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Oklahoma termites: 5 things I learned while dealing with them

by Richard Hall Modified: July 7, 2014 at 11:36 am •  Published: July 7, 2014
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“It’s not a matter of if, but when.”

That’s what Edwin Conant, owner/operator of Get’em Pest Control, told me about Oklahoma termites as he was digging a trench around my Norman home so he could apply a treatment to the soil.

See, a few days before Conant came out to my property, I noticed a tube made of dirt extending out of a corner of our living room window. Thinking it might be an insect nest, I cautiously poked it with a stick, which caused it to crumble. No bugs inside, so I began Googling and determined it was one of two things: insect dung, or a termite tube.

For some reason I was more concerned about it being insect doodoo than termites, because then I’d feel very unclean in my own house.

Luckily (maybe?), a further inspection of the window’s trim revealed some soft spots in the wood. I made a hole in the wood and, low and behold, I spotted some subterranean termites.

The whole ordeal taught me a few things, and since it’s “not a matter of if, but when” Oklahomans have to deal with termites like I did, I figure I’ll share what I learned. Hopefully it can make things a bit easier on you.

5. Don’t freak out

Last night's terrible decision(s), or termites? It's termites.
Last night's terrible decision(s), or termites? It's termites.

Alright, so you find out you’ve got some termites. It’s time to just freak out, right?

Nope!

Unless your infestation is a Defcon 1-level situation (house, literally, falls apart before your very eyes, the floor caves in, etc.), then you shouldn’t let these bugs bother you too much. That doesn’t mean sit back, sip on an iced tea and just let them continue chomping, but it also doesn’t mean it’s time to take a flamethrower to your abode. According to Richard “The Bugman” Fagerlund, a syndicated newspaper columnist and author, the average termite colony eats a pound of wood in five years, which means they’re slow eaters.

Get an inspection by a reputable pest control company, get some quotes for treatment cost, and go from there. An inspector can also sometimes tell you about the extent of damage to the wood in your home, depending on how accessible that part of the house is.

 

4. There are different kinds of termites?

Like most insects, there are multiple kinds of termites out there in the world. All of them are as old as the dinosaurs, all of them destroy wood and the sum of their damage comes to about $5 billion every year.

There are three major types of termites, according to PestWorld.org:

The three major kinds of termites in the United States are dampwood, drywood and subterranean. Dampwood termites commonly live in heavily forested areas of the country as they prefer wet wood; while, drywood termites, much more rare in the United States, prefer extremely dry wood. Subterranean termites require moist environments, live mainly in the soil and are the most destructive species.

Good to know!

PICTURED: The termite treatment process requires that holes be drilled every 12 inches into the concrete surrounding a structure, and that the treatment solution be poured into them. That is what those holes look like. Here are the tools used to spread the solution into the ground:

 

3. Inspect, inspect, inspect

Get a yearly inspection, and go with a reputable company. I wonder if this could’ve been caught sooner had I not gone a few years between inspections.

Pictured above is Conant as he digs a trench around my house. The trench is required to be six inches deep and six inches wide. Then, the termite juice (poison) is mixed with water, like so:

And gallons upon gallons of the solution is sprayed/poured into the trench:

The soil soaks it up, the poison reaches the termites and their colony, and, God-willing, you’ve got dead termites.

 

2. Termites hate ammonia

After Conant finished his inspection I asked him what I could do to the termites we found in the wood trim, because I thought I would have to run to the store to pick up some fancy pants bug killer.

“Windex,” he said. “Really, anything with ammonia in it. They hate the stuff.”

So, Windex it was! I sprayed around the entire area and inside the holes I had made, and let gravity (and nature) take its course.

“Termites travel up and down, taking things back to the colony,” Conant said. “They’ll run into the ammonia and eventually die.”

 

1. A treatment is an investment

The size of your house/structure will determine the cost of the treatment, so it can range from relatively inexpensive to

A termite treatment can last many years, and since a house is one of the largest investments most people will make, why not invest in the well-being of that investment?

Oklahoma is a vulnerable place, one that Conant puts into the “moderate” zone. The further south you get, the more termite issues you encounter. Oklahoma, however, has a good mixture of ingredients that are irresistible to termites.

“Everything warms up in the spring,” Conant said. “And when that’s mixed with increased moisture, the termites come out.”

 

 

There you have it. Hopefully my experience can benefit you, and hopefully you never have to deal with termites. But, if you do, remember:

by Richard Hall
Newsroom Developer
Richard Hall is an award-winning newsroom developer, editor and blogger for NewsOK. He was born in Austin, Texas, spent his childhood in southern California and has lived in Norman since 1999. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2008.
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