Despite their small size, termites can be a real nightmare. The global damage caused by their destructive lifestyle is estimated in billions of dollars annually. They are difficult to detect and people usually notice their presence when the damage is extensive and visible. Therefore, if you suspect an infestation, you should call the best termite control phoenix has to offer right away.
Types of Termites in Arizona
The first step to successful termite control is accurate identification of the species. There are over 2600 types of termites, 185 of which are harmful to constructions. Termites are tiny insects (4- 15 mm). They live in highly organized colonies, consisting of primary reproductives (the king and queen), soldiers, workers and winged reproductives (called alates).
Once the primary colony is mature, the alates leave the nest in search for other places to start a colony. This is called swarming. Termites usually swarm in spring, after a rainfall and (in most cases) only once per season.
The main species of destructive termites found in Arizona include the subterranean termites (desert and arid-land type), western drywood and desert dampwood termites.
Subterranean termites live underground, in a maze of small holes and tunnels. As a result, they are difficult to detect and locate.
They prefer to chew on soft, spring wood fiber, leaving only the woodgrain behind. This gives the damaged wood the appearance of a honeycomb. Their colonies can contain thousands of workers. This species is mostly found in the southern and southeastern parts of the USA.
Drywood termites live inside dry wood, hence their name. They don’t need any contact with soil or external moisture. Their colonies develop slowly and are much smaller compared to the subterranean type.
Their primary food sources include structural wood, furniture and hardwood floors. The infested wood looks very smooth (as if smoothed by sand paper). Drywood termites can form separate colonies in several different sites within a home (basement, attic, front porch).
Dampwood termites can only survive in wood with high moisture. They mostly infest damp or decaying wood (logs, dead trees) and are not among the most dangerous termites you can face.
They may attack buildings or utility poles if the structures are in contact with the soil or in case of water leaks. However, such infestations are rare.
Effective termite control Phoenix strategies
Termite control is a complex issue. It requires proper identification of the pests, inspection of your home, detection of the termites and selection of the right method of eradication. This, in turn, demands expertise and extensive experience in the field. If you want the job done properly, you’re best advised to leave it to termite control experts. It can save you thousands of dollars in preventive measures.
There is a wide variety of termite control methods, suited for different circumstances and types of infestation. However, regardless of the situation, a thorough inspection of your home and surroundings is always the first step. This is done in order to determine whether an infestation is taking place and to identify possible high-risk entry points.
Inspection areas should include timbers in the sub-floor, the roof, your home interior and exterior, yard, fence and other wooden structures in the area.
If an infestation is confirmed, there are several effective eradication methods:
Chemical treatment of the soil around the house and the sub-floor area is used when termites are attempting to enter your home through the soil. Quality pest control companies use reduced-risk pesticides (termiticides), such as Altriset, that are both effective and safe for humans and pets. The substance is poured into trenches previously dug around your home. Termites cannot smell or taste the pesticide. As a result, they can ingest it or carry it on their bodies. They become paralyzed and die within hours.
The proper creation of a chemical soil barrier requires expert knowledge and special equipment. Experts are also needed in order to detect and eradicate secondary nests. These nests are built in roof structures or wall cavities where moisture is supplied from a leakage (broken roof tiles, damaged plumbing, etc).
Termite baits – once placed in the ground, the bait is spread throughout the colony by the worker termites, where it interferes with their growth process. Without workers, the colony can’t function and sustain itself. Usually, several weeks (or even months) are needed to eliminate a colony this way.
If enough termites come in contact and spread the bait, the colony will die off more quickly. The bait must be professionally positioned and monitored. If the termites detect the bait, they will abandon the area and seek entrance through other routes.
The drawback of this method is that even if the bait eliminates one colony, there may be other termites nested nearby (in trees, under concrete floors, adjacent wood) that are not in direct contact with it.
This method can be used when full chemical soil treatment is not possible or where thousands of termites are expected to eat the bait. Also, this method can be implemented first and followed up by chemical soil treatment.
Wood treatment is used against drywood termites. The termiticides are odorless and very effective. Once applied, they also protect against future infestations. This treatment can be applied directly to the wood or injected into it for maximum efficiency and safety.
Fumigation – this is the treatment of choice when multiple nests are found in your home. It involves exposure of the entire interior to a gaseous insecticide, reaching the cracks where termites live and breed.
Preventive measures and building modifications – these measures include improved sub-floor ventilation, removal of wood in contact with the soil and maintaining easy access to important inspection areas.
The reason for this is simple. Termite colonies will grow faster and infest your home more quickly if they have plenty of timber wood and moisture at their disposal. In homes where structural timbers are in contact with the soil, termites can gain easy and undetected access. Hence, all timbers in direct contact with the soil should be removed and stored above ground.
Another useful measure is to prevent moisture from accumulating inside walls or around the base of the house. Also, make sure there are no water leaks from the bathroom or kitchen plumbing, guttering or air conditioning units.
Regular inspections are a must. Even if you take measures to eliminate the pests, you should still have the termite-prone areas checked several times a year. In the first 2 years after the chemical soil treatment, inspections should be performed every 3 or 6 months. The baiting systems should be checked every month.