Termite Dangers for Northern Virginia Homeowners

While no home is entirely impervious to pests, prevention is the best way to limit incursions by unwelcome guests. Remove sources of food and water for pests by properly storing foodstuffs inside the home, removing waste in a timely fashion, and observing proper sanitation. Outdoors, rid the home of any debris that might be an attractor or serve as a hiding space for pests, and seal any cracks or holes around pipes, window casements, and outer walls that might admit entry from pests.

Termite prevention centers on removing the insects’ sources of food and water. Prevention best begins outdoors; landscaping that sits too closely to home foundations can encourage termites to pass into the structure. Mulch, sod, and any other landscape elements should not be situated within six to eight inches of the base of the house. In addition, direct ground contact should be avoided with any elements of the house, including siding, EIFS or stucco, foam insulation, decks, patios, and porches. Termites also require moisture to infest and breed efficiently, so repairing leaking plumbing or gutters, sealing any structural breaches, and keeping gutters clean are of paramount importance. Downspouts should also be inspected regularly for any leaks that may soak the foundations, and they should be structured to move water far away from the home before being deposited in the yard or runoff.

There are several standard treatments for termite infestations: subterranean baits, repellent liquid treatments, and non-repellent liquid treatments. Baiting systems are more costly than other methods as you must factor in the expense of the regular monitoring and baiting required. However, the method is the most environmentally friendly, requires no structural drilling, poses no threat to residents or pets, and, since treatment is ongoing, can provide the most long-term solution for protection of the home. Repellent liquid treatments, applied around and underneath homes to lay a chemical barrier between termites that lay in the soil and the house itself, have the advantage of relatively low costs and can last up to five years per treatment. The process is fairly labor intensive though, and since the termites are turned away by the chemical compounds in the soil, there is a slim chance that some pest may find a gap in the barrier. The newest non-repellent liquid treatments, while more expensive, have similar longevity. However, as the termites crawl through the chemical compounds they contain, this method carries an even higher rate of success than repellent termiticides.
Tent fumigation, once a mainstay of the industry, is still used for severe termite infestations and in some states is required before a home can be sold. However, most professionals agree that in the majority of cases, one or more spot-treatment methods in combination are more effective in termite eradication.