Termites are harmful to humans in that they can eat a home from the inside out. But unlike some other insects, termites don’t carry infection, nor do they bite or feed off people like parasitic bedbugs. So while they’re not harmful to your health, they can be extremely harmful to your wallet. The EPA reports that every year termites cause billions of dollars of structural damage in the United States. Immediate action and treatment is the best approach if you see signs of termites. The national average cost for an exterminator ranges from $250 to $400, but costs may be higher if you have a whole house infestation on your hands. Here are a few examples of average cost:
- Standard liquid treatment of subterranean termites: $3-$4 per linear foot. An extermination company may have a minimum service fee, such as $150, to come out and provide treatment, no matter how small the space.
- Liquid treatment of subterranean termites including foaming and drilling into concrete slabs: $4-$5 per linear foot.
- Liquid treatment of a 2,000-square-foot home for subterranean termites: approximately $400.
- Fumigation treatment of drywood termites: $1,200-$1,500 for a 30,000- to 35,000-cubic-foot home. Pros measure fumigation costs in cubic feet. Fumigation costs can also be affected by the number of stories in your home.
When you see signs of termites in your home, call a trusted pest control professional as soon as possible to handle the situation. Termites feed on wood, meaning they eat through the wood that makes up the frame, floors and other components of your house. Most people don’t know they have termites until they discover the damage done, because termites remain hidden underground or inside the wood they are eating. Keep on the lookout for these signs of termites:
- Water bubbles in your interior or exterior paint: If you poke at what look like paint bubbles and find termite droppings inside, it’s a sign of termite infestation.
- Frass: This is a fancy term for termite poop. Keep your eyes peeled for what look like six-sided salt and pepper droppings.
- Mud tubes: Subterranean termites move between their earth home and your house by building mud tunnels. Mud tubes under or along the side of your house or foundation are a sure sign of a termite infestation.
- Wings or swarming near your home: As a new colony is looking for a home, they fly (swarm), then shed their wings and burrow into nearby wood.
- Softening of wood or hollowed-out wood: Termites don’t like paint, lacquer varnish or other wood finishes, so they’ll eat inside the wood and leave the exterior finish like a shell.
The best way to get rid of termites is to act fast. Termites are a problem that will only get worse — and no matter how much you want them to, they usually don’t magically move out on their own. There are three main types of termites: drywood, dampwood and subterranean. Drywood and dampwood termites sneak through cracks in your exterior paint, nail holes, and gaps near windows and other openings and begin to eat through your wood. Subterranean termites enter your house from the ground up by creating mud tunnels. In all cases, they survive by eating the wood of your house. The type of termites you have can steer the treatment plan.
Methods of termite extermination include fumigation, use of pesticides, and use of natural elements that are poisonous to the bugs. The extent of your termite infestation will help determine the treatment method. If you have drywood or dampwood termites that have infiltrated all aspects of the wood in your home, the pest control pro may recommend enclosing the whole house in a tent and gassing the termites via fumigation. If you have subterranean termites, often the entire footprint of the home must be treated by drilling liquid treatments into the slab or foundation of the home to exterminate the colonies. In any case, once you see signs of termites, it’s time to take action and call a pest pro.