It’s been a while since we had an article on these pesky bugs and a lot has changed since then.
First, a comment on “conducive conditions”. The pest control operators find these as much as a nuisance as the Realtors however we are required by our licensing act to inform the consumer that they are present. For those of you who don’t know what these are, a good example would be a wood pile next to a house (the wood creates a condition conducive to a termite infestation on or in the house). We fully understand that FHA/VA lenders do not want these on the termite report but the Pest Control Board has determined that the consumer comes first!
Regarding “spot” treatments versus a complete job, allow me to quote an article from a recent issue of Pest Control magazine: “When a home is infested, don’t assume there is only one colony [of termites] beneath the structure. Otherwise spot treatment may deter part or all of one colony, but another entire colony may still be lurking in the soil”.
Pest control operators have known this for years, but have been remiss in sharing this with other interested parties. Also, a spot treatment can stop a colony from entering a certain part of a structure, but does nothing to prevent it from entering the same structure in a different location!
Sellers are sometimes upset when a termite inspector requires a treatment even though there is no active infestation. Allow me to explain why this is done. If there is evidence of previous termite activity, but no evidence of a previous treatment, the inspector must assume that the termites left the property on their own or were driven out by natural predators (most notably fire ants). Thus, they could return AT ANY TIME to reinfest the structure. Also, section 599.5a of the Texas Structural Pest Control Act instructs a licensee to require a treatment (or other preventive measure) if “there is good reason to believe that such problems [infestation] may occur if corrective steps are not taken”. So, if we didn’t, we would be in violation of our own licensing act! Also, let us remember WHO is called upon to treat the property (gratis, of course) after the buyer moves in and finds ACTIVE termites shortly thereafter!
Speaking of licenses, pest control operators work under very stringent licensing, certification, MCE and insurance requirements. Don’t think the man spraying pesticides around your home is some yahoo; he more than likely is a highly trained, well read and concerned individual who is very much aware of the safety, liability and other aspects of his business.
A word about chemicals. Until 1988, Chlordane was the termiticide of choice because of it’s incredible longevity in the soil (30 + years). The chemicals in use today are just as repellent to termites, but don’t last nearly as long, probably 10-15years in Texas, assuming they are applied per the label instructions. Thus, termite treatments are not the permanent solution they used to be. The chemicals ARE very safe when applied properly. They are injected INTO the soil, never on top, and are a very dilute solution (usually .25% to 1%). There are other termite control methods including foam and yard baits but chemicals are by far the preferred medium in use today.
Bottom line – get your property inspected annually for termites and other wood destroying insects or pay the consequences.