Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Termite Prevention

Termites can put your home in danger. Here are some considerations for preventing termites calling in the professionals from the people at the

Whether you have just moved in to a new home or have been settled in one for years, it is important to keep up with termite prevention. Termites are focused in their pursuits, they are abundant in number, and they are probably nibbling on your home right now. One of the few insect colonies to eat continuously, a typical single termite colony can completely consume 2.3 linear feet of 2x4 pine in a single year. If that does not sound like much to you, consider the seriousness of the situation if that 2x4 was also one of the supporting beams of your house. Keep in mind also that where there is one termite colony there are usually others, clustered together in pursuit of food. Suddenly, that 2.3 linear feet seems significant, and it is, especially when it is multiplied four or five times.

Termites are one of the biggest contributors to home destruction, costing a staggering $1 billion in damages each year. Thanks to the importing of the voracious Formosan termite from East Asia, that amount continues to skyrocket. Think about the following numbers for a moment. A termite colony consists of anywhere from 350,000 to well over a million workers, soldiers, and swarmers (termites with wings). A single termite queen can lay thousands of eggs per day and live between 30 and 50 years. That means a queen can recoup her losses and repopulate her colony even after tremendous devastation. The best way to fight this foe is to prevent them from ever touching your home.

Before we can look at how to prevent termite infestation, let’s look at the conditions that attract these insects to an area:


Most termites are subterranean, meaning that they build their colonies in the ground. They love the soil and build elaborate tunnel systems, called galleries, extending up to three feet below the surface. Termites will often use this versatile building material to create mud tubes leading from their underground colonies to above ground food sources, like the wood in your home.


Termites will consume any material that contains cellulose, and since wood contains a great deal of cellulose, termites devour wood voraciously. If a single piece of wood touches the ground, be certain that a colony of termites somewhere will know about it. Although some subterranean termites will consume other materials like vegetation, dung and humus, their primary source of food, and their favorite, is wood.


As with most living things, termites generally cannot survive without a source of water present. Whether in the form of a leaky faucet or the natural precipitation process of rain, termites will always seek some source of moisture to survive.

Now that the three conditions for termite survival have been identified, we can now look at how to prevent termites from infesting your home.

1. Identify and fix all water leaks in your home, both internal and external. As mentioned above, termites need water, and it does not matter where they get it. If the water source comes from your home, all the better for the colony. It means they do not have to work as hard. Eliminating their water source removes one of the three requirements for survival.

2. Remove any brush or heavy growth from around your home. Vegetation can create areas of intense moisture, which is necessary for colony survival. Termites like it wet, so try and disappoint them as much as possible.

3. Eliminate any standing or pooling water from around your home.

4. Store all excess building materials and firewood away from the house. Remember that wood is their primary food source. Scrap wood touching the ground is an open invitation to hungry termites. If your property is not large enough for wood storage away from the house, create barriers beneath the wood to prevent direct access to the termites. Thick concrete slabs or heavy duty metal stands can be used to raise the wood off of the ground.

5. Use treated lumber for any wooden structures that will have direct contact with the ground. The chemicals in treated lumber do not guarantee that termites will not invade the wood, but they can act as a deterrent for decks and patios made out of treated lumber. Home improvement centers now offer concrete supports that raise the wooden support beams for decks and patios off of the ground. This would be a great way to avoid wood to ground contact.

6. Avoid using mulch near your home. Mulch provides two things to hungry termites: a food source and a water source. The qualities of mulch that make it attractive for use in the garden are the very qualities that attract termites. If mulch is placed near the exterior of your home, it is only a small step for a colony to move into your walls. As an alternative to wood mulch, try using one of the newer rubber mulches now available at your local home improvement center. They have the look of mulch and the benefits of mulch without providing the risks.

7. Never bury waste lumber or wood scraps in your yard. It acts as a magnet to termites and directs them to your property.

8. Remove any dead trees, old stumps, or roots in your yard. As these items decay, they attract termites to the area by providing a food source. When the food is gone, the termite colony will look for new sources of food. This includes your house.

9. Seal any cracks or holes within the foundation of your home. This will help prevent easy access for wandering termites.

10. Keep all gutters and waterlines clean of debris. Clogged gutters and waterlines leak, creating pools of water close to the house.

11. Make sure your home is properly ventilated, including your attic and internal crawl space areas. Adequate airflow prevents the buildup of moisture needed by termite colonies.

12. Periodically, get your home inspected for termite damage. A once-a-year inspection can save your home with early detection. If termites are not found in the home, the trained pest control specialists can at least offer recommendations to help you prevent an invasion. They may catch something you missed.

So what happens if you take all of these precautions and termites still begin to munch on your home? Use a pest control specialist in your area to help you deal with the problem. Here are a few of the insect pest control options that are currently on the market:

Liquid Termiticide

This liquid pesticide is generally applied around the foundation of the house, as well as underneath the foundation. For new construction sites, the termiticide is applied to the graded soil as the home is being built, but for existing buildings, the foundation is partially dug out and drilled to ensure proper coverage. There are termiticides on the market that act as barriers and repellents to termite invasions, and there are termiticides that act as nerve poisons, killing the termites upon exposure.

Subterranean Bait

Rather than acting as a deterrent to termite invasion, termite baits attempt to eliminate the colony at its source. Bait stations are set in the ground every ten feet or so around the perimeter of the home. The treatment begins when untreated wood segments are installed in the bait units to determine if termites are active around the house. The units are checked once a week, and if live termites are found, the wood is replaced with a toxic bait that is ingested by the termites and carried back to the colony. The toxins in the bait affect the termites by preventing the molting process, causing them to die "within their shell." This long acting toxin allows the termites to both ingest the poison and carry it back to share with their colony. Special bait units can also be installed inside the home if termites damage is evident. A new series of bait traps have been developed by Dow Agrosciences to fight the more aggressive Formosan termite, which can penetrate cement, brick, heavy duty plastics, and high-pressure water lines just to get to food and water sources.

The best treatment option is a combination of termiticides and bait units setup both in the ground and throughout the house. Termites are hard to kill, and they are even harder to eradicate, so be tenacious in your efforts. Your best bet is to call a professional to help you. Over the counter solutions do not offer the same level of effectiveness that professional grade products do. Your house is one of your greatest commitments you will ever make. It is worth protecting the right way by getting the help of professionals who know what they are doing. In this case, an ounce of termite prevention really can take you far, ensuring a better chance of keeping these nasty bugs from eating up your investment before you have a chance to truly enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Protect your home from a wide variety of pests with Servall Pest Control. Serving the Western Kentucky region all year long. Learn more at!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Termites can put your home in danger. Here is some natural tips for preventing termites you should try before calling in the professionals from the people at the

If you have a home built with wood or wood structures on your property, chances are you have termites. Try these nontoxic ways to prevent those destructive pests from eating you out of house and home.

1. Inspect your property annually, using a plan of each structure to ensure consistent and thorough monitoring. Keep yearly records and track insect damage.

2. Identify infestations and type of termites (subterranean, dry wood and so on). Look for the characteristic mud tunnels of burrowing termites and for termite "dirt" piles under wood ceilings and structures, the telltale signs of dry wood termites.

3. Use termite-resistant building materials whenever possible. Redwood, cedar and juniper are all wood species that are less favorable to termites.

4. Eliminate standing water and chronically moist soil near your home. Termites need moist soil to survive and are attracted to wet areas.

5. Lay films of 6mm polyethylene in crawl spaces under foundations as a moisture barrier between the soil and subfloor framing.

6. Create and maintain good cross-ventilation through foundation wall vents to keep those crawl spaces as dry as possible.

7. Slope all exterior grades away from wood structures to maintain good drainage.

8. Prune back plants close to your home to prevent moisture and mold buildup on wood walls.

9. Water away from your home and adjust sprinklers to keep them from spraying directly onto wood walls and siding.

10. Seal all wood exposed to moisture using a weather sealer, especially exterior window frames and the bottom of wall edges.

11. Move all wood scraps and debris away from wood structures.

12. Create sand barriers in crawl spaces and under fence posts, patios and steps to deter subterranean termites. These termites cannot tunnel through sand.

13. Dig trenches 4 inches deep and 6 inches wide around wood structures. Fill the ditch with 16-grit sand (granules that are too large to be carried away and too small to be used to construct tunnels).

14. Fill cracks and repair broken seals in foundations and patios with 16-grit sand. This is especially helpful after foundation settling and earthquake damage.

Protect your home from a wide variety of pests with Servall Pest Control. Serving the Western Kentucky region all year long. Learn more at!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

5 Pest Prevention Tips for Fall

Changing seasons means changing pest patterns. Here are some easy pest prevention tricks to try before calling in the professionals.

1. Seal any openings around your home

Utility openings where wiring or pipes come into the foundation or siding of your home are common entry points, as well as areas around gas meters, dryer vents and outdoor facets. Small openings as tiny as 1/16 of an inch or less will allow in spiders and other insects, and 1/4 inch openings are big enough to allow in mice. The larger the gap, the larger the pest that can enter your home. You can use caulk, expandable foam, copper mesh or even cement to seal up any of these areas.

2. Seal cracks and gaps around windows and doors

Use weather-stripping or silicone or acrylic latex caulk to seal cracks and gaps around windows and doors. Before you seal these areas, they should be cleaned and any caulk that has been previously installed should be removed to make sure the new caulk adheres well. If you have a garage that is attached to your house, you may want to fit the bottom of your garage doors with a rubber seal, which will both keep annoying pests out and keep heat in during the winter. Sliding glass doors can also be sealed along the bottom track with foam weather-stripping.

3. Examine window and door screens for rips and holes

If any rips or holes are found, they should either be mended or the screens should be replaced entirely. Large gaps in screens will allow in flies and other larger insects, but some insects are small enough to fit through window and door screens that are free from any tears, so keeping doors and windows closed is the best way to keep all insects out of your home

4. Install a chimney cap

If you have a chimney, installing a chimney cap can keep out birds, bats and other wildlife that may try to spend their winter inside your home. If you have attic vents, installing 1/4 inch wire mesh will keep bats, squirrels and rodents from infesting your attic and even getting inside the walls of your home.

5. Survey the conditions around your home

Is the exterior of your home inviting to pests? If you have a woodpile near the house or trees or shrubs nearby, you could be creating a welcoming environment for insects. It’s just a short leap for them to move from the nearest shrub to your front door, so keeping woodpiles, trees and shrubs away from the immediate areas around your home can help eliminate the insects that may be attracted to the inside of your home. The lighting you have at your front or backdoor can also be inviting to insects. Insects are not attracted to sodium vapor lighting, so this can be used to deter insects from the areas around your home as well.

If you use all of these tips, not only will you have a home that is safe from unwanted pests, but you will also improve the energy efficiency of your home, keeping your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. If for some reason one of these prevention tips fails, or you already have an infestation of insects or rodents in your home, contacting us is the best way to get rid of them. We have the tools and knowledge needed to completely get rid of any pest infestations.

Protect your home from a wide variety of pests with Servall Pest Control. Serving the Western Kentucky region all year long. Learn more at!