How do you know if your home needs a termite inspection? In Orange County, it’s actually wise to schedule a twice-yearly termite inspection — one in the late spring and one in the late fall — as termites tend to swarm (and thus are most likely to create a new hive in your home) in the rainy seasons. If you’re in the vast majority of people who isn’t willing to engage in that little bit of preventative maintenance, you should at least know what the other signs are that it might be time to schedule a termite inspection.
A termite colony generally starts in the woods, having hollowed out a massive tree or built a termite mound out of the partially-digest wood and their own saliva and feces. That colony will send out swarms of breeder termites, and if those breeders find a nice, comfy nook or cranny of your home, you could millions of termites eating away at your home’s structure in just a few short months.
There are three basic breeds of termite: soldiers, which look like grubs with huge pincers; workers, which look like squirming grains of rice with heads, and breeders, which look like ants. Breeders begin their life cycle with long wings, which they shed once they’ve found a place to live. In fact, finding a set of wings that look like very small dragonfly wings on your floor in a great reason to call out your favorite termite control Orange County business for a visit.
Of course, there is also a queen, but you’ll almost never see her. She’s about 4 inches long, and at her most active can pump out nearly six thousand eggs every day — about one every fifteen seconds, all day long. Needless to say, if your termite control methods don’t find and eliminate this one, you’re wasting your time.
Unexpected bubbling in the paint on the inside or outside of your house is another sure reason to call the termite inspector. This is the result of worker termites chewing through the surface of the wood, not liking the paint, and patching the hole with their own saliva and feces.
In ‘Preparing for Fumigation in Orange County, Part I’, we discussed a bit about the dangers of fumigation and the basic pre-prep you need to perform in order to get ready for your choice of termite control Orange County businesses. Next, we’ll talk about the actual preparations to the inside and outside of your home that you should accomplish in the hour or two before the crew arrives.
Congratulations, you’re ready to be safely fumigated. Stay somewhere comfortable for the next 48-72 hours and be ready to return home to a place free of destructive, disgusting little bugs.
There’s a bit of a debate surrounding fumigation in Orange County, but that’s because a lot of people aren’t really familiar with the proper method of performing a fumigation. If they had an understanding of the process, they wouldn’t be nearly as dramatic about it.
Their primary argument is that fumigation involved filling your house with poison gas, and there’s just no way for that to be safe. The common response is that tent fumigation is the only proven way to eliminate drywood termites — the kind that deals millions of damage to Orange County homes. But that response neatly avoids addressing the complaint, which is sad because it’s easy to address the complaint directly.
The chemical gas Vikane, a creation of Dow AgroSciences, kills drywood termites quite effectively. Used by nearly every company that does termite control in Orange County, it acts quickly, leaves no chemical residue on surfaces, and the potential dangers to humans can be easily avoided with proper preparation. The major reason why tent fumigation takes 2-3 days is that the Vikane needs time to seep into all of the tunnels that termites have bored into your wood, and another day to get back out of all of the nooks and crannies of your home. The third day is a safety precaution to give the termite experts time to go in and test to make sure that the termites are dead and that the gas is completely gone from your home.
It might seem odd to have ‘pre-prep’, but there’s a lot of details to take care of when you’re doing something as dramatic as fumigating your home. The pre-prep takes care of everything up to the tenting process.
In Part II, we’ll talk about the tenting preparations.
There is no shortage of termite control in Orange County, but that’s because it’s a very necessary service. Every year, termites deal millions of dollars in damage to homes across the OC. The only way to prevent the cost is to catch them early, preferably right as the hive moves in.
Termites eat constantly — but they don’t like the light, which makes them even more dangerous, because they’re hard to find. If you see something that looks like a long-grain rice with a head squirming across your porch at night, or something that looks like a long-winged ant buzzing around at twilight, it’s time to call up someone who can do a quality termite inspection. Orange County residents are particularly vulnerable to termites (more real hardwood is used in homes in the OC than in most other areas), so keeping an eye out is particularly important here.
Termites live in colonies, and many of them live in the wild, feasting on stumps and fallen trees. But every so often, a colony reaches critical mass, and by instinct and the power of the hive mind, they decide that it’s time to expand. The next generation will consist almost entirely of breeder termites — the winged-ant kinds — and they will scatter in small groups in every direction, searching for an appropriate place to set up shop. Woe betide you if they choose your home!
Once the breeders start breeding, they produce a new Queen and a batch of soldiers and workers. It’s the workers — the long-grain rice kind — that you have to look out for, because they’re the ones that chew tunnels through wood. They partially digest it and carry it back to the next and regurgitate it for the soldiers, breeders, and queen to consume. As the colony grows, the need for wood is ever greater, and the destruction worked by an ever-increasing crew of worker termites expands exponentially.
Because they operate iunderground, inside solid wood, and in other places that you can neither see nor reach them, there are few ways to get rid of termites once and for all. Fumigation is the best bet, but there are other chemicals as well. Call and talk to one of your local Orange County termite controllers about the options available to yo
When termite season hits and you see some winged ants in your front yard you’d be wise to look into fumigation. Orange County has several termite control centers that offer a variety of different methods of eliminating the bugs, but the simple fact is that chemical fumigation is the most effective way to make sure termites don’t damage your home any more than they already have.
Of course, you’d also be pretty wise to be a tad bit concerned about the idea of moving into a hotel while someone filled your home with poisonous gas for an entire day. It doesn’t sound terribly safe, does it? Well, fortunately, fumigation has been used for decades — long enough that the technology has been proven safe and effective.
The process is called ‘tenting’, and it essentially means that the fumigation company puts a huge tent over your entire home. They then replace the atmosphere in the tent with a toxic gas — often a product called Vikane — that kills termites dead. After the process is complete, the Vikane is sucked out of the tent back into a safe container, and the house is left to air out for a day.
After that day, professionals with very sensitive instruments make their way through your home and test for any remaining traces of the fumigant. If there are any, they clean it up, wait another day, and check again. 95% of the time, however, no traces are found and you are invited to return to your home.
Vikane is used by a majority of the companies that perform termite control in Orange County, because it’s relatively safe to non-termite life. It’s so safe that it’s not even a good product if you want to eliminate, for example, bedbugs or cockroaches. The tenting isn’t so much to keep the Vikane out of the neighborhood as it’s to keep it up against the outside of your home so that the termites that might be gnawing on your roof or wood paneling are killed as thoroughly as the ones inside.
In The best in Termite Control – Orange County Edition, Part I, we looked at two very important aspects of a termite control company: the inspection, and the termiticide. In part II, we’re going to take a look at the ‘back end’ of the inspection — two simple business practices that separate the men from the boys.
Many companies that perform termite fumigation — Orange County‘s included — like to advertise that they will return and treat again at no charge should the termites return. Unlike many other groups — like construction contractors, for example — there is no way for a termite control company to know that they have eradicated the threat. There is simply no technology that will detect a termite living inside of a block of solid wood.
For that reason, most re-treatment warranties have fine print that essentially says that the company will only come out and re-treat the same areas a second time and in an identical manner — basically useless wasting of your and their time — if the termites reappear. They specifically do not cover any wood damage that may have occurred because the first treatment failed. Make sure that, if your termite company offers a warranty at all, it includes both different and better treatments the second time around and it covers wood damage — not having those is basically not having a warranty at all.
Kind of an obvious one, it would seem — but the problem here is with accuracy. You can pay someone to come out to your home and spend a few hours hanging out and spraying some liquid on stuff. Or you can hire a termite control company that will give you a clear report of what they intended to do, and will stick by it. Give them the report that your qualified inspector (see Part I) gave you, and have them write a proposal for what they will do. Only once you know that can you accurately compare prices between one termite control company and another.
When it comes to termite control, Orange County has a few options, but they’re not all the same — not by a longshot. Over the next two posts, we’re going to talk about what makes a GREAT termite control company.
This is a short one. To be blunt, there is no way to accurately assess the actual extent of a termite hive — to much of it is below ground or inside the wooden structure of your home. To that end, it’s enough to say that a professional inspector won’t walk around jotting notes on the back of a business card — they’ll spend a few hours depending on the size of the home, and they’ll take copious notes. If your termite inspection — Orange County or otherwise — doesn’t put at least that much effort into it, get a new inspector immediately.
There are a lot of ways to kill termites. Organic or ‘green’ termite control options include Orange oil, Boracare, and Timbor; more effective chemical termiticides include Vikane, Termidor, Premise, and Dragnet. Be careful to ask, however, that your green termite control company is using a solution with a natural base as well — some will do silly things like put orange oil in a base of 90% benzol, which is highly toxic and not at all organic.
By law, Orange County residents will receive a “wood destroying organism report” before any fumigation or other termite control can be performed. Part of that report tells you exactly what termiticide is going to be used on your property. (If it doesn’t, your termite control company is breaking the law and you should find a new one.) Once you get that information off of the report, you can investigate it on the EPA website.
So-called ‘chemical free’ termite control companies claim that electrocution, heat treatment, freezing, or microwaves can be as effective as chemical agents. That is simply untrue, and some of them can have negative side effects as well. In particular, heat treatments and microwaves have been known to damage items around the house as well. At the moment, nothing beats chemical agents.
In Part II, we’ll talk about how to recognize the business practices of a great termite control company.
In the case of the termite, Orange County‘s nastiest bug, the phrase “eating me out of house and home” isn’t hyperbolic — they really can eat your house and home right out from under you!
Termites live in colonies that range in size from a few hundred thousand to several million, all in one giant extended family. They all act with incredible organization and a single purpose — to collect cellulose (i.e. wood). They use the cellulose to expand their hive, upon which they have space for more members — and thus need more cellulose. That’s why spotting even a single termite is very bad news; a single termite might mean a million more are eating away at your home.
If you see a termite, you need to order up a termite inspection. Orange County has several qualified inspectors ready to come out an investigate your home at a moment’s notice, so it won’t be difficult — the hardest part of the whole thing is knowing what a termite looks like.
Termites, like soldiers, come in ranks, and each rank has it’s own focused purpose.
Worker termites are the ones that eat your home. They are the only ones who can digest cellulose, so they collect it, bring it home, and then grotesquely regurgitate the digested product to feed the rest of the hive. Other workers tend to the queen and her brood, ensuring the survival of the next generation. It’s rare to see these beasts out in the open, but if you should find one, they look like squirming grains of rice.
Soldier termites have fly-like bodies (but no wings), six legs, and oversized heads with huge pincers. Soldier termites have the job of defending the nest from predators — most often invading ants who would like nothing more than to take over the hive.
Breeders are the males and females responsible for creating the next generation. They are only created when a given hive becomes too large to maintain, so if you see one, you know that they’re trying to move in. On the other hand, if you see an entire swarm, it means that the hive that’s expanding is very close by! Breeder termites look like winged ants with longer abdomens and a thicker waist.
No matter what kind of termite you lay eyes on, call a termite inspector immediately.