Termites cost property owners more than $5 billion in treatment and repair costs each year1.
There are two types of termites that can damage your home – drywood termites and subterranean termites. Each type is different and must be treated separately. A professional termite inspector can help you determine whether or not you have a termite problem and, if so, what kind of termite infestation you have.
Drywood termites build their colonies above ground, in the walls, floors, and contents of your home. They spread throughout the neighborhood through swarming – endangering not only your home but any home in the vicinity.
Drywood termites are the focus of this site. Here, we’ll help you identify signs of a termite infestation, provide tips for finding the right fumigation professional, and explain how Vikane® gas fumigant works. Vikane has been proven to effectively eliminate 100% of drywood termite infestations for over 50 years.
Subterranean termites require moist conditions (such as those found in homes with faulty plumbing or gutters) and are found in every state except Alaska. Subterranean termites nest in or near the soil – in fact, their colonies can span up to a half acre. Their vast network of tunnels leads them to even the tiniest of cracks and crevices in your home, where they leave a pheromone scent trail that leads others from their colony to the food source.
Drywood termites enter your home during the termite “swarming” season, which varies, depending on where you live. During swarming season, termites fly away from their colonies to establish new ones.
Termites can come from many places, including:
- Neighbors’ houses
- Fallen or dead trees
- Wood piles
- Utility poles
Important facts about Drywood termites:
- Found mostly in warm coastal and southern regions.
- Live in sound, dry wood in inaccessible places, such as roof rafters, eaves, deep inside walls, attics, crawlspaces, and foundations
- Can also infest cabinets, furnishings, and wood trim
- Require no external source of moisture or contact with the soil to survive
- Can infest any type of home – new or old, wood-framed or concrete
To learn more about drywood termites, watch the video “Termite Facts.”
Do You Have Drywood Termites?
Signs you might have a drywood termite infestation include:
- Discarded wings of swarming drywood termites may be found in windowsills, in and around light fixtures, in the attic, or in similar places where swarmers (winged reproductive termites) can exit a termite colony to begin a new one.
- Little piles of pellets, called frass, can also be found in these areas.
- Damaged wood that is severely blistered or sounds hollow when tapped.
- Pin-sized holes in walls and woodwork where termites “kick out” frass.
- Live, swarming (flying) termites in your home.
Is it Time for an Inspection?
There are several factors that might indicate it’s time for a termite inspection and possible fumigation. You might want to have an inspection to ensure your peace of mind if:
- Your building is 5 to 10 years old,
- It has been 5 to 10 years since the last termite treatment, and/or
- Other homes or buildings in the neighborhood have drywood termites, which can spread to your home during swarming season.
Because it is nearly impossible to locate all of the drywood termites in a structure, contact a professional termite inspector to accurately identify if you have a drywood termite infestation in your home. Should you find you have termites, do not treat the problem lightly, as you not only risk damage to your own home but to any nearby structures – the termites could leave your house to establish colonies elsewhere. Whole-structure fumigation with Vikane® gas fumigant rids your home of 100% of the termites – the first time.
Remember, too, that if you are selling or buying a house, termite inspections or documented treatment for termites may be a legal requirement for the completion of the sale.
Do You Have Termites?
You might already have termites and not even know it. That’s because drywood termites thrive in the inaccessible areas of your home – eating it from the inside out. By the time you’ve realized you have an infestation, they might have already done extensive damage.
To learn more about drywood termites, watch the video “Do You Have Termites?”
Solutions for Termites
What solutions are available for termites?
There are two approaches for treating termite infestations: spot treatment and whole-structure treatment. Spot treatments (such as orange oil and other chemical liquids and powders) must come into direct contact with the pests they are attempting to kill. This means that a pest management professional would literally have to find every hidden termite colony in a home and completely cover it with the chemical for spot treatments to be effective. And, because drywood termites hide inside wood, often in inaccessible areas of the home, this task is nearly impossible. So, spot treatments may offer only temporary or partial results.
Are both types of termite protection equally effective?
Of the two types of treatment – spot or whole-structure – only whole-structure fumigation is proven to eliminate all drywood termite infestations. Among whole-structure treatments, only Vikane® gas fumigant has been trusted for over half a century of practical use in more than 2 million structures. Vikane is the only brand of whole-structure fumigant developed, tested, and made in the U.S.A.
Moreover, Vikane can only be administered by highly trained, licensed fumigators who practice the highest standards demanded by Douglas Products – the manufacturer of Vikane gas fumigant and a recognized leader in pest management solutions – and state authorities. These fumigation specialists are backed by the support of Douglas Products, and an extensive network of distributor partners specializing in Vikane.
Don’t settle for anything less than the best.
Asking for Vikane® gas fumigant is the only way to ensure you are getting the quality, effectiveness, and care your home deserves.
How Vikane Fumigation Works.
Half a Century of proven procedure:
When conducting whole-structure fumigation with Vikane® gas fumigant, your fumigation professional will follow a proven process that has been used successfully for over half a century to ensure all the drywood termites are eliminated. Here’s how the fumigation process works:
- The fumigation process starts with preparing your home for fumigation.
- Once you’ve prepared your home and left, the fumigation crew will cover your home with tarps or plastic sheeting. This is called “tenting” the home.
- Once tented, a warning agent is released into the home as a precaution.
- Next, all doors are secured using deadbolts and secondary locks to help prevent unauthorized entry.
- Now, fumigation begins. Vikane® gas fumigant is released into the home. The gas enters into the wood through pores and minute cracks, filling all air spaces and voids in the wood, walls and floor. Vikane moves through all of the termite galleries – the tunnels and passages chewed into the wood – killing all the termites as it goes.
- Finally, the tarps are removed and your home is aerated with fans. Your fumigation professional will check the home with sophisticated equipment, designed specifically for detecting Vikane, to ensure the fumigant has dissipated from the structure before allowing you to return.
Because it is an inorganic gas, Vikane® gas fumigant completely dissipates from a structure following fumigation, leaving no surface residue, odor, or film behind. This means you will not have to wash dishes, linens, clothing, or furnishings after fumigation.
How Whole-Structure Fumigation Works.
When conducting whole-structure fumigation with Vikane® gas fumigant, your fumigation professional will follow a proven process that has been used successfully for over half a century to ensure all the drywood termites are eliminated.
To learn more about this process, watch the video “How Whole-Structure Fumigation Works“
Alternatives to Fumigation.
Vikane® gas fumigant is the only whole-structure fumigation option proven in over 50 years of study and use to completely eradicate termite infestations from entire structures without damage to the structure or personal possessions inside it.
There are, of course, alternatives to fumigation. Two options are spot treatment and heat treatment.
Spot treatments require getting the product into places where termites will come into direct contact with it.
In order for spot treatments to work, all termite colonies in the structure must be located and every termite must come into direct contact with the product – a task that is virtually impossible. Unfortunately, direct contact with the pests requires drilling multiple holes into the wood, often through walls, which must be patched and sealed after the treatment.
The reliability and effectiveness of spot treatments vary greatly among products and from applicator to applicator. Stewardship or certification programs are not required for spot treatments to ensure quality and safety, as they are with fumigation with Vikane® gas fumigant.
One example of spot treatment is orange oil. Contrary to popular belief, orange oil’s active ingredient is not citric acid but d-limonene, a solvent closely related to turpentine.1 D-limonene is flammable at a flash point of 115º F. The oil’s solvent properties (it’s usually used as a grease-cutting cleaner) might also affect paint and other finishes when used in concentrations required for termite treatment. Research also indicates that d-limonene reacts to ozone in potentially harmful ways.3,4,5,6
While orange oil doesn’t require moving out of the treated house or structure, some people find the intense residual citrus smell offensive.
Finally, ongoing research indicates that termites survived in up to 50% of the wood treated with a 92% concentration of d-limonene, under the brand name XT-2000.2
Read a summary of a research-based comparison of orange oil and fumigation or see a side-by-side comparison.
Heat treatment is the only whole-structure alternative to fumigation. The extreme heat disrupts termites’ cellular membranes and breaks down enzymes they need to survive. When a structure is treated with heat, it is sealed off and the structure must be heated over a period of four to six hours until the core temperature of the largest wood beams stays at 120° to 130° for anywhere from 33 minutes to an hour.6 This requires heating the overall structure to temperatures between 140° and 160°. Structures must be qualified for heat treatment, as certain structural materials are not suitable for this approach.
Key challenges with heat treatment are the difficulty in raising and sustaining core temperatures in large wood beams, and “heat sinks” where infested wood comes into contact with concrete or tile surfaces, making it difficult to heat.
In addition, common household items can be susceptible to heat damage. Plastics, such as outlet and light switch covers and kitchen utensils are susceptible to heat damage. Vinyl windows must be treated with care. Electronics, such as computer equipment and cable wiring can also sustain damage during the process, making it particularly difficult to use in office buildings, as well as in medical facilities where sensitive equipment and x-ray film can be adversely affected or damaged.
Although heat treatments require evacuation of the home or structure, it is generally for a day or so, depending on how easily temperatures in core structures can be raised and maintained.
- Mashek, B. and Quarles, W. Orange Oil for Drywood Termites: Magic or Marketing Madness? The IPM Practitioner. V. XXX, Jan/Feb, 2008. Found online: http://www.birc.org/JanFeb2008.pdf
- Dow AgroSciences. Technical Release: Laboratory evaluation of efficacy of orange oil (XT-2000) for control of drywood termites in naturally-infested boards. 2009. Available online: Link to PDF:http://www.877termite.com/media/pdf/dow-agro-sciences_orange-oil-efficacy.pdf
- Wainman, T., Zhang, J., Weschler, C, and Lioy, P. J. Ozone and Limonene in Indoor Air: A Source of Submicron Particle Exposure. Found online: http://www.ehponline.org/members/2000/108p1139-1145wainman/wainman-full.html
- Healthy Child Healthy World. Chemical Profiles: d-Limonene. Found online:http://healthychild.org/issues/chemical-pop/d-limonene/
- Material Safety Data Sheet: DLimonene MSDS. Found online: http://www.sciencelab.com/xMSDS-DLimonene-9924496
- V. R. Lewis. Drywood Termites, Pest Notes. IPM Education and Publications, UC Statewide IPM Program. Copyright 2009. Online at http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7440.html