Hot Topics: Eradicating Termites

Termite tubes on the exterior of house.

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Original Post: Found a few termite mud tubes

bluesbreaker Member

I found the remains of three single, unoccupied termite mud tubes extending from a baseboard. I also found corresponding tubes on the outside foundation of the house. I have a typical stucco house with tile roof. I inspected inside of the house: baseboards, upper walls, window, and door area. I didn't find any other signs of mud tubes, frass, or wings. The termite tubes I found inside just ended abruptly as if the termites gave up. I have no wood structures attached to the house.

I always apply diatomaceous earth both indoors and outdoors on the perimeter most of the year, except when it rains. Most of the attic is inaccessible with tight quarters. I checked it as best I could but didn't find anything there yet.

I'm thinking about using nematode microscopic worms or applying additional diatomaceous earth paste on the foundation. What do you think?

bud9051 Member

Is your house built on a slab or does it have a crawlspace or basement? If it's on a slab, then those buggers might be living where you can't see their work. As for wings, in my area termites will swarm in the spring on a nice warm day. Within hours they are gone until next year.

bluesbreaker Member

My house is on a concrete slab. It has no basement or crawlspace.

PAbugman Forum Topic Moderator

Sounds like subterranean termites, meaning the main colony is deep in the ground around and under the structure. Like Bud said, slab structures with finished walls and ceilings are difficult to inspect. Sometimes the only evidence is when they break through into the visible living spaces.

Initially, subterranean termites send out exploratory mud tunnels to search for suitable wood. If moisture and other conditions are not conducive, they may abandon the tubes and give up. In your case, they may have abandoned the entire house or may have simply moved back into the darker void spaces. It’s always hard to determine the level of activity with termites even with a basement structure—but even more so with a slab structure. The evidence shows that termites have entered the void spaces of your house recently and I would treat my house thoroughly and professionally. You don’t want a “surprise” some years later.

Nematodes were a good idea that didn’t work for pretty much anything. Diatomaceous earth might work as a preventative if the house is built on top of a thick layer to include a deep perimeter. I’m not aware that this is done, and it can’t be done after the structure is built.

Modern termiticides are safe when applied by knowledgeable people following the label. My favorite is any of them with the active ingredient “fipronil”. There are termite baiting systems in use, but I’ve no experience with them. Both the liquid termite treatments and baiting systems are for subterranean termites only.

bluesbreaker Member

Thanks, Bugman. I'm working outside the house on a preventive plan now...

I dug the trench around the entire outside perimeter of the house. I'm doing this myself—I can't afford to hire an exterminator. To keep things simple, I'm not asking about drilling through concrete at this time. I understand how to apply the chemical in the trench.

I like the idea of rodding, too. I understand that you generally bore a hole about four feet down to the footing to pump the fipronil-based product into. It doesn't make sense to buy professional exterminator tools and equipment, so what can I use to bore the hole and deliver the chemical? Can I use a piece of rebar and then insert a long, narrow, hollow metal tube? Or could I also attach a long length of plastic tubing to my pump spray wand?
PAbugman Forum Topic Moderator

I wouldn’t worry about a soil rod or making a sprayer extension, etc. Use rebar to punch the holes about every foot or so. If you have a grinder, it could be helpful to sharpen to a point. If you can get a foot or two down, that will be good enough since you are on a slab. If you have access behind the bath trap you should look in there and treat it, especially if there's exposed soil. These are potential termite areas in slab constructed houses. Then, just flood the exterior trench as needed. Since fipronil is non-repellent, it isn’t as necessary to get a complete chemical barrier as when we used repellents, but being on a slab and only going down about a foot, you probably will get a good barrier anyway. What we need is for some of the termites to move in and out of the treated soil. All subterranean termites generally go back to the colony about every 24 hours. This is how the termiticide is transferred to others.

bluesbreaker Member

I could put some type of metal cap on the end of a cut-down piece of rebar when driving it into the earth. Here is another idea: use two, 24-inch pointed steel spikes end-to-end (or one long spike if sold) to drive the bore holes. (I'd leave the bath trap and under slabs for separate discussion, if needed. Thanks for the reminder.)

You don't think I need to insert a hollow rigid tube in the bore holes to facilitate downward flow of termiticide? How close to the foundation should I bore the holes? Should the holes go straight down or at an angle?

PAbugman Forum Topic Moderator

Before making the holes, you should make a trench about 6-8” wide and about 6” deep against the foundation. Make the holes in the trench and flood the trench with buckets or however you get the chemical into the trench. That will be good enough, especially considering you are on a slab and not a basement where the footer is 8-10’ below grade. I’d prefer that the holes go straight down as the termiticide is going to spread out anyway, although you could angle every other one towards the house or another interval, but it’s probably insignificant.

If some of the house perimeter runs downhill, be ready to kick in some dirt here and there to make dams so as to not overtreat the downhill trench and undertreat the uphill trench.

bluesbreaker Member

My bath trap area does not have an access panel or door, so I cut a 4-inch inspection hole in the drywall. I can see the tub waste pipe and drain pipe that goes into the ground. I don't have a great view because the pipes seem to be offset instead of centered with the spout.

I can pump termiticide in around the drain pipe area for sure, but I can't really see enough inside there to look for termite activity. There is insulation that hangs like a curtain. I had to lift up the insulation to get a limited view inside the wall cavity.

I ordered a 20oz container of of Taurus SC. It has the same ingredient as Termidor but is cheaper for some reason. Just wondered if anyone wanted to comment on this product. I'm waiting for the utility locating service to mark my property before I make deeper rod holes in trench.

PAbugman Forum Topic Moderator

Taurus SC is a fine product. We used a lot of Termidor, but when it went off-patent and the generics came out, we switched to Taurus and never regretted it.

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