How much does it cost to hire a termite exterminator?
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Termite Treatment Cost Guide
Updated: December 19, 2022
The simplest definition of a termite describes it as an insect that lives in large social groups and eats wood. In some parts of the world their presence is important to recycle wood and plant matter. However, when it comes to our homes, we do not want these wood-eating bugs to enter because they can eat and destroy all of the wood in the home. Termites may even eat wood furnishings. There are many ways to treat termites, and each has its own costs, depending on the size of the infestation, where they are located, and the method used. Perimeter treatments are the most common, but heat, fumigation, baiting, and barriers may also be used. This can lead to a wide range of costs.
It is important to note that the supply chain issues impacting many industries around the globe continue to impact costs. Homeowners can expect an increase in average costs throughout 2023 of 1.7% to 2.6%, depending on inflation and the health of the supply chain. The average cost to treat a home for termites is $450 to $2,000. Most people pay around $680 for a liquid perimeter treatment on 170 linear feet or around a 1,750 sq.ft. home. The low cost for this project would be $300 for chemical micro-treatments to treat a new infestation along one 50-foot wall of the home. The high cost would be $7,050 for heat treatment of a 2,500 sq.ft. home with barrier protection added to the outside walls.
Cost to Hire a Termite Exterminator
|Termite Treatment Cost|
|National average cost||$680|
Termite Control Cost by Treatment
Termite control is also priced according to the type of treatment. There are two main groups in which different types of termite treatments could be organized, tent and no tent treatments. Some treatments take place on the exterior of the home and are priced by the linear foot. These are usually done to take care of subterranean termites. Those that infest the interior of the home are known as drywood. They need different methods to exterminate them. These methods are generally priced by the sq.ft.
In rare instances, you may have a small area that is infested. If this is the case, you can have a micro-treatment done. This is more costly per foot but is generally effective at dealing with small issues. The type of treatment you receive impacts your total costs. Not every type will be right for every circumstance. Your exterminator may recommend one over another for any given job. The costs shown below are for each treatment based on either linear or square footage, depending on how that treatment is administered and priced.
|Treatment Type||Average Cost per Treatment|
|Fumigation / Tenting||$1 - $4/sq.ft.|
|Heat||$1 - $4/sq.ft.|
|Micro Treatment||$6 - $8/sq.ft.|
|Liquid Treatment||$4 - $14.50/linear foot|
|Baiting||$8 - $12/linear foot|
|Barrier Control||$10 - $16/linear foot|
Tenting is also called fumigation. Fumigation costs $1 to $4 per sq.ft. This method is used for drywood, which are interior termites, and treats the entire home at once. Your home is essentially placed inside a large, plastic tent. Chemicals are then released inside the tent, which kills the termites inside. This method requires that you vacate your home for several days. Once treatment is complete and the tent is removed, the home cannot be entered for about four days while the chemicals disperse.
Termite Heat Treatment
Heat treatments cost between $1 and $4 per sq.ft. This method also targets the drywood type and treats your whole home at one time. During this process, the home is placed in a tent similar to fumigation methods, but no chemicals are used. The entire house is heated so that the core of all wood products reaches 120 degrees; it is then held at that temperature for 33 minutes. The treatment is effective and less toxic to the environment. People and pets will typically only have to vacate the home for a few hours rather than days. Drawbacks may come in heat damage to heat sensitive products you may have in your home.
Termite micro treatments cost $6 to $8 per sq.ft. Micro treatment is actually a group of different methods. These treatments control and eradicate drywood termites at the start of an infestation and before they spread or grow a colony. Once the colony becomes established, more extensive treatments are required. If you have a small building or a section of a home that is impacted, but they have not yet spread, you can use micro treatments in that one area. Treatments may include heat, microwave guns, or spot treatments with liquid termiticide. The exact method can vary based on the exact location in the area and the type of termites.
Termite Liquid Treatment
The cost of liquid termite treatments is $4 to $14.50 per linear foot. These are methods used to deal with the subterranean variety and are applied to the perimeter of your home. There are a few different liquid treatments. Some are termiticides, meaning that they kill those who come in contact with it. Some types are repellants, meaning that the termites will not cross the barrier. This is the most common and effective method, as they must move between your home and the soil to be healthy. If they cannot cross the barrier, they will eventually die off even if they never eat poison.
Termite Baiting System
Termite baiting or termite soil treatment costs are $8 to $12 per linear foot, depending on the number and type of bait. The bait is paper, cardboard, and other wood related “food” that has been treated with a slow acting lethal substance. It is put in a tubular container and buried underground away from the structure. They migrate to the bait, eat it and bring it back to the nest and gradually the colony dies off. Depending on the situation, some pest control companies will use a combination of both liquid and bait applications. Sentricon is the most common method of non-liquid baiting. It does not require drilling or trenching, and the bait areas are very discreet. This is more commonly used for subterranean termites.
Termite Barrier Treatment
The cost of barrier treatments for termite control is $10 to $16 a linear foot. Barrier treatments are a method of keeping termites out of your home and may be used on new construction or after other methods have been used to remove or kill them. Barriers are used on the perimeter of the home and may be made of many substances. Some are made of sand, while others may use treated wood in the construction of the home or area. Barriers can also be useful for homes with minor subterranean termite infestations. The termites inside cannot cross the barrier to leave and will die off without soil. These methods are often used in areas that see a lot of activity because once the barrier is up, future treatments are generally not needed.
Termite Treatment Cost per Linear Foot
Several ways may be used to treat a home for termites. If they are contained in the exterior walls, then a perimeter application makes the most sense and is the cheapest method of treating a home. This method is calculated in linear feet and measures your home’s footprint to get costs. Several different methods may be used on the perimeter, including liquid repellants, baits that contain poison, as well as liquid and physical barriers that they cannot cross. These methods have a combined cost range of $4 to $16 a linear foot. Below are some of the common linear footages that you may treat, along with their average treatment costs.
|Perimeter Size||Average Cost to Treat|
|100 Linear Feet||$400 - $1,600|
|150 Linear Feet||$600 - $2,400|
|200 Linear Feet||$800 - $3,200|
|250 Linear Feet||$1,000 - $4,000|
|300 Linear Feet||$1,200 - $4,800|
|400 Linear Feet||$1,600 - $6,400|
Termite Treatment Cost per Square Foot
If the infestation in your home is severe, and you have drywood termites on your interior, you may need to have a whole house treatment of either heat or fumigation rather than a perimeter treatment. Whole house tenting is not effective against subterranean termites and dampwood termites. The primary target of whole house treatments is drywood termites. If this is the case, your treatment will be priced by the square foot, with $1 to $4 a sq.ft. being a common cost. Below are the average costs for whole house treatment, based on the size of a home.
|1,000 sq.ft.||$1,000 - $4,000|
|1,500 sq.ft.||$1,500 - $6,000|
|1,800 sq.ft.||$1,800 - $7,200|
|2,000 sq.ft.||$2,000 - $8,000|
|3,000 sq.ft.||$3,000 - $12,000|
Termite Control Cost by Frequency
Termite control comes in various options depending on the company you choose and what type of coverage you are looking to purchase. Keep in mind that once your treatment is complete, liquid treatments are supposed to last five years before they need to be reapplied. Many treatments may only need to be applied or conducted once. Major infestations may require monthly visits or annual rechecks to make sure the insects have not returned.
Treatment companies usually offer a combination of monthly, quarterly, and annual plans. The company may recommend the best plan based on the type of treatment. For example, a quarterly treatment plan may help with continued bait treatments. However, a contract is not always necessary when the homeowner seeks or needs just a single treatment and a one-time visit. In most cases, a one-time visit costs $300 to $480. Contracts cost from $200 to $900 per year, based on the frequency of visits.
The contract usually begins after an initial inspection of the property. The frequency of the contract depends on the type of treatment the termite company recommends. Some homeowners may choose the single visit and simply pay for one treatment. Other homeowners may decide to set up a contract and receive further visits at regular intervals. In most cases, the homeowner pays for the initial visit. However, some termite companies may offer the first visit for free or include the cost of the first visit in the overall price of the contract when the homeowner chooses to sign up.
|Frequency of Visits||Cost per Year|
|Yearly||$200 - $400|
|Quarterly||$240 - $560|
|Monthly||$660 - $900|
Annual Termite Treatment
An annual contract costs $200 to $400, depending on the type of plan. Most pest control companies will want to get you onto an annual treatment plan. After the initial treatment, the pest professional can check your home again and make further suggestions or take action to treat again. Spot checks and treatments will be considered in an annual plan. This type of plan is mostly recommended in areas that see a lot of termite activity. Otherwise, you may want the peace of mind that comes with having regular checks. This plan starts after the initial treatment. So, you may have higher upfront costs before this plan kicks in. Low costs for this type of treatment plan are for yearly, thorough inspections of the entire property, while higher costs may be full, regular treatments such as updating baits and barriers, as well as full inspections. Each company may offer different things at an annual visit, which can impact the cost.
Quarterly Termite Treatment
Some companies allow a quarterly treatment and payment plan at a rate of $240 to $560 yearly. The plan includes quarterly checks of bait systems, or in the case of liquid treatments, a thorough inspection to locate any infestation that should be treated. Quarterly treatments are recommended when a home is termite-free to ensure that there are no further issues. Quarterly plans are usually for homes that need more intensive inspections more regularly than the annual visit. Depending on what type of system you use, they may involve both interior and exterior inspections and replacement of bait or spot treatment as needed.
Monthly Termite Treatment
The cost runs from $660 to $900 a year for monthly treatment. Bait systems are typically the type of treatment that is paid monthly. The bait is buried in the ground, and the expert returns monthly to check. The initial cost for the bait system at a rate of $40 to $50 for each unit or by the linear foot at $8 to $12 may be charged. Monthly treatment may be recommended once termites are eradicated to maintain a pest-free home if bait methods were used. Many monthly visits may only take a few minutes to inspect and replace bait. So, your monthly costs will typically be fairly low, but you get the peace of mind of having ongoing monitoring of your property. This method can help catch new infestations before they get out of hand, so they are more costly than a one time yearly inspection.
Termite Pest Control Cost by Level of Infestation
The average cost of termite treatments varies based on the level of infestation. Pricing begins on the lower end at $300 and increases to a high of $6,500. A small termite infestation is cleared quickly with a brief visit. However, a severe infestation may require multiple visits and services that take several days. When caught early, an exterminator can deal with a small termite infestation with treatments like a micro-spray application or heat treatment.
On the other hand, a severe termite infestation may require treatment using multiple methods. Severe infestations often require treating the entire home through tenting or numerous applications of termite-fighting traps and sprays. Homeowners should always call a pest control company immediately, no matter how many signs of termites exist. Termites may already have a strong foothold in the home by the time you see evidence of their activities.
If you see a few wings on the ground or some evidence of dead termite bodies, you probably have, at a minimum, a small termite infestation. However, never assume the infestation is small because you only see a few wings. You could have a medium infestation if you see multiple places in your home with termite wings or ground-up wood shavings on the floor. These indicators alert you that termites have been feasting on the wood in your house. If you begin to see problems like cracked or bent walls or significant damage to the wood in your home, you could have a severe infestation. With an initial inspection, your termite exterminator will measure the size of the infestation and create a treatment plan according to the severity of the infestation.
|Size of Infestation||Cost per Treatment|
|Small||$300 - $1,200|
|Medium||$450 - $1,500|
|Large||$1,200 - $4,500|
|Severe||$1,200 - $6,500|
Termite Treatment Prices by Type of Termite
Although there are over 2,000 varieties of termites throughout the world, only four types are frequently found in the U.S. These include dampwood, subterranean, drywood, and Formosan, which are very damaging subterranean termites. Some homeowners in states where drywood termites are common may encounter the conehead termite, a relative of the drywood termite. However, they are not especially common. In rare cases, homeowners along the coastal states of the Southeast may also encounter powderpost termites, a type of drywood termite that infests furniture. Most of them need moisture and make a path to wherever the food is, which frequently is the wood structure of your house and your wood furniture. Those that live underground will actually build mud tunnels up your foundation and into the wood structure. Others can live with little moisture and can be found in your attic or other dry wood places in your home. Knowing the different types may help you identify the type you have if you suspect an infestation. The average treatment cost based on the type of termite is $100 to $6,500, depending on the size of the infestation.
|Type||Cost per Treatment|
|Dampwood||$100 - $500|
|Subterranean||$250 - $1,500|
|Formosan||$250 - $1,500|
|Drywood||$1,000 - $6,500|
Dampwood Termites Treatment
For Dampwood termite treatment, expect to pay $100 to $500. Homeowners may encounter dampwood termites when they live in or near certain mountain ranges in the western United States, like the Sierra Nevada and the mountains in the Pacific Northwest. Dampwood termites are even occasionally seen as far south as Southern California. Larger creatures than other types, Dampwood specimens are true to their name and like damp wood. This means they only infest moist areas so are not as often seen in the walls or attic of homes. However, it isn’t an impossibility, so keeping outdoor spaces free of standing water and moisture is vital to keep these pests away from your home. The Dampwood type has a translucent orange-brown body with a darker head with horn-shaped mandibles on the front.
Subterranean Termites Treatment
The average cost for subterranean termite treatment starts at around $250 to $1,500 on average for this type of treatment. Costs vary depending on how large the colony is and how large the property or area is that’s being treated. Subterranean specimens are usually treated using baits, with Sentricon being the most common. These can be found in every state except Alaska. They are one of the most destructive in the nation and are the creators of mud tunnels for protection. Formosan termites are a type of subterranean termite. This is the most aggressive, fastest-producing variety. Underground and aboveground colonies are huge and cause damage quickly, consuming up to 13 ounces of wood in a day. The Formosan termite is mainly found in the warm Southern states but has also been sighted in Hawaii, California, Arizona, and Texas. These pests are identified by a teardrop-shaped, orange-brown head.
Formosan Termites Treatment
Formosan termites are a virulent type of subterranean termite. Eradicating them costs between $250 and $1,500 per treatment. They are found throughout the southwest, south, and southeast United States, but research indicates they are currently spreading to other locations in the country and may exist in all states in the future. All termites are destructive, but Formosan termites are particularly harmful. Homeowners in states impacted by Formosan termites must remain on guard against infestations. The presence of just a few Formosan termites in a house virtually always means an active infestation is present within the home’s foundation or wood areas. Immediate eradication measures are necessary for the preservation of the home.
Drywood Termites Treatment
Drywood termite control runs about $1,000 to $6,500. Even though they enjoy moist areas, the drywood type does not require as much moisture as other types and is not found in the soil. The pests are drawn to rotten, dead wood in wall supports and attic areas. They are distinct in that they have large cream-colored narrow wings that extend beyond the length of the body with an orange-brown body and head. These are seen mainly in Southern areas from North Carolina to the Gulf Coast and parts of California. One of the most common drywood termites is the Conehead termite. This variety is mainly seen in the southern part of Florida. It is an aggressive specimen that starts by living hidden and later builds nests in shrubs, trees, or buildings. They enjoy eating roots, trees, shrubs, lumber, paper, fence posts, and rails. Identifying the Conehead is easy as it has a unique round or oval-shaped brown ball for a head. They build wider tunnels than other termites. In some states along the southern Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, homeowners may encounter another relative of drywood termites, known as powderpost termites. These termites are almost exclusively found in furniture and are not known to infest entire homes.
Termite Extermination Cost by Location
Termites are sneaky creatures and are often called the silent killer. This is because they chew and eat the wood in your home and are not readily seen in many cases. There are some telltale signs of their presence and ways you can fend them off in various parts of your home. The cost to treat by location differs according to the difficulty of access, type of application required, and the extent of the infestation. Although it may seem natural to only treat the space with an infestation, it is always wise to treat the whole house to be sure there are no other colonies present.
Areas like the lawn, pantry, and shed are often less expensive to treat than less-accessible areas like the attic and kitchen. Overall, the range to treat any single area starts at $100 and goes up to $1,500. Exterior treatments are easily applied without the need for a ladder or crawling into tight spaces. In this case, the cost may only run a few hundred dollars. On the other hand, difficult areas like attics and kitchens may cost from $300 to $1,200, depending on the size and accessibility.
The cost also depends on the number of instances of that area in your home. For example, many homes have floorboards in every room, so the cost can reach $700 in some cases where several rooms are treated. Similarly, the cost for carpet termite treatments starts at $150 but may increase to $1,500 for homes with a lot of carpet. After inspecting your home for evidence of termites, your exterminator will create a list of treatments, the total cost, and where they expect to use those treatments. Termites may gather and feast anywhere there is wood in your home. Colonies may start in your lawn and migrate closer to the home.
|Location||Costs per Treatment|
|Lawn||$100 - $150|
|Shed||$100 - $150|
|Pantry||$150 - $200|
|Garage||$150 - $500|
|Window Frame||$150 - $500|
|Carpet||$150 - $1,500|
|Bedroom||$200 - $400|
|Ceiling||$300 - $500|
|Kitchen||$300 - $800|
|Attic||$300 - $1,200|
|Floorboards||$500 - $700|
Termite Control Prices by Company
The average cost of termite control, depending on the company, is $500 to $1,500. There are a wide variety of companies that offer this type of treatment and control. Each one has special nuances, so it is a good idea to research before deciding. Questions to ask include cost, warranty, customer service, repeat visits, and more. Look at the table below for the average costs for termite treatment from different companies.
|Company||Cost for Yearly Contract|
|Ehrlich||$500 - $1,000|
|Orkin||$540 - $660|
|Terminix||$600 - $900|
|Western Exterminator||$600 - $1,220|
Ehrlich Termite Control
Ehrlich termite control programs cost $500 to $1,000 annually. Their program includes a free inspection. The company has been around for over 90 years and offers 45 locations throughout the nation. Ehrlich offers four different types of treatment: baiting stations, liquid, fumigation, and spot treatments. Offering one of the best warranties in the industry, Ehrlich’s Termite Home Protection Plan provides for damage repair and replacement if they return after they treat your home.
Orkin Termite Treatment
Orkin termite control costs from $540 to $660 per year. The company has over 70 years of experience with termite control and over 100 years of other types of pest control. Orkin offers the following treatment methods: Termidor liquid treatments, Sentricon bait and monitoring, dry foam, and Orkinfoam. They use a six-point system including investigation, protection, sealing, monitoring, reporting to the homeowner, and follow-up. Orkin offers free retreatment if they return. They also promise to refund your money if you aren’t satisfied and contact them within 30 days of treatment.
Terminix Termite Control
Terminix termite control costs $600 to $900 annually. Terminix has over 90 years of experience and offers over 47 locations throughout the United States. Their treatment plan consists of a three-step method. First, an inspection is done to locate any termites. Next, the appropriate application is determined. Finally, an annual follow-up is done to ensure the home remains clear of these bugs for the rest of the year. If any termites are present, the treatment is free and is included in your warranty. The company’s initial inspection visit is also free.
Western Termite Control
Western Exterminator is a subsidiary of Rentokil and charges around $600 to $1,220 yearly. The company only offers service in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona. The process is started with a thorough free inspection, and then a customized plan is created for your home for prevention and infestation. Western provides several different methods, including fumigation, baiting and monitoring, and chemical barriers. The company also offers a home timber replacement warranty if they are found after treatment and cause damage to your home.
Termite Extermination Cost
It is important to find a reputable pest control company that you can trust. Some professionals offer a free inspection, while others charge for it. Typically, termite inspection and treatment costs start at $150 for the inspection and go up to $2,000 with treatment, depending on the size of the house and lawn. Costs are based on the total number of square feet or linear feet that require treatment rather than the number of hours the job might take. Very large homes or severe infestations may cost more or require multiple treatments. A reputable company with licensing and references will be your best choice. Homeowners who successfully eradicate their termites may want to sign up for an annual maintenance plan ranging between $175 and $400.
Emergency Termite Control
An emergency extermination visit could cost you as much as $100 to $200 extra. If it is the weekend, at night, on a holiday, or the infestation is extreme, no one wants to have to worry about termites and what damage they are doing while you sleep. Additionally, the longer you wait, the more damage they can do. Many companies are willing to make emergency visits but will charge extra. The professional will do a thorough inspection and present the best plan of action. Depending on the circumstances, treatment may be done immediately, or if possible, it may be scheduled later.
Termite Inspection Cost
If you are unsure if you have termites or what type you may have, have an inspection or testing done. The average cost of this type of inspection for a one-time visit is $150 to $350. If you choose to have the treatment done after this, some companies roll the fee into the final costs. If you have regular termite service, an annual inspection cost is generally paid through a plan with the company and most likely won’t incur an extra charge. The inspectors usually look for wood damage, mud in construction joints, mud tubes, or even evidence of swarmers, they also check for any kind of structural damage to determine how much damage is present.
Termite Pretreatment Cost
The cost of termite pretreatment for new construction varies according to what is being done. If the soil is treated before building, it runs as low as $200. If installing a bait system or treating before drywall is installed, it could cost as much as $2,500. For the pretreatment of the foundation, the horizontal barrier of this base is treated with a termiticide before the slab is poured. Any exposed wood would be treated along with a trenched area around the outside of the foundation. Proactive builders want to prevent the risk of future lawsuits concerning termites that may be present before construction starts, which makes pre-construction termite treatment cost worth the price. Using a pretreatment program eliminates the concern and keeps customers satisfied. However, the process is not always voluntary. More than 2/3 of states around the country require that all new construction includes termite pretreatments.
Termite Protection Plan Cost
If you get termites once, you may get them again. Some companies, therefore, offer a protection plan that includes a yearly inspection and repeated treatments as necessary to help prevent them from making themselves comfortable in your home. Yearly protection cost programs have an average cost around $400 to $1,000, which can be a savings if you have a significant issue. This is different from a pretreatment plan as those are paid and carried out by the home’s original builder. A protection plan is purchased by the homeowner and must be renewed annually. Annual renewal can be as little as $100 to $175 but must be accompanied by a preventative treatment.
Termite Prevention Cost
In some cases, you may be able to prevent them from entering your home by applying a liquid termiticide to your home’s foundation. Termite prevention treatment costs $4 to $16 per linear foot or about $800 to $4,000 for most homes. In other cases, you can have it added to new construction and updated yearly at a much lower cost of approximately $200. This can help keep a colony from taking hold and prevent a lot of damage and repair costs.
Termite prevention by the homeowner is valuable as well. Store firewood away from your home and never directly on the soil. Repair all leaks immediately and do not allow standing water underneath sinks the refrigerator, garage, or other areas. Install gutters and downspouts and grade your property to avoid standing water near the foundation. Keep crawl space free of humidity. Do not plant large trees or shrubs too close to your home and keep branches cut back.
The average cost of a termite bond runs from $500 to $2,000. This is generally used to ensure a new home buyer that the property has been treated and inspected for termites. This is more expensive than a contract as it is a more in-depth treatment and guarantees that they will not return for one year. If termites do show up, the bond protects the homeowner as retreatment is free, and in some cases, the damage is covered.
Termite Damage Repair Cost
Treating the termites is just the first step. Killing or eliminating them does not repair the damage that has been done. You may, therefore, have additional costs after treatment to repair the damage to the house. The average cost for most homeowners for repairs after taking care of the infestation is around $200. However, the cost can be as high as $10,000 or more in extreme situations. The cost for termite damage to wood and other surfaces averages $4 to $7 per linear foot, with some areas such as crawl spaces costing as much as $100 per sq.ft. for repairs.
Drywall is the material commonly used for walls and ceilings in homes. The product is made with sheets of plaster and thick panels of paper. The cellulose in the sheetrock is attractive to them, too, so termite damage to drywall is a typical occurrence. The pests feed on the paper portion of the wall, so wall damage is very common.
As the insects love wood, damage to hardwood floors is also a frequent problem. Additionally, other areas with wood framing draw the pests to invade the home. Termite damage to a window frame or door frame isn’t unusual. Homeowners should call an expert immediately if they notice any wood shavings, droppings, wood blistering, or mud tubes in these areas.
|Type of Repair||Cost|
|Doors||$100 - $500|
|Windows||$150 - $600|
|Drywall||$200 - $550|
|Framing||$500 - $2,000|
|Insulation||$1,700 - $2,100|
|Foundation||$5,000 - $10,000|
All About Termites
It may surprise you to know that termites are from the same family as roaches, Blattodea. They are often confused with ants but are the silent destroyers of thousands of wood surfaces. These winged creatures are over 130 million years old and can be found in nearly every area of the United States. Their types include the workers, soldiers, and reproductive males and females. They vary in size from 5 mm to 26 mm, depending on the type. Most of them live only 10 to 24 months, except for the reproductive termites who live one to four years and the Queen who can live up to 25 years!
Termites love moisture, although drywood termites are not as dependent on it. The bugs will send members of the colony out to find new food sources. These explorers are known as swarmers. They are a common sight in the summer. Once a colony is established in its new home, it begins laying eggs for a new generation of termites. The eggs eventually hatch into larvae and then molt three times before reaching maturity. At adulthood, termites become workers, soldiers, or reproductive members of the colony.
Where Do Termites Nest?
Termites nest where they eat. Some soil-based species build nests in the soil, while those living inside homes build nests there. They choose their nesting location based on where the food is located. Some nest in trees or shrubs and build tunnels to reach more food inside the home. Termites in your home usually build in hidden areas such as hardwood floors, furniture, and between joists and studs.
What Do Termites Look Like?
Termites possess a translucent body that appears orange-brown or white. They grow to about 1/4 or 1/2 inches in length with soft bodies. Their heads feature antennae that may appear horned or straight. Swarmer termites appear dark and possess wings. Worker termites are lighter in color. When searching for termites, homeowners may see dampwood termites hiding in damp areas like basements and bathrooms. Drywood termites enjoy eating dry wood. They are often visible on the baseboards or windowsills when they swarm. Subterranean termites are smaller than their damp and dry relatives and often first appear at the foundation level of the home.
What Attracts Termites?
Termites are always looking for food. They are attracted to all kinds of wood, from wood beams, paper, fencing, wood siding, firewood, or even rotted lumber, among others. Foundation gaps should be sealed with caulk, as this is a great way for them to enter your home. Leaks under sinks, foundation, or shower floor, in walls or basements, and almost anywhere attract these wood-destroying organisms. Cracks in the foundation or siding can also allow for rainwater to seep in and invite these bugs to feast on your home. Using downspouts and gutters to direct rainwater away from the house and keeping shrubs and trees trimmed away from the home discourage them from entering the home.
Signs of Termites in House
Heeding the early signs of termites allows you to have them exterminated before damage occurs. Because of the benefits of early detection, homeowners should search for indications that these bugs are present in or around the house. The first thing you should look for are tunnels, eaten or hollowed wood, or the bugs themselves. The signs listed below indicate that you may have an infestation in your home.
- Mud-like tunnels. They build mud tubes to keep them moisturized while they search for food. You may see these tubes running up your foundation. This can be one of the signs of termites in the home.
- Termite wings. After they swarm, their wings fall off. This may be the only sign you have termites in the house.
- Termite droppings. They are called frass and are wood colored. This can be a sign of their presence in the wall.
- "Swarmers" or flying termites. They appear in the house at varying times, depending on the species. Subterranean termites typically swarm in the spring. Drywood species, however, are not as predictable.
- Warped wood around windows or doors. This happens when they eat the wood, leaving vacant areas that cause warping. This is a sure sign of termites in the home.
- Bubbling and discoloration. When there are termites in the home, you might notice that the ceiling is bubbling or has discoloration.
Are Termites Dangerous?
Termites do not bite, and they do not carry diseases. However, people with allergies or asthma may suffer from attacks in their presence. Irritants such as the dust or particles from their nests can get drawn into the HVAC system and cause an allergic or asthmatic reaction. Termites are unlikely to bite a pet. If they do, it isn’t terribly painful. Dogs or cats may eat them and not be affected in any way. Some pests are poisonous if eaten by a pet, but termites are not.
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Termite Treatment for Wood
As dry or wet wood is their main staple of food, it is important to know how much it costs to treat wood. Dry wood costs around $400 to $2,000 to make a hole in the wood and inject termiticide. For damp wood, it is debatable as to whether the wood will be salvageable as once it is wet. It is hard to restore even without the termites. However, a small area could be covered by a micro-injection at $500 to $1,000. It is often less expensive to treat the wood before an infestation rather than repair and replace it after an infestation.
Termite Monitoring Stations
A termite monitoring station is a small specialized container that penetrates the ground. To monitor, you place untreated wood in the container. Inspect the monitoring stations monthly to look for the presence of termites. If they are present, you will then trade out the untreated wood for wood treated with a slow-acting growth inhibitor such as noviflumuron. The monitoring stations cost about $40 each. In addition, you need to buy the bait which costs on average $135 for a box of 6. Termites can always reappear. Sometimes comprehensive treatments miss a few termites, so monitoring helps catch new termites early before they build a new colony.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Termite warranty. Most companies offer a warranty that is included with the treatment plan. This is usually a one-year warranty and must be renewed annually.
- Seasons and infestation. Spring is the best time to detect an infestation. This is the time when termites swarm. You may see signs of wings or you may see the swarm, which is a key indicator.
- Insurance. Insurance coverage does not cover termite damage. Most homeowners policies will include a clause stating it specifically does not cover this type of damage because they consider it preventable.
- Location. Termites love warmer climates and high humidity. Remember, they need moisture to thrive. However, there is nowhere that is completely immune. In the US, the greatest risk of termite damage is still in the Southeast, from North Carolina to central Texas and south to the Gulf Coast and Florida, and in California. The plains are the least affected by these bugs.
- Selling your home. It is important to treat termites before selling a home. Buyers should request a termite inspection before purchasing, particularly in states with heavy termite activity. The presence of termites will not doom a seller’s chances of selling their home. However, termites may negatively impact the sale price of the home or a buyer’s ability to secure mortgage financing to purchase it.
- Pet safe treatment. Some termite treatments require the application of chemicals or bait traps, which is a concern for pet owners. Termite treatment companies normally recommend keeping pets and people away from the home during airborne treatments. The best practice is to make sure all pets and people are out of the house during any airborne treatment like fumigation. Homeowners may also consider heat treatment as an alternative to chemical fumigation if they are nervous about the safety of their pets.
- Is termite protection worth it?
When you weigh out the costs of damage repair of often $3,000 or more, termite protection is worth every penny. Entire homes have been destroyed by these pests, and homeowners insurance does not cover it.
- How much should a termite contract cost?
A contract costs $200 to $900 annually. This includes inspection, treatment, and monitoring for further infestation.
- Are termites hard to get rid of?
Not necessarily. This depends on the colony size, the type, and where they are located, but most exterminators can eradicate the problem.
- How often should I treat for termites?
This depends on the type of treatment, but most maintenance plans treat yearly. Once they have infested your home, it is likely others may show up. Additionally, a termite plan is always a wise choice to protect your biggest investment.
- Is termite treatment covered by insurance?
No, not normally. It is thought that termites can be prevented with good maintenance.
- Can you treat your own house for termites?
DIY treatments exist for ridding your home of termites, but this is not generally recommended. The chemicals are not safe to use without knowledge and experience. In addition, you may not realize the extent of the problem or the proper method for dealing with the type of termites you have. Treating what you believe to be the problem, and not realizing that the colony may be larger than you first thought, may simply mean that you are delaying the inevitable and acquiring more damage at the same time. Homeowners should focus on termite prevention and regular inspections rather than treating the problem on their own. Early detection of termites is the best defense against severe infestations, expensive treatments, and costly repairs.
- Action Termite & Pest Control. “Are Termites Harmful to Humans?”
- DenGarden. “So You Think You Have Termites? How to Tell for Sure."
- Ehrlich. “Signs you may have termites.”
- FIXR Cost Guides and Cost Database.
- HowStuffWorks. “5 Things Exterminators Check During Termite Inspections."
- Orkin. “Conehead Termite.”
- Orkin. “How Much Does Termite Control Cost?”
- Pest Strategies. “How Much Do Termite Exterminators Cost?”
- Pest World. “Termites 101. A Guide to Common Termite Species.”
- Realtor.com. “Knock on Wood: 8 Surprising Things Attracting Termites to Your Home."
- Terminix. “How Much Does Termite Treatment Cost?”
- This Old House. “Terminix Review (2021).”
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.