Poison-Free Alternative

For those reluctant to use pesticides of any kind in or around the house, a few nontoxic termite treatments have been developed, primarily to treat drywood termites. While free of noxious residues, these methods are not widely available and, unlike pesticides, lack any long-term protection against reinfestation.

Bake 'Em
Eradicates drywood termites, the satellite nests of Formosan termites, and many wood-boring beetles. The house is wrapped in a tent (the same as for fumigation), then hot air is pumped in until the center of the framing lumber reaches 120° for at least half an hour. The treatment is fast — one day from start to finish — and the house can be reoccupied immediately. Plastics that are sensitive to heat, including vinyl windows, have to be protected or removed.
Cost: $1,200 to $6,000; more if the windows are vinyl.

Zap 'Em
Exterminators send high-voltage discharges through the wood and fry any termites present. (The same tool can also be used to find termite-weakened wood.) Effective as long as all the colonies are discovered. Only able to treat exposed wood. Nearby metal, concrete, or soil may interfere with the process.
Cost: $500 to $650 for spot treatment; $1,200 to $2,500 for the whole house, including warranty and associated follow-up inspections and treatments.

Making Termites Feel Unwelcome

What you can do:
• Clean overflowing gutters and use splash blocks to divert water away from foundation.
• Trim shrubbery clear of house.
• Isolate wood from concrete or masonry with an air space or flashing.
• Keep wood mulch away from wood siding or trim.
• Store firewood off the ground at least 15 feet from the house.
• Don't bury scrap wood or leave tree stumps in the vicinity of the house.
• Fix leaks immediately.

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