Frequently Asked Questions
Click here for an easily digestible, general information on the biology of termites.
- What is the advantage of applying chemicals inside my walls rather than in the soil, like all other pest control companies?
- What does 5 Star cover under the guarantee provided with my treatment?
- What am I getting for paying my annual renewal fee to extend my guarantee?
- How can we prevent termites in our home?
- What are Exploratory Tubes?
- How do the termites get into my home?
- How long does it take for termite damage to occur?
- We have termites in our home. Why don’t our neighbors have them, too?
- What are termite tubes?
- How far will they travel?
- When are termites most active/least active?
- Your guys were out here last week but the termites still seem to be active. Why is that?
- What areas of Arizona do you service?
What is the advantage of applying chemicals inside my walls rather than in the soil, like all other pest control companies?
The traditional treatment methods for subterranean termites involve treating the soil under and around your home. These attempts at control are performed under names like “Down-drilling, Angle-drilling, and Trenching.” The goal, with these methods, is to create a barrier in the soil to stop/prevent termite infestation in the structure.
The first problem with these long-standing practices is the tools of the industry have changed dramatically in the last 25 years. The chemicals used 25 years ago have not existed since then, having been pulled off the market due to toxicity to the environment and people. Since this occurred, the effectiveness of soil applications have decreased every time another highly toxic chemical was pulled off the market. Today, the pest control industry is heavily regulated as to what can be used to control pests. The industry’s traditionalists have not evolved with the tools given to them by the EPA. The effective period of time for chemicals in soil varies, but is around 5 years according to most manufacturers’ literature. In our experience that effective time is much less, 6 months to 2 years. This is great for the environment, but cripples the longevity and effectiveness of soil applications.
The second problem lies with the chemicals being applied under and around your home. From the second they are pumped in to the ground, they are losing their effectiveness. Everything disturbs or breaks down these chemicals in the soil. Micro-organisms in the soil that break down plant matter, breakdown these chemicals. Inclement weather like heavy winds and rain move and wash away the chemical barrier. The extreme heat and constant beating from the desert sun breaks down the chemicals. You as a property owner will inevitably disturb the barrier by digging holes and/or trenches for planting plants and running irrigation or wiring around your home and not even know it.
The third problem rests again with the chemicals, in general. You do not want to have repeated exposures to chemicals if you don’t have to. With a barrier of chemicals encircling your home, you, your children, and your pets will come in contact with them. Not only will you come in contact with these chemicals, so will birds and other wild life that may be around your neighborhood.
5 Star solved these problems by adapting to a changing industry over 15 years ago. Shelby Hawkins evolved 5 Star’s treatment practices years before the last of the toxic chemicals were pulled off the market. As a result, 5 Star has almost 2 decades of experience applying termiticides above ground in an industry just realizing that it is the future. 5 Star applies the ETT444® low toxicity, organic chemicals to what the termites are after in the first place, their food. Their food happens to be the walls inside of your home. This is the perfect environment to place these chemicals and have them last. The expected length of effectiveness of an ETT444® treatment is 10-12 years. This is apparent by our industry leading 10 year renewal option on every full treatment. Inside the walls ETT444® is held safely away from weather, light, excessive heat, and micro-organisms that break down modern chemicals. The chemicals are also held safely away from you, your children, and pets. 5 Star provides the longest lasting, low in toxicity for you and the environment treatment available today.
What does 5 Star cover under the guarantee provided with my treatment?
5 Star will cover the entire structure(s) initially treated for subterranean termites, inside and out. After a full or superior treatment has been performed, there should be no further termite infestation in or on the structure. Any reoccurrence of termites will be stopped by a retreatment of the infested area. The extent of the retreatment is determined by the technicians sent out to evaluate the infestation. No matter the extent of a re-infestation, we would solve the problem at no extra cost to you.
Any structures not attached to the treated structure are not covered. The guarantee is on a structure, not a property. Wood fences, tree stumps, and termites out in your yard are not covered. This due to the products labeling stating we are in violation of the law if treatment goes beyond 3 feet from the covered structure. Also the termites are just doing what they were intended for, recycling plant matter back into the Earth.
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What am I getting for paying my annual renewal fee to extend my guarantee?
You receive an additional year’s coverage for termite re-infestation as explained above. You will also need to have an annual termite inspection performed by our technicians. They will look for active termites and conditions conducive of termite infestation.
What we will not do is retreat your entire structure or any part of it just because. We are legally bound by the EPA approved, manufacturer’s labeling of our chemicals. They state if no active termite infestation can be found, it is illegal to apply chemical, period.
How can we prevent termites in our home?
|moisture attracting termites to patio post|
Moisture is one of the most important factors in preventing termite infestations. The desert is naturally a dry place. When we build our homes we start changing the environment around them. This is due to landscaping choices, poor grading, or lack of drainage. Keeping plants 3-5 feet away from the foundation is very important. Native plants or plants that don’t require excessive watering are highly recommended. Gutters, downspout extensions, and drainage channels are important for our heavy monsoons. Finally, grading your property properly so all water runs away from the foundation.
Earth to wood contact is never a good thing. Make sure all patio posts, fence posts, or support piers are in or on a concrete footing.
A faulty grade is when the soil against the exterior wall of a building is high as or higher than the interior concrete slab level. This allows easy access for termites to enter from the soil. Keep soil as low as possible around the perimeter of your home.
Excessive wood against the home can make termites become interested in the area around your home. Keep beds of wood chips to a minimum, or not have them at all. Keep wood piles away from the home all together. Keep cardboard boxes and other paper products off of the soil and expansion joints in the garage.
What are Exploratory Tubes?
|Inactive Tube||Active Tube|
An exploratory tube is the termite equivalent of a military reconnaissance mission. Termites build a mud shelter tube up from the soil to look for food. These tubes are generally seen on the foundation of frame homes, but can appear on all construction types. Usually seeing a termite tube on your homes foundation is a clear sign of infestation. If you have had a traditional termite soil application applied to your home, an exploratory tube is a definite sign of failure in that treatment. However in the case where 5 Star has applied the ETT 444® to your home this is not necessarily true. Because the ETT 444® chemicals are held safely above ground in your walls, the termites can build tubes up to them without exposure to the chemicals. Everything changes for the termites when they actually enter the wall void. Due to the chemicals having been applied to the base of the wall, the termites will begin to die and abandon the exploratory tube. The tube structure will remain until something or someone physically knocks down the structure. An old, abandoned exploratory tube will be small (width of a shoelace or smaller) and very brittle. By touching the tube, it should crumble off the foundation with ease. Weather will slowly deteriorate a tube’s structure, too. In this case you may find a partial tube, meaning it has gaps in the structure from soil to the wall. It is important to watch the area where an exploratory tube has been noted to see if it has been rebuilt. If it has been rebuilt in the same place as the original, you should call 5 Star so we can send out technicians to investigate further. If the tube does not return, you have nothing to worry about. The termites will move on from your home and find a house not treated by 5 Star to eat.
How do the termites get into my home?
Subterranean termites live in the soil. They tunnel from the ground and come up through the slab or the outside of your home to get to the wood & paper products making up the structure. When tunneling from their native soil environment into your home they do so by constructing mud shelter tubes. They do this to bring their subterranean environment along with them. The most common place to see these mud tubes is on the exterior of frame construction buildings. They can enter through cracks, as small as 1/64 of an inch, on the interior walls of the home. These cracks can occur due to settling under the foundation. There are also a multitude of cracks, due to different construction types, that can allow them entry. Multi-level foundations, building additions, plumbing walls (due to drain and water feed lines foundation penetration), sub-slab air return ventilation systems, sunken showers, sunken laundry rooms, and block construction abutting frame construction are just some of the areas to be mindful of when preventing a termite attack.
Drywood termites do not live in the soil. The only way drywood termites can move around is by swarming /flying to a new area or by moving to connecting pieces of wood from an already infested board. They only swarm when environmental conditions are right. In the desert southwest, this is around the start of our monsoon season. They will usually enter a structure through water or rot damaged pieces of wood on the exterior of the home. They can live in a structure from 6 months to 2 years without showing themselves. For this reason, they are generally the more difficult termite to deal with.
How long does it take for termite damage to occur?
|cosmetic damage caused by termites eating paper||beginnings of structural damage|
This is a difficult question to answer. It is relative to what your definition of damage is. Most species of subterranean in the desert southwest cause cosmetic damage, at least, in the short term. By cosmetic we mean, superficial damage to sheetrock and structural wood members. They cause this type of damage because the native desert termites go after the paper (cellulose) on sheetrock as an alternative to the non-native wood products (fir and pine boards) our homes tend to be made of. The paper more closely resembles the weathered deadfall from our native trees, shrubs, and cactus skeletons. With that said, structural damage does still occur. If your home was infested by a non-native species, they may take to eating the structural members more quickly. If the walls of your home are constructed out of plaster and lath, there is no paper and the termites will take to eating the wood first.
In both cases, it is hard to say how long the damage will take to be of concern. Having regular inspections (annually) and a preventative treatment program for your home is the best way to avoid damage of any kind.
We have termites in our home. Why don’t our neighbors have them, too?
Your neighbors may have already had their homes treated by 5 Star! They may also have termites but not be aware of it. The materials used to pre-treat/treat their homes may have been different, with different breakdown rates, than yours. The old adage “It’s not if, it’s when” rings oh, so true when it comes to termite infestation.
You may have conditions conducive of termite infestation in or around your home that they do not. Having annual inspections by 5 Star can help you manage these conditions. All of our inspectors have been trained to point out potential problem causing conditions to you so you can correct them.
What are termite tubes?
Termite mud, shelter tubes are not necessarily just mud. They also construct them with their feces, materials in the walls like gypsum (the white part of sheetrock), and glue it all together with their spit using their mouth parts. More info than you needed to know, right? They must do this to maintain the environment they are used to in the soil. Without these tubes they wouldn’t last long out of the soil. It is like us paving a road way to get from point A to B. As they establish a feeding zone within the structure, these tubes are expanded. If left unchecked they can become as large as a grown man’s wrist. They add tubes on top of tubes for more up and down termite traffic. It is similar to expanding a freeway to many lanes in a densely populated area.
How far will they travel?
Termites can enter your home and appear 50 feet or more from their point of entry. They will head for moisture leaks (if they exist) in the home. They will also head back to places they have infested before. Termites leave pheromone (scent) trails in feeding zones that can last for years. If termites reenter the structure anywhere near these scent trails, they will try to make their way back to where they know there is good eats.
When are termites most active/least active?
Termites are most active when it rains or when the humidity is very high. Wood will absorb the ambient moisture, which makes it more attractive to the termites. Warmer times of the year are also better for the termites. During monsoon season we will see a spike in termite activity.
Winter will usually keep them in the ground unless they have a well established feed route. A good freeze will reduce termite activity too, but that is few and far between in the desert.
Your guys were out here last week but the termites still seem to be active. Why is that?
While the initial treatment will kill any termites in the immediate area, it can take 10 to 12 weeks before the termites completely stop building their tubes and die. The termites building the tubes during this 10-12 week period are desperately trying to return to their home (the soil) without having to pass through the treatment zone. If there is no water source for them to live on in the structure, they will die much faster. In the end, dehydration will kill them. Simply knock down any tubes for the 10-12 week period. Keep them knocked down even if they rebuild again within the 10-12 week period. If they persist in rebuilding them after the 10-12 week period is up, give us a call so that we may take a look.
We Service all of the greater Tucson Area for pest control. Termite services are provided for all of Southern Arizona. For more information visit our page on all the areas 5 Star services.
For more information, contact us via email or call us at 1-520-886-0045,
or toll-free at 1-888-887-0045.