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DIY Termite Treatment Not a Good Idea

By Chris Williams on July 5, 2013.

Termite control around the houseQuestion

When I was planting a new shrub around the foundation of our house, I discovered these whitish things crawling all though the mulch there. Much to my horror, I’ve since learned that they were termites. I want to treat the ground around our house for termites but I’m not sure what pesticide to buy. Can you recommend a product?

Answer

There are a couple of things we need to discuss here. First, finding termites in the mulch around your home is not necessarily a cause for concern. Every piece of property has termites; they are common in the ground, especially where there is wood in contact with the soil. They are also common in wood mulch where they have both wood to feed on and the moisture they crave. Seeing termites around the foundation of your home does not mean you are under attack. The main question is whether or not your home has a protective chemical barrier in place to keep termites from finding and feeding on the wood.

It’s important to know when your house was last treated for termites or whether there has been a recent termite inspection. If the house had a termite treatment in recent years, you should have little reason to think that termites would be able to breach that treated soil barrier and invade your home. If you have done major foundation landscaping or disturbed the soil barrier in other ways, a retreatment may be called for.

Secondly, there are no suitable termite pesticides (we call them termiticides) available to the general public. In your state of Massachusetts, “the sale and use of termiticides labeled for subsurface application is restricted to specially trained professionals who are licensed” by the state. General purpose, store-bought pesticides won’t do the job anyway. Termite treatments around the foundation of a home use specialized application equipment that injects large amounts of termiticide into the soil.

A Termite Inspection Can Provide Peace of Mind

Given all that, for your peace of mind, you might want to have a professional termite inspection just to make sure that there is no sign of termites invading your home. Our trained termite technicians can do that. At Colonial we also offer an in-ground termite baiting system that offers you protection from termite attack without having to drill and inject termiticide around your home. Give us a call for all the details.
Rethinking mulch at your home because of insects

Rethink Wood Mulch

Finally, we try to discourage the use of wood mulch around home foundations, and not just because termites like it. Lots of other pests live in wood mulch, too, and can find their way from the mulch into your house. Substitute a non-organic type of mulch or use pea gravel and landscape cloth around the foundation. If you must have wood mulch, pull it back from the house by about a foot so that pests don’t have direct access to your home.

Photo credit: Mike Schmid / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

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