Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Call Out to the Brain Trust: Seeking to Avoid Barn Termites

This is the kind of thing I am seeking to avoid.  (Picture: )

  I am not joking.  I truly consider the readership of this blog and some of my cyberspace friends to be some of the brightest people I know.  Often, their strategies for dealing with challenges are superior to those provided by people who supposedly do such a thing for a living.
            I have a question for all of you which I know must impact other readers worldwide.  I will update this post periodically with input from those who either post responses here, or contact me in private or by e-mail.  This way we will all learn something about this important issue.
            I live in Virginia in an area where termites are particularly fierce.  Most people here have a Contract with Terminix or similar company to inspect their home annually and treat if necessary.  In our first farm we had a mailbox for a time, mostly for fedex deliveries.  We placed a salt treated post in the ground with a mailbox on top, and within a year the salt treated post, which must have been treated in a marbelized fashion, had the telltale small tunnels that termites bring.  We eventually simply took the mailbox down.  One of the neighboring farms replaced his with a brick mailbox holder.  Suffice it to say, termites and healthy and well established here.

This is late termite damage in a post in a pole barn.  ( )

          I am not overly worried about my house here.  A large portion of my house was constructed using superior walls, and so there is no wood on the first floor anywhere near the ground.  Much of the house is brick and there is some vinyl siding on the second floor.  We do have a second story deck and we watch it very carefully.   I am concerned about our outbuildings though.  We have four fairly large outbuildings of wood with steel roof, each built on concrete slabs.  These are primarily animal, kennel, alpaca, horse, and garage buildings.   Originally when these were built the builder used a chemical around the perimeter of each building to "sterilize" the area from termites.  This was not a problem because there were no animals residing in any buildings at the time.  We housed them in temporary buildings which existed in another part of the farm at that time.  We did not move animals over to the buildings for quite a time and my then, the chemicals used were inert.
       This year,  I need first to ensure that there is no termite activity anywhere.  My husband the engineer has inspected each building and they all seem fine, but I would like to treat to prevent termites.   All of these buildings are either occupied by animals now, or frequented by people...  farriers, sons rebuilding a car or two, kennels, or storage.
       Goes anyone have some wise words or strategies relating to a high risk termite area, appropriate chemicals that will not injure people or animals ?   I will contact an exterminator and get input also, but so many of them are suburban exterminators and may not know much about farm issues or animals.  I will also post the response of whichever farm or equine vet wishes to weight in on this big question.
        Are termites an issue where you are ?   Do you worry about stacks of wood, downed trees, or shredded pine as used for horses as an attractant to termites ?  Thank you all in advance for your input.


russell1200 said...

I am just south of you, so yes termites are a huge problem. The best first strategy, which you already noted, is to keep wood from coming in contact with the ground.

I think you are wise to worry about the effects of chemicals in relation to animals. Here in NC, I would call (or e-mail) the NC State University cooperative extension and see what information they have. I am not sure which land grant university (which is what the Techs and Ags almost always are) would be best in your area, but truthfully, I doubt the people in NC would mind all that much answering questions from people out of area. I have always found them to be helpful.

BBC said...

We have ants here that are as bad as termites. Terry has some of his buildings sprayed when needed. I don't really have any suggestions I think you would like but when I want a barrier on wood I melt Styrofoam with gas until I have a nice plastic glue and spray it on the wood.

Some folks think the plastic glue is flammable, but only until the gas evaporates and the plastic cures.

I've also mixed sawdust in it to repair damaged wood, it becomes a plastic wood sort of like Trex.

Just a cup of gas melts a lot of it so it's cheap to make and gets rid of a lot of styrofoam.

kymber said...

Jane - i can be of absolutely no assistance here but i wish that i had some advice. we just don't have termites here. recently though, a friend in BC who was looking to sell her house, had someone, not a specialist, tell her that her extensive decking was full of termites. she had a professional come in and needless to say, something like $10,000 later, the decking was replaced. basically, selling the home with the termite-damaged deck would have been picked up during house inspection. most prospective buyers would run screaming. so they had to fix the termite problem.

i know that some of your readers will have much experience with termites...i just wish that i was one of them!

love to you and yours, always. your friend,

JaneofVirginia said...

Kymber, Thank you for your lovely response. I knew that termites were not a problem in NS because our house there has a concrete slab and then vinyl siding much lower to the ground than would be acceptable here. I asked about it and in my research the ground is too salty for termites. Sounds good to me !

JaneofVirginia said...

I actually don't have any barn damage. The structures are all new. However, I realize that if I don't have a regular strategy for prevention that this will indeed be an issue.
I did know that carpenter ants are a very big problem. I once sold a house in the Northeast and because ONE carpenter ant was found on inspection we had to treat for carpenter ants. I didn't mind that but we had to move to a hotel for two days with our tiny kids !

JaneofVirginia said...

The wood does not come in contact with the ground but there are poles inside some of the buildings which go deep into the dirt and then a concrete slab below was added. Virginia Tech is probably the university to talk to locally, but I am not sure which office to call. I will call both yours and mine, and report back to this blog page so that anyone searching will have the question, and then will have safe strategies to choose from, and perhaps an annual strategy for termite prevention. Thanks, Russell.

Linda said...

I know of two solutions to your problem. One has been outlawed--creosote. However, I would be willing to have someone bootleg it for me. The recipe is in "10,000 Formulas." Maybe that is 100,000.

The other I borax, a salt. Wood must be immersed and fully soaked to make it impervious to damage. It must be soaked and thoroughly dried about three times before using it for construction. Powdered borax can be used or a liquid solution to standing buildings. Google "borax treated wood termites" and see what comes up.

Just because the wood is not close to the ground means little. You will see tunnels up from the ground to the wood on any surface--rock, concrete, plastic. The termites use the tunnel to reach the wood. Termite damage can be found many stories up from the ground. Sometimes the tunnels are on the inside of the house and sometimes on the outside.

Linda said...

Why did my comment disappear? I know I typed it. Or, are these comments moderated? hmmmm

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks Linda, I was really only concerned about the wooden barn area near the house. Now I realize I should have the entire structure inspected perhaps each year or every other year. (More money !)
I remember well painting fences with creosote when I was a young girl. I loved the smell, and frankly I miss it. Thanks for the input !

JaneofVirginia said...

Yes, all comments are moderated because we have a ton of companies who spam me with their products. If their product could help someone and it applies to the post they have commented on, I let it through. If it doesn't, it doesn't get through. Thanks for your comments !

aelina humstoe said...

your blog is have provided very useful information about Termite Control Services. just keep posting!!

JaneofVirginia said...

Thank you Aelina, In some places termites are an occasional hazard. In much of the American South they are a significant and ever present potential problem. I am doing my best to get the word out, and to be watchful about protecting our farm from termite infestation overall.