For termite control, call a professional

As warm days heat the ground and rain increases soil moisture, termites are spreading their wings and taking flight to find a new home. Oftentimes, the winged reproductives are the only evidence of the attacking colony.

With this in mind, I jokingly say there are two types of homes in Douglas County – those that have termites, and those that are going to get them. Unfortunately, termites are no joking matter. Here are some tips to help you identify and control these wood-destroying insects:

Control measures begin with proper identification. Termites are often confused with ants. Both insects are roughly the same size, have similar color and have wings when ready to reproduce. However, there are three key differences that can help you decide which one you have.

¢ The first difference is the antennae. Termites have a straight antenna compared to ants that have antennae that start straight, then turn 90 degrees.

¢ Next is the waist. Termites have thick waists, whereas ants have thin – as if they are wearing a belt that is cinched tight.

¢ The third difference are the wings. Although both are sexually mature and ready to reproduce, termites have two pairs of wings of equal size, compared to ants that have one pair larger than the other.

Once you determine that you do have termites, the next step is to take a deep breath and relax. Termites are not the end of the world, so there is no need to panic or make hasty decisions. Take time to find the best pest control company for your situation.

I do not recommend trying to treat for termites on your own. Trained professionals have the knowledge to find the infestation and treat properly to ensure good control.

There are many commercials on television, radio and in newspapers promoting termite control companies. Remember the old adages “buyer beware” or “you get what you pay for.” Contact at least three reputable dealers in the area. Talk with friends and neighbors to see whether they have had good luck and would recommend anyone in particular. Set appointments with each to have them to come to your home and evaluate the situation. Each company will have different control strategies with varying prices.

Take time to understand their recommendations and ask each prospective spray company these three questions:

¢ First, how extensive is the damage? Don’t rush to show them the problem area. Allow them to do their job fully. Compare each report. Did all three find the same amount of damage and in the same location? Be leery of a company that claims to find more “damage” but does not want to show it to you.

¢ Next, inquire about treatment options. Over the past several years, treatment methods have changed. Currently the most effective chemicals include Fipronil, Imidacloprid, Permethrin and Termidor. Also available are three baiting systems: Centricon, Exterra and First Line. Each control has different strategies and different costs. However, ask how and where they will be applying the treatments and how effective they will be.

¢ Finally, ask the cost. This is where you will see the most variation. I have seen bids from $550 to $1,400 for the same job. Once you have all the information, line up the bids and compare the processes, then begin making some decisions.