Cobb County Extension Service Horticulture

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1 Cobb County Extension Service Horticulture TERMITES AND THEIR CONTROL By GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Termites are one of the few groups of animals capable of eating and obtaining nourishment from cellulose materials that are readily available in homes and other buildings. These insects are able to digest wood because they depend on the protoza (one-called animals) in their hindguts to digest the cellulose, a major component in wood. Originally they were scavengers of dead wood in the forest, but as civilization developed, their natural habitat decreased and they were forced to seek out wooden buildings for a source of food supply. Termites are not one of the most costly economic pests. It is estimated that between $1-3 billion is spent annually for control measures and to repair the damage done by this insect. The majority of damage caused by termites in the United States is caused by the eastern subterranean termite. The colonies or nests of this pest are built in the soil from which they obtain moisture. From their nests, they range out to feed. Although they feed mainly on wood, they also attach any material containing cellulose (paper, books, cardboard, etc.) and can occasionally severely damage living plants by hollowing out the stems. Subterranean termites typically damage the interior of structural beams, flooring, etc. and leave the surface intact. The first signs of an infestation may be swarming of the reproductives or mud tubes on the surface of walls, joists, piers, chimneys, plumbing, and other locations. Other signs of a termite infestation include weak or broken structural members, blistered wood, and soil in cracks. The interior of a damaged beam typically has galleries containing mud. The damage is greatest to the soft spring wood. A homeowner does no discover some infestations until a floor or wall collapses. There are other types of termites that may attack wooden structures. Drywood termites are able to establish colonies in wood that is not decayed nor in contact with the soil. Drywood termites are a little larger that subterranean termites. The alates or swarming reproductives and soldiers are up to ½ inch long. The swarmers often have a reddish tint. Drywood termites are not considered a serious pest in Georgia. The Formosan termite, a native of China and Taiwan, was found in Charleston, S. C. in 1975 and in Houston, TX in Since then it has become established in Galveston, TX. New Orleans and Lake Charles, LA., and in Broward County, FL. Efforts have been made to limit the spread of this termite to points of entry. Infestations of this termite in Georgia have been limited to a few localized infestations. Each of these infestations was linked to infested wood (most frequently railroad ties) brought into Georgia from areas where the Formosan termite has been established. Page 1

2 Formosan termites are more aggressive than native species of termites and may displace them when foraging areas overlap. Formosan colonies may contain 4-5 million individuals. This termite has the unique ability to construct cartons and live without a ground connection as long as there is suitable constant water supply. Biology and Habits of Subterranean Termites Subterranean termites are social insects that live in nests or colonies in the ground. A colony, whether it has only a few individuals or has tens of thousands in it, is composed of three major forms or castes reproductives, workers and soldiers. Each individual passes through three stages during its lifetime egg, nymph and adult. The adult workers and soldiers are similar in appearance. They are both wingless and grayish white; however, the soldiers have larger heads and longer jaws. The works make up the majority of the colony and are the forms that destroy the wood. The soldiers guard the colony. Winged reproductive, or alates, are yellowish-brown to black in color and are a little less than ½ inch in length. They have two pairs of wings which are approximately equal in size and longer than the abdomen. The prenuptial flight or swarm occurs more frequently in early spring; however, it can occur anything during the dame during the months of February through May in Georgia. During each swarming season, alates will embark on a prenuptial flight in order to find a mate and establish a new colony. When emergence is within a building, alates are attracted to strong light and gather around windows or doors. Following the prenuptial flight, males and females (now called king and queen) pair in tandem. They come back to earth, drop their wings and commit themselves to their new location. They immediately being digging a new nest and lay the first eggs. If they are lucky, they will make through the first year. Several years must pass before the colony will be larges and stable enough to produce alates. A. Winged alate B. Worker C. Soldier Page 2

3 How to Recognize Termites Termites and ants can be confused. The termite workers, which are white and wingless, are often called white ants. There are several differences which can be readily seen. TERMITES vs. ANTS Termites Ants How Termites Invade Buildings Termites can enter a building by several methods: 1) through direct contact between the wood and soil; 2) through cracks or hollow spaces in foundation walls or piers - a termite can pass through a crack 1/32 of an inch; 3) through mud shelter tubes built over impenetrable materials; and 4) through expansion joints and plumbing inlets in a masonry foundation. No termite shield has yet been developed that is absolutely effective in preventing the passage of termites. How to Detect Termites in Buildings The appearance of winged or swarming termites is often the first indication of a problem. Although the swarm poses little or no immediate danger to the structure, it gives warning of termites in, or in close vicinity, and the homeowner should make an effort to locate the source from which they are emerging. Earthen shelter tubes constructed over surfaces of foundation walls or sometimes directly connecting the soil and the structure are another readily visible sign of termite infestations. These tubes are between ¼ and ½ inches or more wide. If it is in use, the inside is moist and there may be white workers present. If a section is broken, the workers will repair it as soon as possible because it is used as a passageway between the wood and the soil from which they obtain essential moisture. The tubes also protect termites from the drying effects of direct exposure to air. Page 3

4 Without the external evidence of winged termites or visible shelter tubes, it is more difficult to determine whether or not termites are present in a building. The first place to be checked is the wood that is near or rests on the ground. Weather boarding, wood supports, basement window frames, door casings, sills, etc. can be checked for soundness by being tapped with a hammer and probed with a screwdriver. If hollow wood is found, and it is the result of termite infestation, the soft portions of the wood will be eaten leaving the hard sections. QUESTIONS COMMONLY ASKED BY HOMEOWNERS Wood Infestation Reports (Clearance Letters) by GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Q: What is a Wood Infestation Inspection Report (also known as a Termite Letter or Clearance Letter)? A: These reports are issued by companies that are certified to do Wood Destroying Organism work in Georgia. The report lists any active or previous infestations of subterranean termites, drywood termites, wood decay fungi, powder post beetles, and wood boring beetles. This report also lists any conditions that are conducive to their infestation such a wood to ground contact, insufficient ventilation, wood debris in the crawl space, etc. Q: My company will not issue a Wood Infestation Inspection Report (WIIR) to me. Aren t they required to issue that to customers? A: No. Georgia law does not require a pest control company to issue a WIIR. Q: Are Wood Infestation Inspection Reports (also known as Termite Letters or Clearance Letters) required for the sale of property? A: No. Wood Infestation Inspection Reports are not required by Georgia Law. The real estate company and /or lenders may require the report. Q: Is it a requirement that the company treat my house when inspecting my house for a Wood Infestation Inspection Report? A: No. The only time the pest control company would be required to treat the structure is if you are already under contract with the company and an active infestation is found. Q: What will the Department of Agriculture do about a bad clearance letter? A: The Department has taken a firm stance on WIIRs that do not accurately reflect the condition of the structure. Each inspection will be evaluated on an individual basis. Past enforcement actions have included monetary penalties, adjustment of the company s license, require the company to correct conditions conducive to infestation, and in some cases, the company has lost the privilege of issuing WIIRs. Page 4

5 lost the privilege of issuing WIIRs. Treatment Standards TERMITES AND THEIR CONTROL Q: What termiticide should be used when treating the home for termites? A: The Department of Agriculture cannot recommend a specific product to be used. There are approximately 12 different termiticides registered for use in Georgia. Legally any one of these can be used for treating homes for termites. Q: I have found an infestation of termites at my house. Is the company required to retreat the entire structure? A: Not necessarily. An entire retreatment is warranted only if evidence indicates a total breach or failure of the termiticide barrier. Only the pest control company or a Department of Agriculture inspector can establish this. The Rules of the Structural Pest Control Act states in part that if there are three (3) or more separate infestations, the entire structure should be retreated. Q: What are the requirements for ventilation? A: Ventilation can be satisfied one or two ways. 1. One vent per 15 linear feet or portion thereof (add linear feet of all crawl space walls and divided by 15). Vents must be on at least 3 sides. 2. One vent per foundation wall (on at least 3 sides) plus at least 70% of the crawl space covered with plastic. Q: How can I tell if my home has been properly treated? A: It is difficult for the average homeowner to determine if his home has been properly treated due to different types of construction and treatment methods, including pre-treatment versus post construction treatment. If questions arise concerning a treatment, a request for inspection may be made. Some basic requirements include: 1. Removal of direct wood to earth contacts. 2. Six inch (6 ) clearance between wood on outside of the structure and the soil. 3. Trench around perimeter of the structure (and in the crawl space where applicable) and termiticide applied. 4. Ventilation installed in crawl space. 5. Wood and cellulose removed from the crawl space. 6. Areas where the company has drilled through block voids and slabs to inject termiticide. 7. Any other openings or penetrations in the slab treated. With pretreatments you may not see the drilling, but the removal of wood-earth contacts, clearance, and possible trenching should be evident. Q: Are the holes drilled for termite treatment required to be plugged? A: Holes that are drilled vertically through slabs are required to be plugged. Horizontal holes through brick, concrete blocks, and in the crawl spaces are not required to be filled. Q: What is the backfill? Page 5

6 Q: What is the backfill? A: After the home has been built and all landscaping has been completed, the pesticide control company is required to dig a trench (6 inches deep, approximately 4 inches wide) and apply a termiticide to the trench. Some of the soil is put back into the trench and more termiticide is applied. Finally the trench is filled with 1-2 inches of untreated soil. There should be 4 gallons of termiticide used per 10 linear feet per foot of depth. Q: Should my foundation wall be drilled? A: The regulations required that all hollow voids be drilled, including the foundation wall, support piers, chimneys, voids between foundation wall and brick veneer, etc. This is required because minute cracks can occur in the footer and termites may come up through the cracks and into the structure. Termites can move through a crack that is as small as 1/32 of an inch wide. If you do not wish to have holes drilled in your foundation, you must sign a Form II. Q: Are all new homes required to be treated for termites? A: No. Georgia law does not require homes to be treated for termites. Q: How often should my house be treated? A: There is no time requirement on the retreatment of houses. The chemistry we have today usually lasts between 5-7 years in our soil. EPA has determined that unless there is an active infestation, structures are not to be treated every year. Form II s Q: What is a Form II? A: The Form II is a document that allows you and your company to modify the treatment to your house. When a pest control company treats a structure, they are expected to meet all state requirements. However, due to the construction of the house, preference of the owners, or economics, the company may not be able to bring the company into full compliance. In that case, the company may ask the homeowner to sign a Form II. If the company cannot meet all standards and the homeowner will not sign the Form II, the company may not treat the structure. The Form II is valid only when all blanks are filled, all areas checked NO are fully explained at the bottom of the Form, and the Form II signed by both the homeowner and the DCO (operator of the office). Q: My pest control company has presented me with a Form II. Am I required to sign it? A: No. Q. I did not sign a Form II but the previous homeowner did. Does this affect me? A. Yes. Once a Form II has been properly executed, it becomes part of the permanent contract and passed to subsequent homeowners. Contracts Q. How soon after I discover termites should I have them treated? Page 6

7 A. In most cases, an infestation of termites does not damage a structure rapidly; you have time and should not be pressured into making a decision. In all likelihood, the termites have been in your home for a while and a few more weeks is not going to make that much difference. Take time to obtain several opinions in the long run, it could save you both time and future problems. Q. How do I know that the persons treating my home know what they are doing? A. All sales and service personnel must be registered or certified with the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Ask to see their Department of Agriculture registration or certification card. This will insure you that they are on file with the Department of Agriculture. Q. How should I choose a company? A. The Department of Agriculture cannot recommend a company but you can make an informed decision if you will follow these suggestions: a. Since there can be considerable variations in charges for the same treatment, you should obtain at lest three or four estimates for the treatment. b. Contact the Better Business Bureau for information about the companies you are considering using. c. Make sure that you obtain a signed contract before the work begins. d. You have the right to cancel most pest control contracts for up to three business days after signing. There should be a section in the contract explaining this information. e. If you have concerns as to the status of a company license or employee registration, you may contact the Department of Agriculture, Structural Pesticide Division for additional information. Q. Should I receive a graph with the contract? A. A graph of your home or other treated building noting any past or present infestations must be provided to the purchaser by the pest control company. This graph serves as a record of what infestations were present at the time of the treatment. Any infestations causing damage to your home that are found after the treatment and not noted on the graph should be repaired by the company if a repair contract is in force. Q: Is my pest control company responsible for damages to my home? A: It will depend if you have a repair contract or a retreatment contract. A retreatment or control contract is the most frequently issued type of contract. It requires a pest control company to retreat any area where termites are found after the original contract. It does not require any repairs to be performed if reinfestations cause damage. A retreatment contract requires only that the areas of infestation be treated, not the entire structure. A repair or damage contract issued by some companies guarantees the purchaser of such a contract that any damage to your home or infestation, which occurs after the original treatment will be repairs by the pest control company. Some of the repair contracts require that an active infestation must be found to qualify the area for repair. The amount of coverage in dollars should be clearly specified in the contract. Page 7

8 Q. What is the annual renewal fee? A. The annual renewal fee is similar to paying an insurance premium. To keep your contract up to date, you must pay the annual renewal fee. The company usually performs an annual inspection to see if any infestation has occurred in the past year. Q: My annual renewal fee keeps increasing. Can the company legally raise my renewal fee? A: There is no law that prohibits the company from increasing the renewal fee. Unless otherwise specified in the contract, the company may increase the renewal fee. Review your contract. It should tell you how long the fee is to remain fixed and if the company can raise the fees. Q. My contract calls for periodic inspections. What does this mean? A. If your contract calls for an annual inspection, it means that the company is obligated to inspect the structure around the anniversary of the contract. Some contracts call for periodic inspections. These contracts do not set an exact time for the inspection. It is EXTREMELY important that the structure be inspected at least once a year. If your company does not arrange to inspect the property you should call them. The inspection should take no less than one hour for most homes. A company cannot properly inspect a structure without inspection of the crawl space or basement. If the structure is on a slab, the company should inspect the inside of the house. Q: What action should a homeowner take if he is unable to get a copy of the contract from the pest control company? A: Our Department of Agriculture is charged with regulating the pest control industry. Although we would like to provide more assistance in many areas, we do not have the legal authority, and we are not a consumer advocate. The customer should request a copy of the contract via certified mail. If no response, he should contact the Governor s Office of Consumer Affairs. Telephone: or Q: Whom should consumers contact when they have questions concerning their pest control contract? A: The Department of Agriculture regulations only address treatment standards, licensing and Wood Infestation Inspection Reports (Clearance Letters). While the regulations require certain information to be included in the contract (length of contract, repair or retreatment, how long renewal fees may remain fixed, etc.), the Department does not have the authority to determine breach of contract. Such questions should be referred to the Governor s Office of Consumer Affairs. Miscellaneous Q: How long should my annual inspection last? A: It will depend on your type of structure. The technician s job is to thoroughly inspect the structure for presence of termites. The technician should inspect the outside of the structure, going behind shrubbery and other ornamentals, getting on hands and knees if Page 8

9 structure, going behind shrubbery and other ornamentals, getting on hands and knees if necessary, looking for mud tubes and other signs of termites. Attention should be paid around porches, patios, garages, and other areas where concrete slabs meet. These are common entry points for termites. If the structure has a crawl space, the technician should inspect the inside foundation walls and structural members for mud tubes and other signs of termite activity. This may include probing or sounding the wood (damaged wood is softer and will sound different that solid wood and a screwdriver will penetrate further into infested wood than into solid wood). The technician may come inside the structure to inspect around plumbing fixtures. Q: After the termite treatment at my house, there was a chemical smell. Will this harm me or my family? A: An odor after a termite treatment is not uncommon. What you smell is not the active ingredient which kills or repels the termites, but an emulsifier. Emulsifiers help mix the active ingredient with water to keep the active ingredient in suspension. These odors usually dissipate in several days. Extremely damp or wet conditions may allow the odor to linger longer. These odors should have little impact on the vast majority of people. If you have any health concerns, you should consult with your physician. Q. My pest control company recommends treatment with the new non-repellent termiticide Premise and Termidor. Are these effective? A. Only parts of the structure such as the exterior soil and similar areas are treated. This type of application is not recommended nor approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Georgia Department of Agriculture, nor the products label directions. The Department of Agriculture has established treatment standards that are designed to protect homes against attack from termites. Some pest management control companies are trying to bypass these regulations by getting consumers to sign a release, commonly known as a Form II. Termites & You, Part II Termite Baits How to Select a Termite Control Service Foam Insulation and Termites Useful Websites TERMITE BAITS by Georgia Department of Agriculture The Southeast has some of the highest termite pressure in the country. One can usually find one or more termite colonies nearby most buildings in Georgia. These termites, when feeding on fallen trees and stumps are considered beneficial. It is only when they attack structures that they become a problem. Finding termites in firewood, a stump, or nearby fence post does not mean that there are termites in your home. However, it does indicate that termites are in the area. Page 9

10 are termites in your home. However, it does indicate that termites are in the area. The conventional theory of termite control involves establishing a chemical barrier in the soil around structures that termites either cannot or will not penetrate. Recently, several termite baits have become available for use by both the professional pest control operator and the homeowner. The bait products combine a delayed-action insecticide with a palatable food for termites (usually sawdust or paper cardboard). The bait is placed in a container or station and installed either below the soil or attached to an active feeding site. The termites feed on the bait and spread it throughout the colony. Colonies that feed on these baits will eventually be reduced or eliminated. These methods of treating termites have advantages and disadvantages. The selection of bait versus conventional barrier treatment, or a combination, will largely depend upon the preferences of the homeowner. All pesticide applications must be consistent with label directions. Before using any pesticide, read and follow all label directions. CONVENTIONAL BARRIER TREATMENTS Advantages 1. Exclusion of termites from the structure is achieved faster than with baits. 2. Usually, a chemical barrier provides protection from termites for 5 years or more. 3. Long history of proven control. Disadvantages 1. Homeowners should not attempt to make their own barrier treatments. 2. Barrier treatments may have an odor associated with them. The odor may last for several days to weeks. 3. Treatment often requires drilling of slabs and other masonry components. 4. Care must be taken to prevent contamination of nearby bodies of water during application. 5. Barrier treatment does not eliminate the termite colony. TERMITE BAITS Advantages 1. No odor. 2. May be a safer choice to use around bodies of water. 3. Attempts to reduce or eliminate the termite colony. 4. Does not require drilling of slabs or other masonry components. 5. Baits have a low rating of toxicity to mammals. Disadvantages 1. Effectiveness of these products relies on termites finding the bait as they forage for food. If termites do not find and feed on the bait they will not be controlled. 2. Termites may not consume bait that is contaminated by other pesticides or Page 10

11 2. Termites may not consume bait that is contaminated by other pesticides or otherwise made unacceptable. 3. Some baits are dose dependent (the more bait the termite consumes, the quicker it will die). If termites die in or very near the bait station other termites may be repelled. 4. Frequent monitoring of bait stations is required. However, checking bait stations too often can cause termites to stop feeding at the stations. 5. Other termite colonies may move into the area once the original colony is reduced. HOMEOWNERS AND BAITS It is not recommended that homeowners rely on over the counter bait products as their only means to control termites. There are a few items that the do-it-yourself homeowner must keep in mind when using baits. 1. Termite control is not a one-time treatment. Termite control is a continual process. Installing a few baits around the home and walking away will not protect the structure. 2. Termite colonies are living systems. Once the number of termites in one colony is reduced, the neighboring termite colonies may extend their foraging borders. In addition, new colonies may develop from termite swarmers. Termite control is continuous for a long as the structure stands. 3. Care must be used when installing baits. Household chemical odors may be transferred to the bait and potentially repel termites. If the house has been treated with conventional liquid termiticides previously, the baits must be installed outside the barrier of treated soil. 4. Care must be used when checking bait stations. If termites are crushed during this process, the crushed bodies can repel other termites. 5. It is possible for termites to be active in a structure and not active in bait stations. As stated earlier, baits do not lure termites to them, the termites simply bump into them as they are looking for food. A thorough inspection of the structure performed by a professional pest control operator is critical for termite control. Termites: How to Select a Termite Control Service Beverly Sparks Professor and Extension Program Coordinator Entomology Termites are wood destroying insects common in most areas of the southeastern United States. They cause many millions of dollars of damage annually. Subterranean termites live in the soil and are found throughout the state. Drywood termites attack sound, dry wood and are most abundance in coastal areas. If you know or suspect that your home is infested with termites, retain the services of a competent, professional termite control company. Termite control requires specialized equipment and knowledge, which is only available from professionals. The following information will help you to select a termite control service. Page 11

12 1. Do not panic. There is no need to become unduly alarmed if you learn that termites are, or may be, attacking your home. Termites work slowly, so your house will not be ruined or collapse overnight. 2. Take your time. Do not permit anyone to rush you into purchasing termite control services. Take the time you need to make an informed decision. A delay of a few weeks will not make any difference. There is always time to purchase this service wisely and at your convenience. 3. If you are not certain that you home is being attacked by termites, locate reliable pest control firms and discuss their termite control services. Arrange for a thorough termite inspection, with the knowledge that prices for inspections, estimates and terms can vary significantly between companies. A proper inspection should include a written report that notes the location of areas damaged by either active or inactive termite infestations. The report also should include a description of where and how treatments will be made to control the infestation. A diagram of the structure should be included and is extremely helpful in indicating the location of structural features such as utility accesses, porches and areas of wood to soil contact, as well as areas with drainage or moisture problems in or near the structure. An estimated cost of control should also be included. Determine whether the estimate is a firm price and be cautious if it is not. If you decide to obtain more than one opinion, quote or inspection, let each firm involved know that other firms were contacted and what you have learned. As the consumer you are free to shop, but treat the companies with the same courtesy and respect you hope they will return as pest control professionals. 4. Understand various treatment methods. Soil treatments are used to establish a barrier between the wood in the structure and the termite colonies in the soil. Existing homes can be treated in various ways. With the sub-slab method, a special tool or tube is inserted through holes drilled in a concrete slab. The pesticide is injected through the tube into the soil beneath the slab. This method is used inside the structure, mainly where pipes protrude through the slab, as in bathrooms and kitchens. Injection also may be required along both sides of interior support walls, one side of interior partitions and along all cracks and expansion joints. At times it also is necessary to inject the pesticide through exterior foundation walls just beneath the slab. This method often is used to treat kitchens and bathrooms from outside the structure. Holes drilled in the slab should be no farther apart than 12 inches in order to get a good, continuous chemical barrier. Trenching involves excavating a 6 to 8 inch wide strip of soil adjacent to the outside foundation wall on slab homes. Homes on pier and beam foundations are trenched by excavating soil in an area 6 to 8 inches wide around all piers and pipes and along inside and outside foundation walls. Trenching is more time consuming, but provides a more consistent chemical barrier than rodding alone. Page 12

13 consuming, but provides a more consistent chemical barrier than rodding alone. Make sure that all soil returned to the trench is treated. Rodding involves the use of a long rod with a special tip that is used to inject chemical into the soil about every 12 inches. If applied properly, the pesticide will create a continuous barrier. Foam is used to apply termiticide to various construction features of a home. The formulation should be used to treat difficult areas such as chimney bases, dirt-filled porches and certain sub-slab areas. It is not suitable or effective for treating the soil directly. Termite baits combine a delayed action insecticide with a palatable food source (usually sawdust or paper cardboard) for termites. The bait is then placed in a container or station and installed either below the soil or attached to an active feeding site. As the termites feed on the bait they spread the insecticide throughout the colony. The colony is eventually reduced or even eliminated after feeding on the insecticide bait. In many cases a combination of treatment methods is used. Sub-slab injection may be used on porches, patios, breezeways, driveways, and entryways where separate slabs exist. Sub-slab injection or rodding are often used to treat bath trap areas of slab homes and areas where plumbing and electrical lines enter the slab. Foam is often used to treat difficult areas. Baits can be used as stand only treatments or in combination with barrier treatments where the baits are used in sensitive areas where it is not possible to apply chemical barriers. 5. Purchase services from a reliable firm. Buy termite control service with the same care and discrimination you would use in purchasing any other service for you property. Always be sure you deal with a reliable firm that is both licensed and certified to do termite control work. Here are some of the ways that you can investigate before you invest. Georgia has a pesticide use and applicator law under which all commercial pest control firms must operate. Each firm and each individual will have identification issued by the Georgia Structural Pest Control Commission. If a firm offers references of previous work, take time to check them carefully. If the firm is located in your town or city, make sure it has an established place of business. This can be checked through the Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau. If the firm is from out-of-town, it is even more important that you make sure the firm is reliable and has an established place of business. Most fraudulent operators work in communities where they are not known. Ask for references and check them carefully. Reliable firms welcome this approach. Page 13

14 and check them carefully. Reliable firms welcome this approach. 6. Beware of firms that: Profess to have a secret formula or ingredient for termite control. All termiticides must be registered by the Environmental Protection Agency. Have no listed telephone number. Show up unexpectedly and use evidence of termites in trees or nearby houses as an excuse to inspect the house. Cater to elderly or infirm people who live alone. Relatives and neighbors should warn elderly people to beware of persons who knock at the door and propose to do service work, including treating the house for termites. Claim to be endorsed by the University of Georgia or any other state agency. Claim to have excess chemical left over from another job and offer a reduced price if they can do the treatment immediately. 7. Before conducting a termite treatment, the pest control company proposing the treatment should present you with information which contains the following: A graph and description of the structure or structures to be treated. The name of the pesticide(s) to be used. Complete details of the warranty provided, including: o o o o o o areas excluded from treatment, if any; warranty time period; renewal option(s) and cost(s); obligations to re-treat or repair damage caused by termites within the warranty period; conditions that could develop as a result of the owner s action or inaction that could void the warranty; and signature of approval by a certified applicator. 8. Association membership. Membership in organizations such as the Georgia Pest Control Association or the National Pest Control Association is evidence that a firm has an established place of business, ascribes to a code of ethics and has access to technical literature for training and consultation. 9. Know the terms of the contract. Ask your termite control specialist to provide a written statement of the work he proposes to do and an estimate of its cost. The Page 14

15 written statement of the work he proposes to do and an estimate of its cost. The pest control specialist will give you time to consider his estimate. It is customary to provide a warranty on termite control work, either on a year-to-year basis or for a more extended period. Plan on extending the warranty for at least the first 2 or 3 years after the treatment is made. Make sure you know exactly what warranty the firm offers. Compare warranties carefully. A warranty is a guarantee of service, not a guarantee of the termite barrier or termite elimination. Guarantees that vaguely refer to termite control are unacceptable. Determine whether a yearly charge will be levied during the warranty period, or whether these charges are included in the initial price. Find out how much it will cost to extend the warranty for additional years and ask how long it can be extended. Remember that a warranty is no better than the person or firm who gives it to you. A warranty is not evidence that a firm is reliable. Most fraudulent operators use a showy contract and warranty as part of their sales promotion. Make sure you get copies of the contract and warranty for your records. You will probably be asked to sign a work order or contract when you engage a firm. Understand clearly what obligations you are assuming and what you will get in return. 10. Most firms are reliable, legitimate businesses respected in their communities. Most fraudulent operators are confidence men whose only purpose is to swindle people out of their money. The information in this publication should help you avoid these individuals. Foam Insulation By the Georgia Department of Agriculture Q: My company has told me that I have foam insulation or false stucco around my foundation. If I do not remove this or cut it off, they are going to cancel my contract or raise my renewal fee. Can they do this? A: It depends on the wording of the contract. Some contracts allow the company to cancel for various reasons. Unless prohibited by the contract itself, the company may raise the renewal fee. Q: What is the problem with foam insulation or false stucco? A: For several years, foam insulation below grade was required as part of the Model Energy Code. It helped insulate the footer and prevent cracking via expansion and contraction with seasonal temperature changes. In most cases, the foam extends inches below grade. During the past few years, we have discovered that while the termites do not feed on the insulation, they will readily tunnel through it. It allows the termites to bypass termiticides in the soil and get into the structure. Many university researchers and those in the industry are recommending that an inspection gap be cut into the foam starting at ground level and be between 3 and 6 inches wide. This should be done by a qualified individual who will properly seal the insulation; otherwise, there may be a problem with secondary invaders Page 15

16 properly seal the insulation; otherwise, there may be a problem with secondary invaders such as ants, roaches, earwigs, etc. Q: Who is responsible for the cost of cutting the foam insulation? A: Since this was part of the building code, responsibility for the cost is uncertain. You should contact the builder and see if he/she will help with the cost. WEBSITES GA Department of Agriculture Certified Pest Control Operators of Georgia Georgia Pest Control Association National Pest Control Association National IPM Network Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO) Pestweb by V, W, and R Pesticides and Pest Control- Univ. Nebraska Pesticides and Pest Control North Carolina State Try this link to type "Formosan termite" in the search section, for more information. Or you may obtain a hard copy of the entire Termites & You publication by calling the Cobb County Extension Service office at (770) Page 16

How to Select a Termite Control Service

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