When Brad, the exterminator from Orkin, arrived at my house, I was ready. We (I speak as the Queen) had moved all manner of barricading materials away from the walls of the garage, the back patio, and the greenhouse. You see, the exterminator was on our side and he was going to kill the subterranean termites that had taken up residence in our Idaho home’s sub-flooring. Orkin is NOT a planet from the outer reaches, but a pest control company in the Treasure Valley. And it was one queen against another, as the final goal was to get the workers to feed poison to the dreaded termite queen.
We had discovered the invaders when we went to repair some water damage in a bathroom floor. They were creepy, translucent white, and about 1/4 inch long. They retreated into unexposed wood as soon as they could, but they were still there. When the first Orkin man, David, came to evaluate, he stomped on the floor to show me how the soldier termites would buzz back in anger. I could just picture them in there plotting a nighttime raid of me in bed. I know, I’ve watched too many Disney movies.
I’m told that subterranean termites are the only kind of termites we have in this part of Idaho. The winters are too cold for the other varieties. The good part about this is that there is NO need to tent the whole house and vacate. The poison is placed in the ground and is not a problem for humans or pets. We were in the house the whole time, and the only thing I smelled was dusting spray from one daughter doing her chores.
The difficult part about it is that the poison has to be dug into the ground somehow.
- In the crawl space, the exterminator dug trenches all around the perimeter, as well as along the additional support structures in the middle of the house. A solution of Termidor (more on that in a bit) was hosed into the trench, then the trench was covered. The hose was threaded through a vent, so there was never any equipment snaking through the house.
- Around the house, where there was dirt, the poison was injected into the ground to a depth of about 10 inches.
- For cement and stone perimeters to the house, he had to drill first, then inject.
- All injections were about 12 inches apart. This allows for a complete band of poison around the house, as it soaks into the ground and spreads some.
- Our flag stone porch was drilled through a few places in the grout.
- All drilled holes were filled afterward.
The chemical control of termites changed about 13 years ago when the government banned the most common ingredient. It was stronger, but it was also detectable by the termites. (I am not speaking in favor of governmental regulations, just stating the facts about what happened as a result) Termites would avoid it and look for unprotected access points. The newer chemical, the Termidor that I mentioned, is not as strong or fast acting, but the termites don’t know it is there. They traipse happily through it, then it gets into their system, killing them in about 7 days. Meanwhile, they have regurgitated (like birds) to feed their young AND THEIR QUEEN!
One main thing you can learn from our termite experience is to take care of water damage as quickly as you can. The termites are attracted to moist wood. A slow drip is more useful to them than a flood, because they don’t swim. The availability of moisture means the colony never even has to leave the house by a tube, thus remaining even more invisible.
I am trying to look on the bright side of having to move so much stuff in the garage and from around the house. We exposed corners that I haven’t seen in years. We found a dead bird that had managed to die behind the air conditioning unit. I will try to take some time to do some sorting and tossing before putting things back. I will try to not have a nervous breakdown getting it done in the middle of spring gardening and while preparing for a wedding reception here in June. I will revel in the fact that the poison will also kill the ants and spiders that visit me without permission. I will act as Queen.