The right way to forestall termites earlier than they trigger harm

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How to prevent termites before they cause damage

STARKVILLE, Mississippi (WJTV) – Extension service directors at Mississippi State University (MSU) are offering tips this year for preventing termites in your home, as they are the most economically damaging pest in Mississippi.

Blake Layton, an entomologist with the Extension Service, said the cost of termites is so high that pinning down is difficult.

“Fire ants cost an estimated $250 million in the state each year, and termites cost significantly more. Nationally, termites cost an estimated $5 billion to $20 billion annually. Because they’re not a problem in all states, Mississippi and other states in the Southeast bear the brunt of these costs, potentially as much as $300-500 million a year,” he said.

Because of this risk and expense, all homeowners should be aware of the risks from termites and make sure their homes are protected, Layton said. When termites enter a building, the cost of repairing the damage can range from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands. Termite damage can result in the loss of entire buildings.

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Not only buildings are threatened by termites. Wooden bridges, wooden signs and utility poles are among the many items that can also be infested by the pests.

In nature, termites have the very important job of eating excess cellulose or wood debris. Without termites, there would be huge amounts of deadwood in forests, and wood waste would take significantly longer to biodegrade.

This hunger for wood material makes termites a high risk to homes. The first line of defense is to have every home and building treated for the pests.

Treatment costs significantly less than repairs and sanitation. The cost of treating a 2,000-square-foot home can range from $1,200 to $2,000 plus the annual cost of maintaining protection.

Layton said there are two basic types of treatments. The first is to apply a liquid termiticide to the soil around the home. This treatment can last 12-15 years

A newer treatment method involves using termite bait stations throughout the home. The bait stations must be serviced annually to ensure ongoing control.

Applying termite treatments is a job for professionals, but homeowners can take steps to eliminate or prevent conditions that promote termite infestations.

“Any moisture problem presents a real termite risk. In places where Formosaan termites are present, the risk is exponentially greater,” Layton said.

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Untreated soil or layers of wood mulch or bark piled up on the outside of a building provide open doors for termites to enter, sometimes through burrows they dig in the side of a building. Arbors, trellises, ladders, landscaping beams, wooden steps, or other untreated wood features also provide entry points for termites when attached to a structure.

“Ensure the slope of the property on which the building rests prevents water from pooling on the structure to keep the area wet. Make sure sprinklers or irrigation hoses aren’t installed too close to the house so they keep the structure constantly wet,” he said.

Spray foam insulation can cause termite control problems. Although useful for sealing small gaps, termites can tunnel through the material and be completely invisible. Using spray foam insulation can result in a hidden termite infestation.

Some termite control companies do not issue warranties on structures with extensive spray foam insulation because the insulated areas cannot be properly inspected. Some companies even refuse to treat structures to which spray foam has been applied.

Other problems arise from misidentifying the treated termites. Kohler said that both eastern subterranean and Formosaan termites are subterranean, but their control methods are different.