Many homeowners living in the Southern states protect their homes from subterranean termite damage with chemical barrier-type soil treatments. While effective when applied and maintained correctly, these treatments can be compromised by post-treatment modifications to the exterior of the house, as well as inadequate maintenance of exterior features.
Chemical barrier treatments are effective because they create an envelope around the foundation of a house that prevents termites from tunneling through the soil to get to the structure. A treatment of this type can be rendered ineffective, however, if termites are given an alternate route to the building.
Figures 1 and 2 illustrate some common landscaping mistakes that may give termites a way around the soil treatment. The figures show a wooden deck, firewood (Figure 1), mulch, a trellis and a fence post (Figure 2), all in contact with the house. This contact acts as a bridge, allowing termites to travel over the soil treatment and enter the building undetected.
A demonstration showing conditions that would allow subterranean termites to get around a soil treatment was placed at the LSU AgCenter Coastal Area Research Station in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, near Port Sulphur. This demonstration consists of 15 examples to provide education on preventing conditions that can assist subterranean termites in entering houses.
It is very important to exercise caution when making any changes or additions to the exterior of your house. Take care not to let anything that is in contact with the ground also touch your house, or termites may use such items as a pathway around the soil treatment and right into your house.