Dealing with Termites

August 11, 2011 Updated: August 12, 2011

A recent report says that termites cause an estimated $120 million in property damage in the Toronto area, but luckily there are ways to deal with these tiny critters.

Termite infestations can drop the value of a home by 25 percent, according to the Canadian Concrete Masonry Producers Association (CCPMA), which says use of masonry in homes can help in eliminating the problem.

Art Bossio from Advantage Pest Control Inc. says the company receives an average of two calls a day on termites in the city’s midtown region.

Bossio says that when his company is asked for help, it first looks for evidence of termites in the house.

“Mud tunnels along the house, any damage to the wood and tunnels are a big clue if [the house owners] have termites. If they see any holes inside wood and wonder what caused that, that usually means it’s termite damage.”

“If you have a water leak in your basement or anywhere around the house, the water will attract termites to your house as opposed to your neighbour’s house,” he said.

Bossio says that to exterminate termites his company drills holes around the exterior base of the house every 18 inches, and puts chemicals underground. The same is done inside the house starting from the basement.

According to the Canadian Wood Council (CWC), 20 percent of Canada’s population live in areas inhabited by termites. CWC categorizes control measures into six types: suppression, site management, soil barrier, slab/foundation details, structural durability, and surveillance and remediation.

Removing termite-infested trees will not benefit or lessen the termite population because they nest inside the soil, according to Toronto Public Health. In fact, it can benefit the termites because “removing a living tree will also kill the remaining roots and the dead wood tissue in the soil creates more favourable conditions for termites.”

Even though termites are native to Canada only in British Columbia, they can now be found all over the country. It is believed a population of termites reached Canada from the U.S through shipping cargo in 1938.

These uninvited house guests have roamed the earth for more than 240 million years. They can enter an opening or crack of one’s house as thin as a piece of paper and can hide almost anywhere.

Pest Control Canada has the following advice for homeowners:

. Have your home inspected for termites annually.
. Avoid wood-to-ground contact such as wood siding.
. Treat wood decking built on soil surfaces.
. Treat wood fences in contact with a building structure (or have at least six inches of clearance).
. Cut back any tree branches and other foliage in contact with a building structure.
. Improve poor surface drainage and eliminate excessive moisture under or adjacent to a structure.
. Remove or treat wood form boards left in place around the foundation.