Americans spend an estimated $5 billion per year dealing with termites. Because homeowners insurance rarely covers pest damage, most termite control and repair costs are spent out-of-pocket. Homeowners can avoid the time and often much higher costs of exterminating termites and repairing termite damage by taking measures to help prevent them from becoming a problem on the property in the first place. The purpose of this guide is to explain everything that a homeowner needs to know about preventative termite treatment and extermination, including: signs of termites, eradication and prevention, the cost to treat termites, and finally, the best termite control services. For homeowners already knowledgeable about termites and treatment options, who just want to see the top products and services, here is a short list of the top termite treatment companies:
Top Termite Control Companies
- Terminix (Best Overall)
- Orkin (Runner-Up)
- Rentokil (Best for Local Expertise)
- Terminix is our top-rated termite control company
- Its warranty covers damage repairs, which is something many competitors don’t offer
- Despite having the best warranty, Terminix pricing remains competitive
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Termites are one of the most common pests that someone might encounter in the course of owning and maintaining a property. Their most distinguishing characteristic is that they eat wood and plant matter, which can be destructive and problematic for humans and structures. In natural settings, like rainforests, termites can be beneficial to the environment because they clean up debris that litters the ground. However, in cities and neighborhoods, termites’ taste for wood means chewed-up fences, furniture, and homes. In the U.S. alone, termites damage more than 600,000 homes every year. Left unimpeded, a colony of termites can eat a structure to collapse.
Termites operate in a colony-based caste system with a king and queen, workers who are tasked with labor, soldiers who protect the colony, and alates, commonly referred to as swarmers, who are responsible for reproduction. Homeowners are most likely to encounter worker termites (usually white or cream-colored and found inside a mud foraging tube or the wood itself) or swarmers (usually darker in color and frequently have wings).
Types of Termites
Over 3,000 species of termites exist worldwide, and they are found on all continents except Antarctica. There are about 50 different species living in the United States alone. The three main types of termites found in the U.S. include subterranean, drywood, and dampwood termites. Below, we will explain some of the key differences between these three types, but first, we will explain the distinction between termites and another common pest: flying ants.
Termites With Wings vs. Flying Ants
A homeowner who encounters a swarm of flying insects may initially assume that they have a termite infestation on their hands, but this is not necessarily the case. Flying ants are also a fairly common insect pest that bear physical resemblance to termites—and while they are no doubt a nuisance, they are much less destructive than termites and require different approaches for treatment or extermination. Notably, flying ants do not feed on wood in the way that termites do, instead preferring a diet of nectar, seeds, and food debris, which means that they will not cause the same structural damage that termites will.
One of the easiest ways to tell flying ants and winged termites apart is to take a close look at their anatomy. You can use the table below for reference to identify what type of insect you are dealing with and choose your response appropriately.
|Straight antenna||Bent antenna|
|Equal length wings||Front wings longer than rear wings|
|Straight waist||Segmented waist|
|Short legs||Long legs|
Subterranean termites are the most common type of termite in the United States, and they account for the most damage. While there are several subclassifications isolated to particular regions, there is at least some type of subterranean termite found in every state except Alaska. As their name implies, subterranean termites live beneath the surface of the ground in the soil, where they create the largest nests of any insect in the country. Queens can produce up to 1,000 eggs per day, and a mature subterranean termite colony can have between 50,000 and 2,000,000 termites.
Subterranean termites use tunnels called mud tubes to connect to food sources such as trees or wooden structures or posts. Unlike some other types of termites, subterranean termites must have a source of water in order to survive, which is why they live in the soil. They create the most damage of all types of termites because they can feed on wood 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Subterranean termites are capable of tunneling into a building’s structural components from underground and have even caused the complete collapse of entire buildings.
As the name indicates, drywood termites live in habitats where dry wood can be found, most commonly in southern coastal areas from South Carolina to Texas and up the California coast. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites don’t need to be in the soil to survive, and as a result, build their nests above the ground.
In the wild, drywood termites feed primarily on dead trees. But when they live near humans, homes and other structures can be at risk. Drywood termites will eat firewood, structural beams, and hardwood floors in or around a home. They can also eat through floors and walls and may make their way into the home through shingles or attic vents.
Drywood termite colonies are typically far smaller than the colonies of subterranean termites. A usual drywood termite colony might contain only a few thousand termites, compared to the millions that might live in a subterranean colony. This means that they are also less likely to cause the same level of damage: while drywood termites can still cause significant destruction if left alone, their smaller colony population means that they do so more slowly.
Dampwood termites prefer to eat wood with a high moisture content and typically dwell in humid climates, most often in western and southern states. Unlike subterranean termites, and similar to their drywood cousins, dampwood termites don’t need regular contact with the soil to survive. Instead, the high moisture content in the wood they seek out provides them with all the water they need. Dampwood termites live in smaller colonies, while the termites themselves are slightly larger than drywood and subterranean termites.
The fact that dampwood termites prefer moist wood bodes well for humans, as wood used to build homes and other structures is dry. Often only when a drainage problem exists, or a plumbing issue persists, will one find dampwood termites in the home. If they do manage to work their way into a home, bathrooms, basements, and kitchens are the likely entry points. Outside the home, and as is the case with other termites, dampwood termites are typically found in decaying trees.
Signs of Termites in Your Home
Sometimes termites make their presence known in obvious ways, and sometimes a termite infestation can grow for years undetected. Damaged wood is one of the most common ways to determine that termites are or have been present. Other ways one might become aware of termites include seeing a swarm, when hundreds of termites fly as they prepare to infest a new area, or discovering eggs or larvae of young termites. Termites may leave other evidence that they are in the vicinity, even if they are not directly visible. Termite nests, wings, frass (droppings), and mud tubes all indicate termites are around. This section of the guide details all of these potential signs and more.
1. Damage to Wood Structures
Wood damage is one of the most commonly recognized and understood signs that termites have been nearby. By constantly eating and digesting wood, termites have the potential to cause a great deal of damage to homes and other wood-based structures. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), subterranean termites alone cost between $1 billion and $7 billion in damage annually based on treatment, repairs, and reduced property value.
Termite-damaged wood can be found in walls, floors, ceilings, and other wooden structural components. Termite damage presents itself as splintered or weathered-looking, hollowed wood and can sometimes resemble water damage with buckling or swelling in floors and ceilings. Flooring that has been damaged by termites can feel soft and spongy, while walls produce an empty sound when tapped on. This sort of damage indicates termites are feeding within or below the surfaces and creating long grooves and maze-like interiors that weaken the wood’s integrity.
2. Termite Swarms
A swarm of flying termites seen in or around a home is almost a sure sign that a mature termite colony is nearby, if not inside the structure itself. Winged termites, or alates, are male and female termites that emerge from existing colonies and seek out new areas to expand. Swarming termites are not actively destructive to a home or structure, but seeing them is not a good sign, for two reasons. The first is that alates are not particularly good at flying, so they have limited range and are not found at great distances from a colony. The second is that swarmers are only sent out when a colony has reached its capacity and is ready for expansion, which means that the colony they are leaving is already quite large.
Subterranean termites prefer to swarm during the spring, while drywood termites swarm during summer or early fall, and dampwood termites swarm during summer. Environmental conditions must be perfect for swarming to occur. Typically, this is when the weather is beginning to warm following a period of rain, and winds are light.
3. Termite Nests
Another indicator that there are termites in or near the home is finding a termite nest. While swarming termites may end up some distance away from the nest they came from and are thus not an immediate cause for panic, a termite nest is usually the center of the termite colony and can be a problem if termites are still living in it.
Termites found in the U.S. live in expansive nests built by worker termites to provide shelter, protect from predators, and raise young larvae. The way a nest is constructed is influenced by the type of termite inhabiting the nest. For example, subterranean termites build their nests 4 to 18 inches underground where there is a source of moisture, and they create rooms called galleries that are connected by mud tubes. On the other hand, drywood termites live within the dry wood that they feed off and create labyrinths from the inside out. Lastly, dampwood termites require wet, rotting wood in order to build their nests within the decaying wood.
4. Termite Eggs
Unhatched termite eggs are small and oval-shaped, with a translucent white or light brown color. Collections of these eggs are large enough to be visible to the naked eye, but they can be difficult to find without the help of a professional termite inspector. This is because eggs are usually laid deep in a centralized location within a termite nest.
Queen termites can lay several million eggs over the course of their lifetime, and in larger colonies, other reproductive termites may lay eggs as well. After the eggs hatch, king and queen termites will take care of the larvae until they grow into productive members of the colony. This means that if you do spot termite eggs, it’s a bad sign: they indicate that not only are termites present in the home but that the colony is continuing to grow.
Newly hatched termites are known as larvae. They are roughly the same size as the eggs they hatched from and have soft, white bodies. They shed and regrow their exoskeleton through a process known as molting several times before developing into their mature role as workers, soldiers, or reproductive termites.
Larvae need food to grow, and like mature termites, they eat cellulose from wood with the help of worker termites who break down food for them, which continues to contribute to wood damage in the home. As with termite eggs, if termite larvae are discovered in the home, you should address the issue right away because their presence indicates an active, growing colony.
Frass, or drywood termite excrement, appears as oval-shaped pellets and is often confused with sawdust or sand. The pellets are about 1mm in length, six-sided, and appear in a variety of colors (beige to black) depending on the type of wood that the termites consume.
The droppings are often found in small mounds because drywood termites create “kick-out holes” in order to push out their fecal matter from the wood in which they nest. Frass usually piles up in window and door sills, but can also fall onto the floor if the termites have infested the walls or ceilings of a home.
Unlike the frass produced by drywood termites, droppings excreted by subterranean and dampwood termites often go unnoticed. This is because subterranean termites use their frass as a building material in the process of creating mud tubes. Similarly, dampwood termites live completely inside the wood they feed on and use their frass to plug the channels that they bore out of the wood. Termite droppings pose little risk to one’s health as the droppings do not contain any diseases and are composed entirely of cellulose and plant material. They can, however, cause a flare up for individuals with allergies, or respiratory issues, such as asthma.
7. Mud Tubes
Because subterranean termites require moisture for survival, they connect their underground colonies to their above-ground food sources with mud tubes, which are designed to lock moisture inside the paths that they travel along. Mud tubes themselves do not cause damage, but they provide an environment in which subterranean termites can survive and thrive.
The tubes range from about one-quarter of an inch to one inch in diameter, usually seen along a home’s foundation or alongside walls. However, they may also exist in places less likely to be seen such as inside walls or crawl spaces within the home. If mud tubes are present in the home, a current or recent termite infestation is likely.
One sign that termites might be present in a home is odor, but it is difficult to be certain that there is a termite infestation based on smell alone. This is because termites often produce a smell quite similar to environments, which presents itself as a musty, mildew smell. Particularly for subterranean termites, which are attracted to moist, damp environments and decaying wood, it can be hard to tell the termites’ smell apart from the places they seek out. For that reason, if you suspect termites are present in your home, smell is only one of the signs you should consider.
While termites are small, they do make noises that can tip you off that an infestation is present.
Termites create clicking sounds by banging their heads against wood and shaking their bodies to signal danger when there has been a disturbance to the colony. In addition, termites are noisy eaters and can be heard as they eat their way through wood. They can also sometimes be heard making rustling noises while they navigate the channels within wood.
10. Difficult-to-Open Doors and Windows
Another indication that termites have invaded a home is when doors and windows become difficult to open. As termites eat their way through door and window frames, the moisture they produce causes the wood frames to warp. In turn, this warping results in a door or window that sticks and becomes more difficult to open.
Understanding Termite Control & Prevention
Effective termite control involves two major components: taking measures to prevent termite infestations from developing and treating termite colonies that are already present. You don’t necessarily need a professional for termite prevention and treatment, so if you have the time and aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty, you can save money and successfully reduce the risks associated with termites. Whether you choose to do it yourself or work with a professional, the first step in developing a successful treatment strategy is a thorough inspection.
When to Conduct a Termite Inspection
Termites continuously feed on wood and can create extensive damage to the home. For that reason, it is important to stay on top of any potential infestations. You may be required by a mortgage lender to have a newly purchased home inspected for termites, and experts recommend conducting a termite inspection on a yearly basis thereafter. However, anytime you see signs of termite activity, you should not hesitate to conduct a termite inspection. The most common way to conduct a termite inspection is to hire a professional, but some prefer to do it themselves.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Termite Inspection
Property owners can identify many of the signs that termites are present described above with a careful look in and around their property. Most signs that termites are present are visual and simply require a comprehensive walk-through of the premises.
Typically, the tools required are a flashlight or other light source to illuminate dark areas and a screwdriver or comparable tool to probe wood for weaknesses. You may also want gloves and a set of coveralls to keep yourself clean.
To conduct an inspection, you should thoroughly check the inside and outside perimeter of the home for signs of termite activity. Any areas where wood is found at or near ground level should be carefully assessed, including wooden supports in the basement or foundation, window sills and frames (especially at or below ground level), decks, porches, and even wood piles, stumps, or wooden furniture near the home.
As you inspect each of these areas, you will want to check for signs of damaged wood, along with mud tubes, shedded wings, termite nests, and other common indicators of termite activity.
For a more thorough and comprehensive termite inspection, a professional inspection may be preferable. Termite inspectors frequently have more advanced equipment like infrared thermometers or moisture detectors that can help identify termite activity in areas that an amateur might miss.
Some professional pest control companies, like Orkin and Terminix, offer free termite inspections. These companies make it easy to set up appointments online or over the phone. For other companies, a typical termite inspection will usually cost between $75 and $150 per inspection, depending on the size of the home.
After the inspection has been completed, the inspector will recommend a specific treatment plan for homes already infested with termites, or suggest a plan to prevent future infestations from occurring.
Termite Prevention Techniques
It is far easier to prevent termites from establishing a colony in your home than it is to treat and remove termite colonies once they are present, so taking appropriate precautions can help you avoid costly treatments and repairs in the future. Many of the prevention techniques available do not even require highly specialized chemicals or equipment to carry out. Termite prevention tactics can be classified into several broad categories, described in detail below.
1. Removing Access Points
Removing access points involves eliminating or reducing the number of areas where termites can enter the home. Because termites can find their way into the home in a number of ways, you should carefully evaluate every possible access point.
This begins with properly sealing your home. Water and gas lines may have gaps where termites can enter, so you should be sure to seal those areas, and any open vents should have a bug screen installed to keep termites out. Areas around windows and doors may also be particularly vulnerable, so check the weatherstripping in these areas to make sure that the seal is secure.
Termites may also be able to enter the home in places where wear and tear is evident, so keeping up with maintenance around the home can also be an important preventive measure. For example, cracks in your home’s foundation can be an entry point for termites, so repairing any damage there will also help keep termites out. For homes with a wood exterior, a fresh coat of paint can seal off tiny crevices where termites might be able to establish a presence.
2. Reducing Food Sources
Termites need access to food to survive, so you can make your home a less desirable location for them by trying to reduce the amount of cellulose materials near the home.
One of the key steps here is to try to lower the number of places where wood comes into direct contact to the ground. You should try to make sure that door frames, siding, and wood lattice have some distance from the ground. Termites can also be attracted to wood-based materials stored around the outside of the home. Dead trees, stumps, roots, and wood piles should be removed from the property. Firewood should be stored at least several feet from the home and kept off the ground if possible. When using landscaping mulch, you will want to keep it at least six inches away from the home’s foundation, and you should consider using a non-organic material to act as a barrier.
3. Reducing Moisture
Dampwood and subterranean termites rely on moisture and access to water, so reducing excess moisture in and around the home is an important step for deterring infestations. Inside and outside of the home, be sure to watch for and repair leaking pipes, faucets, and air conditioners. Crawlspaces and basements should be dry, and you should use fans to assist with ventilation if needed. Outside of the home, rain gutters should be clear and working properly to divert water away from the home (try leaf guards to keep them clear of debris), sprinklers should not be aimed at the home’s foundation, and shrubbery should be trimmed with at least 12 inches between the shrubbery and the home’s exterior to allow for proper air flow. The key with any leaks or moisture in the home is to address the issue quickly, and if you have wood that has already experienced water damage, you should remove and replace it as soon as you can to minimize the possibility that termites will enter.
4. Termite Barriers & Repellents
If you want to be particularly proactive in stopping termites from making their way into your home, you can place barriers, repellents, or other treatments on your property to stop termite infestations before they begin.
This can start even during the construction process if you are building a home. For example, a basaltic termite barrier (BTB), which is a layer of tightly packed particles that termites cannot travel through, can be placed under the home to stop future infestations. Other building choices during the construction phase, like using steel framing or a poured concrete foundation, can help reduce the likelihood of termites being able to start a colony later.
For homes that are already built, other sorts of preventive measures are still available. For instance, chemical termite barriers are often used as a treatment for known infestations, but they can also be used as a deterrent. A chemical termite barrier entails digging a small trench around your property and placing a termiticide in it to create a protective barrier. If you are not sure about using a chemical treatment, some plants like vetiver, catnip, and mint have also shown deterrent properties in keeping termites away.
When bringing new lumber into the home, it is important to first inspect it for termites before using it. Wood shingles are one source that termites like to hide in, as well as used lumber. It is advised to periodically monitor all interior and exterior wooden areas for changes, and when found, to address those issues as quickly as possible.
How to Get Rid of Existing Termites
When homeowners discover a termite infestation on their property, they are faced with the choice of whether to bring in a professional termite exterminator or to try to treat their homes for termites themselves. The benefit of hiring a professional is that they usually have more specialized tools and equipment along with greater expertise on how to apply different treatments for maximum effectiveness. But in reality, many chemical treatments that a professional might recommend can also be applied as a DIY solution. Below we will cover some of the most popular methods to deal with termites, including both chemical and non-chemical approaches.
1. Termite Spray
Termite spray, or termiticide, is a type of insecticide that is used to chemically control termites. While it can be applied using a liquid or foam application, the purpose of the termiticide is to create a barrier around the perimeter of the home in order to poison and kill any termites that come in contact with it.
Fipronil is one of the most effective, commonly used termite poisons. Fipronil works by disrupting the normal function of a termite’s central nervous system before killing it. Termites cannot detect this poison, which results in their unknowing contamination of the rest of the colony. The poison spreads upon contact, which means that one termite has the ability to infect the entire colony. The chemical is also slow-acting, which enables poisoned termites to come into contact with even more members of the colony before eventually reaching their death. A single application of this treatment can be effective for several years, although it is recommended to reapply every couple of years.
The most effective approach for using Fipronil is to create a termite barrier around the perimeter of the home. To do this, the homeowner or exterminator will dig a trench around the home that is around six inches wide and six inches deep. Then, they will pour the properly diluted solution into a sprayer and inject the solution into the trench according to the manufacturer’s instructions. After spraying the trench with the poison, the trench will be refilled with the excavated soil. This method allows the poison to bond with the soil and effectively kills termites that come into contact with it.
For homeowners who need an easier application, the solution can also be applied directly onto the foundation without having to dig a trench. However, this technique results in a less-effective barrier and is not as long-lasting.
2. Termite Bait
In contrast to the termiticide spray method, termite bait is more user-friendly while still being highly effective against killing termites. Bait stations consist of a poison-laced wooden stick housed by a plastic tube. Since termites feed directly on the wood, they unintentionally consume the poison and carry wood fibers into their nests where they infect other members of their colony and ultimately die.
Proper installation of bait stations involves placing the stakes along the perimeter of the home. Stakes should be placed two to three feet away from the home’s foundation and approximately 10 feet apart. When all of the bait in a station has been consumed, the stake pops up to indicate that it is time to replace it with a fresh stake.
3. Direct Chemical Treatments
Sprays and baits are considered indirect approaches to eliminating termite infestations because they are usually placed outside of the home and rely on the termites taking poison back to their colonies. But if you find an active infestation inside your home, you may want to apply a direct chemical treatment to take care of the problem immediately.
One way to do this is to use a termiticide foam and apply it anywhere you suspect that termites are present. These foam treatments are also usually based on chemicals like fipronil, but at a lower concentration than what is used for chemical barriers. Another alternative is boric acid, which is less toxic than fipronil but still effective in eliminating termite populations.
4. Tenting & Fumigation
Tenting a home is a common treatment option for severe and difficult-to-access drywood termite infestations. The process involves sealing the home with an external tent before injecting fumigant that circulates into hard-to-reach places and kills the termites. The entire process takes 1–3 days, and due to the dangers associated with the chemicals used, it can only be performed by a licensed professional. While tenting is a highly effective treatment technique, it is both costly and disruptive, as residents will need to remain out of the home for a few days during the process. Additionally, it’s important to note that fumigation is not a prevention method—it provides no protection against future infestations.
5. Non-Chemical Treatments
Some homeowners may be worried about the effect of chemical treatments on their home and outdoor areas, pets, children, or the environment as a whole. While chemical treatments are safe when applied correctly, users will find that non-chemical treatments can be used effectively instead of, or as a complement to, chemical approaches. Some of the most popular non-chemical termite treatments are described below:
- Diatomaceous earth – Diatomaceous earth is an organic powder consisting of fossilized aquatic organisms, known as diatoms. Although diatomaceous earth can be highly effective in treating above-ground termites, it is not as effective against subterranean ones. Apply this product by spraying it into cracks, termite infested wood, and any other areas where termite activity is suspected.
- Beneficial nematodes – Beneficial nematodes are tiny roundworms that exclusively feed on harmful insects, like termites, while leaving beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, unscathed. The nematodes work by invading and feeding on the bodies of harmful insects, ultimately releasing bacteria that lead to their hosts’ deaths.
- Botanical oils – Substances like cedar oil and orange oil interact with termites in ways that break down their bodies and disrupt their ability to grow and reproduce. By applying these oils where termites are present, you can dissolve termite eggs and larvae and shut down essential biological processes in mature termites, leading to their death.
- Sunlight – Sunlight works to kill termites naturally. While it might be difficult to use in indoor areas, like basements, it is effective for use on furniture and other moveable items. To kill termites by use of this method, place the items outdoors in direct sunlight for two to three days.
Do Termites Come Back After Treatment?
Unfortunately, there is always some risk that termites can return to your home even after you have treated an infestation. A treatment may not necessarily eliminate an entire colony, especially if the treatment is applied incorrectly. It may take multiple rounds or types of treatments to wipe out an infestation depending on the type of termite, the size of the colony or colonies, and the size of the structure they have infested. After treatment, it can be difficult to confirm that the infestation has been successfully eradicated, especially when dealing with subterranean termites. And even if you have completely eradicated a colony, nearby termites can migrate onto your property and create a new infestation.
This is why ongoing monitoring, prevention, and treatment are critically important for keeping your property free of termites. As mentioned previously, you should have termite inspections conducted on your home on an annual basis. If you have had an infestation, you should quickly repair damaged or vulnerable areas of your home, preferably using materials that have been treated with termite-repellent substances. Additionally, you should identify and address potential access points where termites could enter the property, such as any area where wood material has contact with soil. And to prevent future infestations, you should also consider applying liquid treatments or placing termite barriers to deter termites from reaching your home.
When to Hire a Professional Termite Treatment Company
Termite infestations are often discovered only once significant damage to the structure has already occurred. At that point, the scope of the termite infestation is beyond what the typical homeowner will be able to handle through DIY methods. If you’ve observed blisters in wood on your floor or walls or find signs of termite wings and mud tubes, you likely have a serious infestation and need the assistance of a professional to resolve it.
Professional termite control companies are better equipped to identify potential threats and access points, and have access to tools and methods that can more thoroughly address termite infestations at the root.
Professional Termite Treatment Cost
Termites cause more than $5 billion of property damage to U.S. homes every year, with homeowners spending an average of $3,000 to repair termite damage when it has been discovered. In some rare cases, termite damage may be so severe that it requires an entire section—or even an entire home—to be rebuilt. And most home insurance policies have limited or no coverage for termite damage, so if you have an infestation, odds are you will need to carry that expense out of pocket.
Fortunately, many termite control companies offer ongoing prevention and treatment plans that help reduce the risk that a property owner will have to pay for an expensive treatment and associated repairs. In exchange for monthly or annual payments, these plans frequently cover the costs of annual inspections, treatments when active infestations are discovered, and, in some cases, the cost of repairing termite damage.
Given the downsides of not addressing a termite infestation in its entirety, the costs of effective termite control—whether from a one-off treatment or an ongoing service contract—can be well worth the expense. Still, no homeowner wants to be caught off-guard when they receive the bill for treatment, so it is important to understand what you might pay and what factors will affect that amount. We will cover both of these topics below.
How Much Does Termite Treatment Cost?
The average cost of termite treatment nationally is between $500 and $600. At the low end, a relatively simple termite treatment might start at $200 to $300, whereas a more extensive infestation in a large home could easily reach into the thousands of dollars.
If you are already facing an infestation, your costs can vary substantially depending on the situation, a variety of factors related to your home, and the recommended approach to treatment and prevention, all of which will be discussed in more detail in the following section.
Pricing is most often quoted on the basis of linear feet, or the perimeter of the home, and prices can range from $3 to $16 per linear foot. For instance, if you had a one-story, 1,200 sq. ft. home with dimensions of 30 ft. by 40 ft., the linear footage of your home would be 140 ft. (30+30+40+40). From there, you can estimate a potential range based on typical prices per linear foot of $480 to $2,240. Simple chemical treatments tend to be on the lower end of this range, while more intensive treatments like tenting tend to be on the higher end.
Average Costs for Common Termite Treatment Options
|Treatment Method||Average Cost (per linear foot)|
|Termite Bait Systems||$9–$13|
|Tenting & Fumigation||$10–$20|
For a termite protection plan, most providers will offer coverage at a cost between $300 and $600 per year depending on the home and area. Given how expensive treating an infestation and making repairs can be, along with the usual costs of inspections or preventive treatments, this expense is fairly easy to justify.
The best way to get accurate information about the cost of a termite treatment for your particular situation is to consult with a professional and set up an initial inspection. When a termite control company inspects your property, they will recommend different options based on the signs of termite activity or risk factors that they have observed and make recommendations accordingly.
Factors Affecting the Cost of Termite Control & Treatment
The size of your home is one of the primary factors that will impact the cost of termite treatment. As mentioned above, pricing for termite control is frequently calculated on the basis of a home’s linear footage. This is in part because larger homes may require more time and materials to completely address termite threats.
Larger homes take longer to inspect and treat, so you will pay more for the cost of labor as a termite control specialist locates termites before treatment, applies treatment where termites have been spotted, and checks that they have been safely eliminated afterward. To treat infestations, larger homes may also require more of the tools and materials needed to eliminate a termite colony or colonies, which will be factored into the cost you pay.
Another important factor in the cost of treatment is the type of termites found in the area. Different types of termites have different characteristics that may affect the treatment or preventative measures recommended. For instance, subterranean termite colonies are much larger and are frequently treated with bait, whereas for drywood termites, which have smaller populations, a small-scale fumigation or direct treatment may be preferred. These factors increase or decrease the cost to the property owner accordingly.
Infestation Size & Scope
Larger infestations require more effort to treat, which will be reflected in the cost of treatment. To ensure that a large infestation has been dealt with in its entirety, a termite control professional will possibly need to apply multiple types or rounds of treatment, use a more intensive treatment approach, inspect the home for secondary colonies, and perform follow-up work to see that the termites have been eliminated. In contrast, if you catch termites early, before a large colony has established itself, a termite control company may just be able to apply a simple direct treatment at a low cost and use some inexpensive preventive measures to stop future infestations.
Some termite infestations require intensive approaches that can come with a higher price tag. Chemical treatments and bait tend to be less expensive forms of termite treatment on average because they can often be done easily and at a relatively small scale. At the other end of the spectrum, any method that involves tenting—whether to fumigate the termites or a heat treatment that temporarily makes wood uninhabitable—will be much more expensive. A professional will give you their best judgment based on factors specific to the home and the area, but because there are multiple methods available for termite treatment, you may be able to get a more affordable approach if cost is your primary concern.
The location of your home may also play a part in the cost of termite treatment or a prevention plan. One of the main reasons for this is that the risk that you will deal with a termite infestation varies from location to location. Termites prefer warm, humid environments, so southern states with that climate like Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida tend to have the most frequent and most severe termite infestations. If you live in a place where termites are a common threat, you may find yourself paying more—since severe infestations will be more frequent—and will likely also want to pay a termite control company for additional preventive measures that reduce your risks.
How to Find the Best Termite Treatment Company
Termites are a serious concern, which means that finding a high-quality termite control company is of the utmost importance for any homeowner who wants to protect their property. From nationally recognized names like Terminix and Orkin to small, local pest control companies, there are a lot of companies in the termite market, especially in areas where termites are more common. It can be a challenge to sort through all of the options and be sure that you are selecting a high-quality provider, but in this section of the guide we will explore some of the key criteria to keep in mind as you shop around.
If you have a termite infestation in your home, you want the assurances that your chosen termite control company has the right tools and methods available to make sure that the problem goes away. Most termite control companies offer common interventions like liquid treatment or bait, but other options like termite barriers, fumigation, and heat tenting may not be offered, especially by smaller companies. This is especially important to know if you have a large infestation because more intensive forms of treatment may be required.
In addition to asking what types of treatment a company offers, you may also want to find out what other noteworthy services or benefits the company provides. For instance, some companies may offer packages that also include preventive or recurring treatments. Others may advertise eco-friendly termite control products that minimize potential harm to pets, children, or others. And if you have other pest problems, many companies who work in termite treatment also offer solutions for other insects and rodents in your home.
Some transactions that you make with a termite company will be one-off expenses for jobs with a predetermined scope. However, termite companies also frequently offer recurring treatment plans or packages that provide ongoing service as needed. This option may be desirable for homeowners who live in areas where termites are common and the risk of infestations is greater.
Termite protection plans function somewhat like an insurance policy. The property owner pays the termite control company on a regular basis (e.g. annually or monthly), and in exchange, the company conducts regular inspections, treats termite activity, and offers repairs of termite damage at zero additional cost or at a discount. You can renew your plan as often as you like, and if you are unsatisfied, most termite control companies will let you cancel with 30 days’ notice.
If you do opt for a package or recurring plan, it is important to know exactly what the terms of the agreement are to be sure that you are receiving good value and adequate protection. You should check to be clear on what services are covered and look for any conditions or exclusions in your plan. You should also research whether a company offers bonds, warranties, or guarantees, which will be covered in more detail below.
Bonds & Guarantees
To help reassure homeowners that termite treatment plans are worth the expense, termite companies frequently offer a warranty or guarantee, often called a termite bond, on their termite treatment plans. Essentially, these represent promises that the termite company’s ongoing work will meet certain standards for quality and effectiveness for as long as the termite treatment plan lasts, frequently at least one year. If termite problems recur, the company usually promises to treat the infestation at no additional cost. Some companies will additionally cover repair costs associated with termite damage, though this is frequently offered for purchase separately. Companies additionally offer guarantees on services performed under the terms of a plan, which means that the company will perform additional inspections and treatments if necessary to make sure the customer is satisfied when addressing an infestation. Termite companies’ warranties and guarantees will differ in what they cover, so you will want to ask about the specifics of each as you research potential companies.
Because termite infestations can be such a serious danger to your home, you should only work with termite control companies who have a great reputation and track record of success.
One important characteristic to check is whether the companies you are considering are up to date on any licensing and certification requirements in your state. Many states have legal requirements on companies and potentially individual technicians who carry out termite control treatments (see California’s Structural Pest Control Board as an example). This is to ensure that work is done safely and effectively. You should ask the termite control companies you are considering or do a little research to make sure that they are operating in line with the laws of your state.
You should also consider other property owners’ experiences when selecting a termite control company. You can always ask others about a company or look up their online reviews, but one other good metric to consider is the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB grades companies based on values like fairness, transparency, and responsiveness to customer complaints. In short, companies with good ratings are considered likely to be fair and ethical in their dealings with customers.
Because termite control treatments can get expensive, cost will be one of the key factors that property owners consider when evaluating their options. Costs will vary on a variety of factors described earlier in the guide, but you may be able to find some more specific information about costs with a given company through online research or by asking others who have used their services. Some companies even have quoting tools online for you to get a sense of what you might pay.
Of course, the most accurate pricing information will come directly from the termite control company once they have inspected your home for termite activity and developed a potential treatment plan.
Best Termite Treatment Companies
Our researchers have reviewed information about major termite treatment and control providers across the country to find the best names in the industry. Below is a list of the top termite treatment companies on the market, with summaries of their product offerings, policy terms, guarantees, costs, and more.
Terminix (Best Termite Control Company Overall)
Terminix is one of the longest-running termite control companies in the industry. Founded in the 1920s, Terminix has been a leading scientific researcher on termite control for nearly a century. It has relied on these innovations to become an industry leader in termite treatment and control. Today, Terminix’s 12,000+ employees serve nearly 3 million residential and commercial customers worldwide.
Like many other termite control companies, Terminix’s approach begins with a deep, thorough inspection of a property for signs of termite activity. Terminix’s specialists then develop a customized treatment plan based on their findings and then carry out any necessary termite control measures. The type of treatment provided will depend on the home’s location, property type, construction method, and current termite status.
Terminix’s core services for termite control are its “Bait Defend System,” “Liquid Defend System,” and “Tent Defend System.” The Bait Defend System involves placing termite bait stations at strategic locations around the property. The Liquid Defend System uses a chemical solution near points in a building’s foundation where termites might enter to poison the termite colony. Finally, the Tent Defend System is Terminix’s approach to fumigation, dispersing a termiticide throughout the property to eliminate colonies in highly infested buildings.
Terminix offers services for both commercial and residential property and operates in every state except for Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana.
Terminix offers three separate termite treatment plans that differ in price, level of warranty provided, and other pests treated.
- Basic Termite Plan: includes bait stations, an annual inspection, and the company’s “Nix Termite Guarantee,” which is a guarantee that should termites come back, Terminix will treat the infestation free of charge.
- Advanced Termite Plan: includes all Basic services, as well as the company’s “Nix and Fix Termite Guarantee,” which also covers up to $250,000 in any new termite damage.
- Premium Termite Plan: includes all of the above plus ongoing pest control services for common household pests, such as rodents, spiders, ants, and cockroaches.
Bonds, Warranties, & Guarantees
Terminix offers a notable advantage over its primary competitor, Orkin, in terms of the financial protection provided for termite damage repairs. Customers enrolled in Advanced or Premium Plans with Terminix are eligible for up to $250,000 in coverage. It is important to note that meeting the specific requirements outlined in the “Nix and Fix Termite Guarantee” can pose certain challenges. We have heard complaints from customers who feel that the warranty terms are overly-restrictive. Nevertheless, we suggest familiarizing yourself with the fine print and considering termite companies that offer such warranties to ensure comprehensive protection.
Terminix Corporate currently has an A rating from the Better Business Bureau. However, many local Terminix offices have their own ratings with the BBB, which may be lower or higher. You should check for a BBB rating or another source of information like customer reviews to see if your closest Terminix branch reliably meets customers’ needs.
As is usually the case, Terminix’s exact service costs will depend on factors unique to your property and the type of infestation you might be facing. The best way to get pricing information from Terminix is to schedule a free inspection through their website or 24/7 phone line, after which a Terminix specialist will quote the costs of an appropriate termite treatment plan. However, customers do tend to report that Terminix is slightly less expensive on average than comparable services from Orkin.
With effective tools and expertise, comprehensive guarantees, and competitive pricing, property owners of any type can’t go wrong with Terminix, which has earned our pick as the Best Termite Treatment Company Overall.
Orkin (Runner-Up Best Termite Control Company)
Founded in 1901, Orkin is the longest-operating major termite control company in the U.S. Orkin has extensive domestic and global reach and is renowned for high-quality, professional service in its termite and pest control offerings.
Orkin’s treatment plans begin with a thorough inspection of the property to evaluate signs of termite activity. From there, Orkin will develop and implement a tailored termite control plan determined by an Orkin specialist.
Orkin’s liquid treatments use Termidor, a fipronil-based treatment that can be applied indoors, outdoors, or within building foundations. Orkin also advertises the use of OrkinFoam and low-moisture Orkin Dry Foam to treat harder-to-reach areas where termites have infested. Orkin also provides termite bait using Sentricon bait stations, which is applied in areas most at risk of attracting termite infestations. Orkin is also capable of using tent fumigation treatments.
Orkin has the widest geographic reach of any termite control company in the U.S., serving 49 states—everywhere except for Alaska.
Orkin’s termite control services are primarily offered through a Continuous Protection Plan. The Continuous Protection Plans are renewed on an annual basis.
These plans can incorporate a direct liquid treatment or a combination of direct liquid treatment and baiting and monitoring. In addition to the termite control measures, Orkin commits to ongoing inspections and monitoring of the home to watch for termite activity, the option of re-treating termites if an infestation occurs following Orkin’s treatment, and industry-leading guarantees to back up Orkin’s quality.
Bonds, Warranties, & Guarantees
For most termite control companies, a 30-day guarantee period after treating an infestation is fairly standard, but Orkin’s guarantee—which is actually three different guarantees covering slightly different circumstances—goes even further than the competitors at 60 days. The first guarantee offers full reimbursement for Orkin services within 60 days if the customer is not satisfied. The second provides 60 days of complimentary service in the event that a customer is dissatisfied with the results of their regular service. Finally, Orkin offers to pay the customer for up to 60 days of regular service from other pest control providers if they remain unsatisfied with Orkin’s work.
Orkin has the highest marks of company reputation of any termite control provider covered in this guide. The Better Business Bureau gives Orkin a rating of A+, and Orkin has the additional distinction of being an accredited business with the BBB. This means that Orkin exhibits the highest standards of fairness and ethical business dealings according to the BBB.
The most reliable information about Orkin’s costs for termite control will be available through your local Orkin branch, because so much about your property’s termite treatment needs will be dependent on Orkin’s initial inspection and evaluation of the area’s unique termite risks. To request a quote, you can fill out a simple form on Orkin’s website or call Orkin’s main phone line to be referred to a local branch.
Some information online suggests that Orkin’s prices are just slightly higher than other major competitors like Terminix, but their prices are not far out of line with what is typical for termite treatment and control services.
While its pricing is slightly higher than competitors, property owners will find that Orkin is well worth the cost. Its reach across the U.S., variety of treatment methods, and strong guarantees make it a fit for all types of customers, contributing to Orkin’s stellar reputation and making it our pick as the Runner-Up Best Termite Control Company.
Rentokil (Best for Local Expertise)
Rentokil is a global company based in the UK with more than 90 years of experience in pest control, including termites. Despite its origins abroad, Rentokil has a strong presence in the U.S. pest control market and is among the top national providers of termite treatment and control, having purchased multiple regional pest control companies throughout the country over the years. Companies under the Rentokil umbrella include J.C. Ehrlich, Presto-X, and Western Exterminator.
The primary termite treatments Rentokil offers include liquid termite treatments and termite bait stations. Rentokil specifies that its liquid treatments can be used either to address active infestations or placed as a preventive measure. Rentokil’s baiting and monitoring uses Sentricon and can be carried out with in-ground bait stations placed around the perimeter of the property or using above-ground bait stations that are placed within the property. Rentokil can also carry out tent fumigation for termites.
Rentokil has an impressive reach for commercial and residential services in the U.S., though not quite as extensive as larger competitors like Orkin and Terminix. Rentokil and its subsidiary companies can be found in 46 states, all except for Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, and North Dakota. In particular, J.C. Ehrlich serves the East Coast; Western Exterminator operates in Western states; Anderson Pest Solutions covers the Great Lakes region; and Presto-X covers the Midwest, Southwest, and South Central markets.
Rentokil’s core protection plan for termite treatment and control is the Pestfree365 + Termites plan. By itself, Pestfree365 is a plan paid monthly that offers ongoing protection against 36 different types of pests and includes periodic termite inspections. However, as is the case with comparable offerings from competitor companies, Pestfree365 does not include termite treatment services, so customers interested in termite protection must upgrade to the Pestfree365 + Termites offering, which also includes in-ground termite baiting and monitoring. This is a downside compared to competitors like Orkin and Terminix, which have plans oriented around both baiting and liquid treatments.
Bonds, Warranties, & Guarantees
Information about Rentokil’s guarantees for termite treatment in its U.S. locations is somewhat difficult to find and may vary slightly according to the Rentokil brand offering services. For example, subsidiary J.C. Ehrlich’s Termite Warranty will pay to repair structural wood damage from termite activity on qualifying properties that are enrolled in an Ehrlich protection plan. In contrast, Presto-X does not offer such a guarantee.
Rentokil North America currently does not hold a rating with the Better Business Bureau. However, this fact should not be cause for alarm. Rentokil operates under several different names in various regions of the U.S., including J.C. Ehrlich, Presto-X, and Western Exterminator. You should check the BBB ratings of local branches under these names and look for customer reviews to evaluate Rentokil’s track record of doing right by its customers.
Estimating termite control costs is difficult because of the unique home-based and geographic factors that contribute to termite infestations, but Rentokil’s costs can be especially difficult to gauge because of the company’s regional structure. For instance, Western Exterminator deals more with drywood termites and recommends treatments like fumigation more often, whereas Presto-X and J.C. Ehrlich operate in areas where subterranean termites are more common and other treatments may be warranted. This will naturally lead to differences in the typical costs of treatment and control.
As always, the most reliable way to get pricing information is to contact Rentokil directly. You can call their phone line or submit a request for a quote online and they will refer you to a local branch that can set up an inspection and provide estimates.
Because Rentokil operates under different names in different markets, some of the pros and cons for your Rentokil termite control services will depend on the brand and your location. This can be a negative because it could be harder to compare to national termite control companies—but it can also be a positive because Rentokil’s offerings are tailored to unique regional needs. For that reason, Rentokil is our choice for Best Termite Control Company With Local Expertise.
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