Structural Pest Control Board

Common Questions and Answers For the Consumer Regarding Termites

What should I do if I have termites in my home or if I think termites are damaging my home?

Do not panic.  Most types of termites do their destructive work very slowly, so your house will not collapse overnight.  If your house has never been treated for termites by an exterminator, contact several local pest control companies and get estimates for their termite control services.  These same companies can inspect your house to see exactly what types of pests are attacking your home.  If you are not sure you have a termite infestation, an inspection will reveal if a visible termite infestation is/is not present.  If you have termites swarming (flying around) in your house, the swarmers can be combated using a variety of over-the-counter pesticides designed for flying insects that are available to homeowners.  Termites generally swarm once a year for a period or about twenty-four (24) hours.  The swarmer is the reproductive form of the termite, and does not do damage to wood.  It is helpful to save several of the swarmers in a plastic bag for the inspection by your local pest control operator before a termite treatment is performed. 

What chemicals or techniques are commonly used for termite control, and how safe and effective are those chemicals?

Currently, several chemicals on the market are commonly used for termite control.  Additionally, some companies use a technique called “ termite baiting”.  The baiting technique involves the installation and monitoring of bait stations intended to attract termites.  Once the termites have been detected in the stations, the bait is changed to use a bait that has been treated with a termiticide which, when carried to the colony or nest and fed to other members of the colony, will kill the individuals that receive the bait.  Termiticides are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Termiticides are considered an acceptable means of termite control.  A consumer should receive disclosure information, including a label of the termiticide that is being proposed for use and warranty information, from the pest control operator at the time of bid.  A consumer trying to determine which company to employ should review the disclosure information.  Termiticides alone will not guarantee elimination of a termite infestation.  Inspection methods, procedures and application techniques all contribute to a successful treatment.  If you have a health-related question concerning the termite measures to be used on your home, or that has already been applied to your home, you may obtain a copy of the chemical's package label from your pest control operator and take it to your family doctor for analysis.  ALL PEST CONTROL OPERATORS ARE REQUIRED TO GIVE A COPY OF THE LABEL OF THE TERMITICIDE TO BE USED TO THE CONSUMER BEFORE THE TERMITE TREATMENT IS CONDUCTED.  Any health related questions can also be directed to the Epidemiology Department of the Texas Department of Health, (512) 458-7269.  Questions on treatment methods and procedures should be directed to the Structural Pest Control Board (SPCB) at Fax Number (512) 451-9400. 

What treatment methods are commonly used to combat termites?

Subterranean termites are treated using the methods and procedures listed on the product label.  Drywood termites are commonly treated using fumigation, wood removal or borate products for spot applications.  When fumigation is performed, a certified applicator for the pest company must be present at the time the gas is released into the house and when the house is released for occupancy following the fumigation and proper aeration.  A technician licensed to do termite work with the advice of a certified applicator can perform a treatment for Subterranean termites without the Certified Applicator being present.    

Where and how do termites live?

All termites subsist on cellulose, which termites get from wood.  Termites are social insects with a highly organized caste system, much like ants or bees.  Subterranean termites usually live outside the house in underground nests.  Subterranean termites use moisture in the earth to survive.  Since subterranean termites also need cellulose, they often tunnel into nearby homes to get it.  Drywood termites, on the other hand, need no contact with the earth.  Drywood termites live right inside the homes that they devour. 

What is the difference between Subterranean and Drywood termites?

Subterranean termites usually return to the soil to live and reproduce, and are found throughout Texas.  Drywood termites, found more commonly in coastal areas such as Houston and Corpus Christi, do not have soil contact but can live inside walls or other wooden building materials. 

I had a pest control company treat my house for termites last year, but now I have termites again.  What should I do?

Retreatment for subterranean termites can only be performed if there is clear evidence of reinfestation or disruption of the barrier due to construction, excavation or landscaping and/or evidence of the breakdown of the termiticide barrier in the soil.  These vulnerable or reinfested areas may be retreated in accordance with application techniques described in each individual product’s labeling.  The timing and type of these retreatments will vary, depending on facts such as termite pressure, soil types, soil conditions, and other factors, which may reduce the effectiveness of the barrier.  Annual retreatment of the structure is prohibited unless there is clear evidence that reinfestation or barrier disruption has occurred. 

Keep in mind that termite control is as much an art as it is a science.  Many factors can affect the adequacy of a treatment, including the construction of the house, and re-treatments may be necessary.  Termites can still be in the walls of the house six to eight weeks even after a proper termite treatment.  If you have a re-infestation and are under contract with a company, contact the company so licensed individuals may identify and address the problem.   

Is the pest control company required to give me termite treatment disclosure documents before performing a termite treatment on my house?

At the time a bid is submitted and prior to treating, the pest control company proposing the treatment is required to give the prospective customer termite treatment disclosure documents.  The documents must include, but are not limited to, the following items:  (1) A diagram of the structure or structures to be treated; (2) A label for any pesticide recommended or to be used, and the proposed concentration of the termiticide to be used; (3) The complete details of the warranty provided; (4) Definitions of the types of treatment; and (5) The signature of approval of the certified applicator or technician licensed in the termite category employed by the company making the proposal. 

If the warranty does not include the entire structure treated, the areas included must be listed.  The warranty information must also include the time period of the warranty, the renewal options and cost, the obligations of the pest control operator to retreat for termite infestations or repair termite damage caused by termite infestation during the warranty period, and conditions that could develop as a result of the owner's action or inaction that could void the warranty. 

Can I receive compensation for an improper termite treatment or Wood Destroying Insect Report?

The Structural Pest Control Board does not have the authority to compel a pest control company to pay damages.  The Structural Pest Control Board cannot settle disputes arising from a contractual disagreement.  The Board can communicate offers of settlement between parties.  

Additional questions?

If you have any further questions concerning termite control or pest control in general, contact your local pest control operator or contact the Structural Pest Control Board at 1106 Clayton Lane, Suite 100 LW, Austin, Texas 78723, (512) 451-7200.  If the company's response is unsatisfactory, then contact the Structural Pest Control Board.