, they love to tunnel through the thin paper face on drywall, which is where they can make their appearance known. Over the years, I've been working to get the edge of the slab exposed some all around the house so I can check easier for dirt tubes.

I hooked up years ago with a sole-proprietor pest guy who does a good job, and who remembers previous problem areas. The personal touch. No Sears pest control or Terminex for me!

Over New Orleans way they also have the dreaded Formosan termite, which doesn't bother with the ground from what I've heard. Just flies into attics, etc.* Those they tent, as ground treatment is irrelevant. Read something a couple weeks ago that said the flooding there will drive them further inland and spread out more. That's not good!
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Re: Termite Problem
Old 10-13-2005, 12:18 AM   #11
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Re: Termite Problem

Lots of great termite info in this thread, but beware that not much of it applies to Orange County, CA. WanderALot, the inspectors will tell you what kind of termites you have. Chances are that they are drywood termites, and your only recourse to get rid of them will be tenting/fumigation.

Get a couple of opinions, a couple of quotes, and check the CA pest board for any complaints against the pest control guys before you commit. Also, google the name of the company. Some of the flakier operators change their name every year or so.
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Re: Termite Problem
Old 10-13-2005, 12:49 PM   #12
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Re: Termite Problem

I have an ongoing battle with ground termites.* Find out which you have first, contrary to a previous post, I believe ground termites can have wings as well.* A ground termite can also tunnel all the way up to the attic.* Tenting will kill them, but they will return in a matter of weeks.* Drilling the perimeter of the house is standard for Southern California.* My suggestion: get a guarantee for as long as available.* I paid $850 for a perimeter drilling and have had the company out 5 additional times under the guarantee.* I'm on year 3 of the 5 year guarantee.* *Maybe the firm I have is not doing a great job, but I have worked with them on every occasion, and am convinced that they are doing the best they can, given the chemicals they are allowed to use.* Good Luck.*
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Re: Termite Problem
Old 10-13-2005, 12:53 PM   #13
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Re: Termite Problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
Lots of great termite info in this thread, but beware that not much of it applies to Orange County, CA. WanderALot, the inspectors will tell you what kind of termites you have. Chances are that they are drywood termites, and your only recourse to get rid of them will be tenting/fumigation.
I love this board, thanks for all the advice everyone!

From looking around, it appears that I do have drywood termites. The mud tunnels that several people referred seems to be associated with subterreanean termites, which apparently cause a hell of a lot more damage and are a total different beast (much smaller colony sizes, a lot less damage etc). There's a good table at http://www.pestproducts.com/termites.htm.

As usual I seem to have information paralysis. I think I'll follow Wab's suggestion and get a bunch of opinions and go from there.
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Re: Termite Problem
Old 10-13-2005, 05:30 PM   #14
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Re: Termite Problem

Around here (Northern Virginia) the pest control guys are crooks. I had a brand new deck put in and stained. It didn't look new after the staining. We had a few ants and my wife insisted on getting an estimate from a pest guy. He wanted $380.00 to kill them in three treatments. I said thanks but no thanks and killed them with a $1.69 can of ant spray. On the way out he commented that he got there "just in time to save my deck as it was about to fall apart from infestation." That's when I knew he was a con artist. That and he drove a Pinto station wagon full of poisinous chemicals just heaped in the back. All the cans had drip marks on the sides. I would be surprised if he is still alive.

Mike D.
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Re: Termite Problem
Old 10-13-2005, 05:41 PM   #15
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Re: Termite Problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeD
the pest control guys are crooks.
I think that's true everywhere. Most of the time, pest control is a scam. A recurring revenue scam. You always need to address the root cause, and these guys never do. But in some cases, you don't have much choice. If you have a wood-destroying pest, can't find their nests, and don't have any obvious water or wood/ground interface problems, you just have to smoke the buggers out.
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Re: Termite Problem
Old 10-14-2005, 09:57 AM   #16
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Re: Termite Problem

From a former exterminator... a LONG time ago... so I do not know much about the new poisons..

Texas has sub-terranian termites (mostly) and you need to put a barrier to prevent them from entering the house... the poison does not kill the termite colony as they are usually very big.. you just kill a few and make it not appealing to munch on your house... an inspection can not find all of them as they can come up through holes in your slab and do their dirty work inside the wood... While doing a bath remodel, I found termites in my house!! They had been there for awhile with no sign.. BUT, if you see a dirt tube ANYWHERE in or around your house, you probably have termites... also, these termiets will swarm (the winged kind) to establish another colony.. not a different termite). You can not spot treat this type of termite... repeat YOU CAN NOT SPOT TREAT... they will just look for another way in and will find it..

The other major kind is drywood termites which seems to be what California has... there are some here in Houston, but I never saw any with my clients and never did a job... but, I think you can spot treat, but it is tough as you have to get to where they are to kill them.... and the only way you can guarantee that is to tent...

But, I as surprised as to all of the good info on this subject already given..


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