How Do You Get Rid of Termites? The Ultimate Guide

Termites are a menace that plagues every state in the United States, except for Alaska. 

Termites are notorious, wood-destroying pests that will eat away at wallpaper, flooring, fences, and wooden structures from the inside out, making it difficult for homeowners to realize that they have a termite problem until considerable damage is often done. It’s even estimated that termites cause over $5 billion in damage each year in the US and over $40 billion of damage worldwide annually. 

In addition to this, many homeowners’ insurance policies don’t cover termite damage, which can be costly to fix on top of the expense of treating termites in the first place. Unfortunately, these pests won’t go away on their own. Some sources even estimate that it can take up to five years for termite damage to be visible to the untrained eye due to the slow way that termites chew through wood from the inside out. This makes it difficult for the average homeowner to know if termites are on their property, which is why regular termite inspections are vital to keeping these bugs off your property and catching termite problems before serious damage is done. A pest control professional, like Terminix, can perform regular inspections to ensure that termites don’t sneak up on you. 

Termite Inspections: The Process

Termite inspections typically cost around $75 to $150 per inspection. However, some companies may waive this fee if they find termites on your property and you hire them to treat the termites. Scheduling a termite inspection is simple. Start by choosing a company and booking an inspection online or over the phone, and select a time that works best for you. Remember that you’ll want to be at home for the inspection so that you can give the inspector full access to your garage, shed, and other wooden structures that they’ll want to inspect for termites. 

Depending on the company, you may need to do a little prep work. We recommend making sure that the technician can easily access important areas, such as your garage, attic, sink, crawl space, and shed if you have one. Remove anything blocking expansion joints in your garage, or that blocks the entrance to your crawl space so that they can properly examine this area for termites. 

During the inspection, your pest control technician will examine your home’s interior, exterior, and other structures for signs of termites, such as damaged wood, mud tubes, and shed wings. They will look for signs of different species of termites, especially if you live in an area where both subterranean termites and drywood termites can thrive. Depending on the size of your property, this can take some time. Once they’ve completed their inspection, the technician will share their findings with you and propose a personalized plan for eliminating the termites on your property. 

What Termite Inspectors Look For

Termites have several tell-tale signs that your termite inspector will be on the lookout for. You may even notice some of these signs yourself, which is often an indication of a widespread termite infestation that has been left to grow. This is why termite inspections are so necessary, as most homeowners are not equipped to properly inspect their homes for termites until massive damage has already been done. 

Mud Tubes

Subterranean termites are common throughout the United States, and as their name suggests, they live underground. To accomplish this, they build narrow passageways, otherwise known as mud tubes, from wood and soil, allowing them to travel to the surface easily. By connecting these wood shavings to the ground, termites are protected from predators and have easy access to their food sources. If you spot mud tubes, you likely have subterranean termites. However, not all termite species create mud tubes, so if you don’t have any, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in the clear. 

Wood Damage

Wood damage by termites starts from the inside out. Try knocking on wood around your property and listen for any hollow sounds. If you hear hollow sounds, this means that the wood is damaged somehow. However, this is not necessarily a sign of termites as there are other wood-destroying insects, like carpenter ants and carpenter bees which can also destroy wood. Check for subterranean termites by opening up the inside of the wood and examining it for tunnels parallel to the grain of the wood. 

Frass

Frass, also known as termite droppings, is an easy sign to look for when inspecting your home for termites. Frass looks like small, granular, oval pellets. You’ll typically find frass near door frames, windowsills, and baseboards. 

Peeling or Bubbling Paint

Subterranean termites damage walls and drywall, which can cause your paint to peel or bubble suddenly. Remember that paint can bubble or peel for various reasons, so this isn’t a surefire sign of termites. However, if you notice peeling or bubbling paint alongside other termite activity signs, then you probably have termites in your walls. 

Live Termites

Subterranean termites have a creamy white body. However, live termites are small and difficult to see, so this is usually a poor way to identify if a property has termites. Even if you spot a termite, you may mistake it for an ant due to its similar appearance. When they are swarming to reproduce, they will have wings which cause some people to identify them as flying ants mistakenly. However, reproductive termites have multiple sets of wings equal in length, while flying ants have much larger front wings. 

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Different Types of Termites

Subterranean Termites 

Subterranean termites live in the ground and travel through an extensive system of mud tubes they build over time. These social insects create huge colonies and can cause serious damage to your home and other wooden structures. Their mud tubes allow them to reach food sources easily and protect them from open air, which can dehydrate them over time. Unfortunately, these pests are found in every state other than Alaska. Like other social insects, they have a king, queen, and alates. Once a colony has hit its peak size, alates will swarm and fly to create the next colony. 

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites are usually found on the Pacific coast, especially throughout California. Unlike subterranean termites, they do not need to be in constant contact with the soil for moisture. Instead, they live in cool, humid areas and live deep inside wood. Most homeowners realize they have drywood termites when they spot swarms of them. Frequently, drywood termites have to be treated via a whole-structure treatment, like fumigation, because drywood termite colonies are widespread throughout a property, rather than localized to one area like subterranean termite colonies. 

Areas To Inspect For Termites

Garage

Garages are havens for termites because many homes have structural joints, stored wood or firewood, and other wooden components in their garages. Regularly check this area for signs of termites, especially if your garage is connected to your home, as this makes your home a more vulnerable target. 

Attic

Attics often have exposed and easily accessible wood, which is a haven for termites. On top of this, most attics are undisturbed and quiet, which suits termites. Examine your attic regularly for mud tubes and wood damage. 

Crawl Spaces

Termites prefer moist, humid environments, which crawl spaces often offer. If possible, avoid wood to soil contact around your home and inside your crawl space to discourage termites and other pests from gathering there. 

Cracks

Foundation cracks are attractive to termites because they provide termites with protection from predators and access to the soil underneath. If you have foundation cracks, we recommend having these immediately filled in. 

Anything Made From Wood

Termites need access to wood, specifically the cellulose in wood, to thrive. This makes any wood on your property a liability, so regular termite inspections and preventative measures are key to preventing termite problems. 

Structures

Any wooden structures on your property, such as decks, arbors, or sheds, are at risk of termite infestations. Consider looking into termite treatments and sealants to discourage termites from making these their new home.

Deadwood

Examine deadwood, such as fallen tree branches in your yard, for termites damage. To prevent termites and other wood-destroying pests, regularly clear your property of deadwood.

Wood Fences

Wood fences are common areas for termites to make their home. Examine your fence closely for termite damage and consider using a termite-resistant chemical barrier on your wooden fence to discourage termites. 

Firewood

Piles of firewood are attractive to many pests, including termites. We recommend keeping firewood stores off the ground and away from the perimeter of your house to make it difficult for termites to infiltrate your firewood and use it to get to your home. 

Wood Mulch

Wood is a fantastic ingredient for many mulches, but it’s also desirable to drywood and subterranean termites, which may use it as a shelter or food. If you live in a termite-prone area, consider other types of mulches. 

Calling A Professional Pest Control Home Inspector

Termites are a pest that is best left to professionals because they create prolific, large colonies that can quickly destroy a home’s foundation, wood, and much more. The cost of fixing termite damage is usually far more than the cost of treatment, so don’t hesitate to call a professional to deal with your termite problem. It will likely save you far more money and headache in the long run than attempting a DIY solution. 

Terminix 

Terminix was the first company to receive a patent for termite control, and, to this day, they are well known for their excellent termite treatments. With over 90 years of experience in the industry, you can’t go wrong with Terminix termite treatments. They offer multiple termite plans that feature things like annual termite inspections, The Nix Guarantee, OnGuard Termite Protection System, and ongoing pest control to ensure your termite problem is a thing of the past. 

Orkin

Orkin is another well-respected pest control company with decades of experience treating termites. After inspecting your home, Orkin will create a custom treatment plan tailored to your home’s needs. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee and will return to your property to retreat for termites in between scheduled visits if you spot more pests. 

Compare The Top Pest Control Companies

Provider Terminix Orkin
Free quote Yes Yes
Our take Best Overall Best Emergency Service
BBB rating C+ A+
Annual cost $550+ $575+
Availability 24/7 customer service support 24/7 customer service support
Live termites eating wood. Frass or wood droppings present.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are signs I have termites?

Common signs of termites include mud tubes, shed wings, frass (termite droppings which are small, dark pellets), damaged wood, and peeling or bubbling paint. If you spot flying termites or what looks like flying ants, you may also have termites swarming to create a new colony nearby. The best way to look for termite signs is by examining wood throughout your property by knocking on it. If it sounds hollow, then you likely have termites or some kind of wood-destroying pest that is destroying the wood from the inside out. 

What chemicals kill termites?

There are many available chemicals, pesticides, and termiticides on the market to kill termites. However, termites create expansive colonies that are not easily eliminated without professional help. While it may be tempting to DIY a termite solution, it’s a pest that is truly best left to professional treatment. 

How did I get termites in my home?

Termites may have entered through cracks in your home’s foundation or eating through wooden beams or the exterior of your home. 

What is the fastest way to get rid of termites?

The quickest and best way to get rid of termites is to call a termite professional, like Terminix. Trained professionals are equipped to identify termites and create a personalized treatment plan that will work efficiently to kill termites. 

How much does it cost to get rid of termites?

Termite costs can vary dramatically depending on the size of your home and the severity of the infestation. Different types of treatments, like fumigation, may also cost more than other treatments like drilling or foaming termites. On average, you can expect to pay at least $500 for termite treatments. 

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Best Localized Pest Control

House Method Rating & Methodology

Our research process involves a multi-step process to get real insights into the customer experience for each company. We contacted each pest control company directly and spoke to representatives via phone and online chat (if available). This allowed us better understand the company’s treatment offerings and customer service. We also consider BBB accreditation and what customer reviews say about each company. Additionally, we fact-check and update company data regularly to ensure accurate and up-to-date information. 

We developed a 100-point rating system to compare the companies numerically. 

  • Plan options (35 points): Companies with more plans and flexibility on services to address specific issues were given a higher score. 
  • State Availability (5 points): Those that offer coverage in fewer than 45 states were deducted points for availability. 
  • Trustworthiness (10 points): This is based on whether companies have money-back guarantees, service guarantees, and additional satisfaction assurance measures.
  • Customer Service (30 points): We considered accessibility (including on weekends and holidays) of technicians and customer support. 
  • Additional Benefits (20 points): Companies that offer further conveniences such as an app, comprehensive resources, and other benefits were rated higher. 

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