Termites in Walls

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There are no craftier and dangerous insects for a household than termites.

The insect leads an extremely secret way of life most of the time underground, that is why sometimes it is very difficult to identify the presence of termites’ colony nest above the ground level in a house and the problem of infestation sometimes becomes irretrievable.

Slightly but surely, termites destroy all wooden structures of a house including basement, walls and ceilings, making a house impossible for a human to live in.

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If termites like to devour different wooden structures, what about walls in your house? Can one be absolutely sure that there are no these nasty insects somewhere except wooden structures? Are termites beginning to eat everything they are able to find?

Are their eating habits have changed so much that they “eat” walls? Today we will try to answer these questions and give you some necessary information how to avoid and get rid of these insects inside your house.

Can Subterranean Termites Infest a Wall? Do They Eat Brick Walls and Drywalls?

Photo 2Subterranean termites live inside the soil near and under a house and reach above-ground level food sources through special mud tubes that workers build of saliva, and their own feces.

Walls can draw these dangerous vermin in case the walls are in direct contact with the soil. Wall damage also tends to go undiscovered for a long time, as it may begin so far below the level that a homeowner can observe.

The total surface area of walls that is connected with the soil is much larger than other parts of a house. This vast surface area attracts termites as a food source, as many insects can feed on the same piece of wood without having to travel and forage too far beyond their colony’s nest.

Termites lead to more serious damage to walls than most other parts of infested houses and other buildings: because walls are actually thinner, an infestation spreads more rapidly and severely puts at risk the strength of walls. Cheaper materials, such as laminated plywood or particle board, are often quickly infested.

The answer is “yes” – subterranean termites do live in walls, eating and destroying them. Also, a wall plays a role of a “path” that connects a termites’ nest with the place they feed and get moisture.

Learn more about subterranean termites: signs of their activity; best methods of treatment and DIY methods. Eastern subterranean termites and their tunnels and tubes with photo.

But what types of walls can be exposed to infestation? Can termites “use” brick walls for their needs? Or will they “consume” a drywall more eagerly? Let’s have a look at this very issue more precisely.

There is some kind of legend that termites (formosan, subterranean or drywood) eat through the bricks. Just a piece of good “news” for you – termites’ mandibles just aren’t powerful enough to do it.

Another problem if brick walls have cracks and gapes in a concrete: termites can use this channels to move through a wall and infest the rest of the house. The most exposed places where the plumbing comes up through the floor, because in this area termites can find a necessary amount of moisture for their “evil deeds”.

What about drywalls made of plaster? Unfortunately, here the “news” are not so optimistic.

Drywall, or sheetrock, is used for finishing walls and ceilings inside a house. It is made of panels of plaster that are enclosed on both sides with thick sheets of paperboard.

As all drywalls are partly made of cellulose, termites can readily feed on the paper in drywall and cause serious damage to your house. Remember, that termites do not eat gypsum itself.

Photo 3Drywood and subterranean worker termites eat cellulose materials (including drywalls) to feed their colonies.

These working termites can life and cause damage all year-round in a properly heated building, eating through the walls of your home and leaving visible traces that need urgent action if discovered.

In fact, subterranean termites do more than mere damage to a drywall. They also eat into the wood baseboard at the bottom of the wall.

As they need moisture badly, they often eat sheetrock panels around plumbing pipes. A serious structural damage occurs when they eat away load-bearing walls that support the upper floor or roof of the house (in the most serious and neglected cases).

Actually, the answer is “yes”: termites can live inside a drywall and they do eat panels of plaster that are enclosed on both sides of gypsum since they are made of cellulose.

Here you can learn more information about effective termite control remedies: Bora-Care, Boric acid, Borate, Fipronil, Chlorpyrifos, Chlordane, Borax, Timbor, Termidor, Terminator, Phantom, Lorsban, Biflex, Terro. You can choose different forms, such as – foam, liquid, powder.

How to Identify Termites Inside a Wall?

There are some revealing traces of subterranean termites’ infestation of a wall that will help you to identify the pest in time and take some necessary treatment measures against them:

  • Since subterranean termites often devour walls from the inside out, there may be some visible traces of injury: from the inside of a drywall you can notice some small “trails” that indicate the paths of tunnels for working termites.
  • Sometimes different termites leave small holes in the drywall paper. Subterranean termites use soil to fill these little holes, drywood termites do not. If you mark pin-sized holes in sheetrock or wallpaper, call a special termite inspection before making any type of repairs.
  • Sometimes it is possible to find mud tubes under the wallpaper. Termites make these tubes of mud, salvia and their feces. They travel via these mud tunnels to discover new places in their search for food and moisture. It is one of the surest signs.
  • There are some ways to inspect a drywall for termites that can be fulfilled only by professionals. For example, termite experts can look for drywood termite droppings (or frass) – a sign of a nearby infestation – and check the wall’s soundness.
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  • Specialists also may use infrared scanners to check temperature variations within the ceiling or walls of your house. Certain variations in temperature can possibly indicate areas with high moisture level or potential termite infestation.
  • In fact, termites do not produce any hearable sounds during their “working activities”. For a human, this rustling is impossible to hear at all without special devices.

    But a specialist can notice some unusual sounds inside a wall with a help of stethoscope (for example, around pipes). But this method is not popular: there are a lot of different insects (ants, bugs) or rodents that can produce the same noise.

  • In a sheetrock termites are also can make paths or routes. Once a termite technician has identified the termites’ infestation in a wall, he or she may be able to show you small “trails” that indicate the paths of tunnels in the sheetrock paper.
Recommendation: you can search for termites in walls by yourself. For this purpose, you can use a screwdriver and a good flashlight. Without taking off the wallpaper, you can slightly knock the wall with a screwdriver for hearing some hollow sound. First of all, inspect the most exposed areas: near window frames, door slabs, around pipes, where walls are connected with the floor.

If you can take off the wall papers (during renovation or if there some visible signs of infestation on the surface) inspect a wall with a flashlight for above mentioned signs.

Since there are signs of infestation are discovered it is better to entrust this examination to specialists. Only a specialist can conduct a comprehensive inspection of your house for termites’ activity and look for some hidden traces. Also, a specialist can give you a consultation if there is some activity concerning different termites’ treatment measures.

Be careful! We recommend you to use protective gloves during your inspection. Sometimes, a contact with termites’ feces or mud tunnels can cause allergic reactions or contact dermatitis.

Here you can learn more information about termite bait systems: Advance, Green, CSIRO, Nemesis, Exterra, Firstline, Terminate. Also find out how to make baits by yourself and how to refill them?

Is It Possible to Get Rid of Termites in Walls? What Are the Possible Treatment Measures?

Photo 5Yes, it is possible, but it will take time and you should be patient and consecutive in your actions (actually, a homeowner has no other choice).

Luckily, today there is a great variety of termicides and other chemicals to fight termites even inside the walls. We just want to offer you the most effective plan of termites’ elimination.

Advice: we recommend you not to rely on DIY treatment substances, but to give your preference to modern termicides that are really able to solve a problem of infestation!

Since termites are discovered, it is very important to take a combination of measures against these nasty pests: it is recommended immediate spraying of Termidor or Premise (in form of spray, foam, liquid) into the wall voids and exterior soil near the problem wall.

Termidor/Premise plus baiting station inside a house is the best solution ever. It will deal with termites that are already inside the wall and with those under the soil level. This method is considered to be the most effective one.

After using this liquid termicides it is recommended to use the so called “baiting station”. It uses the termites’ natural behaviors to cause the nest and colony to die of starvation (i.e. without cellulose and moisture).

However, it takes time for termites to eat out the stake. It also will take a long period of time for colony to die. Besides, they can produce a new worker caste.

Warning! Since it is better to entrust this work to a specialist, some of the homeowners still have no opportunity to use this service. If you are going to make the treatment yourself, please, do not forget about protective measures.
  • Use protective gloves, glasses and respirator.
  • Immediately after treatment wash your closes in washing machine, take a shower with soap.
  • It is prohibited to smoke, eat or drink during treatment.

Useful articles

If you interested in more information of termites we recommend you to read the following articles:

Conclusion

Photo 6To get rid of termites in walls is not a matter of one day – it will take time.

Approximately, to get rid of termites using the most effective treatment measure (liquid termicide plus baiting system) will take from 3 months to 1 year (one treatment will not solve this problem entirely, you will need 2-3 treatments).

Termites represent a very serious problem that badly needs the work of a specialist. We recommend you not to rely on DIY treatment measures and always try to consult with a specialist.

Once neglected, termites’ colony can rapidly grow and invade the whole house destroying all necessary house structures as ceilings, walls and floors. Do not forget about annual inspection that is also better to entrust to a specialist.

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1 comment
  1. Anna

    If I face a problem of termites’ infestation myself, I would never apply some of these “traditional” or “organic” treatment substances as boric acid, essence oils or salt. These methods just evoking me a smile: how can orange oil kill a pest if even some of modern termicides are not able to do it at once? To my mind, people, who get use of such a nonsense just wasting their time and will surely get more “termite” problems in the future. I think, that only a specialist can solve this issue effectively.

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