6 Ways Subterranean Termites Enter

6 Ways Subterranean Termites Enter

How do Sub Termites Enter a Slab Home

A common question I’ve often been asked, Do subterranean termites infest homes or structures built on slab foundations”? The answer is Yes. So how do they get in a home constructed on a cement slab? Here’s how they do it.

6 Slab Subterranean Termites Entry Points

  1. One of Subterranean termites favorite modes of slab entry is by, building a tunnel out of surrounding dirt particles traveling up the outside foundation wall from ground level up to a crack or fault in the siding or brick. They pass through this opening and arrive inside an exterior wall cavity, wall studs and wood bracing becomes their food. If the wood is damp, maybe from a leaking window termites will not have to travel all the way back down to their colony nest for water and can stay longer to gather more food. These tunnels are normally visible and are one sign of termite infestation that anyone could find if it were there and you were looking for it.
  2. If you have a termite infestation in an outside wall but there is no tunnel visible the sub-termites could be entering from below ground level in the expansion joint between your slab and a brick veneer. Usually you don’t know you have a termite infestation until you find termite damage because the sub termites are entering hidden from view.
  3. Subterranean termites can also enter through a settling crack in the slab itself. In this case if you have carpet you won’t see them and they could end up anywhere in your house before you know it. I was on one job where termites actually ate a grading stake that was left in the slab by the builder and infested a bathroom down the hall almost 25 feet away. We had to remove the carpet to find the entrance point. Treating the hole was simple with termiticide then filling the hollow with concrete did the trick. It took two 2 hour trips to find their entry point and to get those termites under control.
  4. I found another infestation in a slab room addition where the homeowners had installed a window A/C unit and braced it with two by four framing. Termites entered the 2 x 4s and into the window frame. Wood to ground contact is more common on homes with crawl spaces, but many homes have wood decks that allow entry. Wood decks attached to slab homes tend to be lower to the ground because a slab is built closer to the ground, so the decks are sometimes built directly at ground level with little or no clearance for inspection. I would suggest a poured patio unless the outside grade slopes down and away so that you will have enough clearance t crawl under the deck and inspect for termites.
  5. Termites come up from under the slab and enter the door wood framing, through this expansion joint.

Garage door openings tend to be constructed very near the garage floor slab and the poured drive-way. In almost all cases there is an expansion joint between the floor pour and the driveway.

  • Slabs wrapped in Styrofoam insulation are really an invitation to sub termites for hidden entry. I examined a house in Lagrange, Ga, and the homeowner she could hear something in the wall I searched the area just outside of the supposed infestation and found nothing. She insisted there was something there, so I can back the next day. After scratching my head I thought the only way to determine if she was right or not would be to remove the drywall and take a look. We did and she was absolutely correct. Subterranean termites were everywhere, damaged wall studs, paper backing on insulation and I still couldn’t find out how termites were getting in. I was outside scratching my head when I noticed a competitor drive by and it just so happen to be the owner of the largest termite company in Lagrange, Ga. He sat in his truck while I asked him what the problem could be. His answer was quick and to the point. It seems a builder built some experimental houses on monolithic slabs in this neighborhood and put the outside wall insulation down past the siding into the soil. I had never seen or heard of this practice before. He assured me if I used my pocket knife to trim back the exposed insulation I would find the termite tunnels, so we did and we found them. Completely hidden entrance point. Lesson learned. The Styrofoam not only hid the termites from view it also insulated them from any termiticide application.
  • That’s just a few common ways termites have entered slab constructed homes. There are always other ways, after all; we are dealing with a live enemy and they adapt to new circumstances. If you have experienced sub termites in your slab home, please comment below. I’d love to hear about it.

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    1. Sub termites can and will enter any wood framed structure in heavy termite pressure regions of the US. It’s just a matter of time and whether you have sever conditions conducive to sub termites infestation. Do a preventive treatment and don’t worry about sub termites.
    2. Many slab homes are now covered with Synthetic Stucco and those homes can have real subterranean termites problems.


    Termites Under House Slab

    Subterranean termites can live up to 18 inches below ground. Some species’ nests can have a radius of up to 340 feet. These habits mean that a subterranean termite nest can be located beneath a home.

    In states with heavy subterranean termite activity, the new home construction process often includes the application of termiticides under the foundation before construction begins. Some older homes have received pre-construction treatment, but this treatment likely has been diluted over the years and is no longer effective.

    Where treatment is non-existent or no longer effective, talk to your termite specialist about what prevention methods are most appropriate for your home.

    How to Detect Termites Under the House

    There are three main ways to discover termites under your home:

    • Via monitoring or bait stations.
    • During an annual inspection. (The inspector may notice signs of termite activity, including mud tubes along the side of the house.)
    • By tracing an active termite infestation from a spot in your house to a nest under your house.(Since subterranean termites build their nests underground, it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the nest.)

    Treat Termites Under the Home Slab

    A «slab» is a type of concrete foundation that does not have a basement or crawlspace. To control a termite infestation underneath the slab, a pest control professional typically will recommend a termiticide treatment that can be applied through rods reaching under the house or holes drilled in the slab.

    Damage Under a Slab:

    Bait stations installed underground are another method to control subterranean termites that nest under the home. However, bait stations can take much longer to control a colony than termiticide treatments since baits use slower-acting materials.


    Subterranean Termite Treatment Guide

    Learn How to Get Rid of Subterranean Termites

    Two-Step Treatment Process

    While you can save a lot of money by doing your own termite treatment, undertaking your own termite treatment can be time consuming and labor intensive. If, after reading through the instructions below, you do not feel comfortable doing your own termite treatment, we recommend you hire a reputable professional pest control company that specializes in termite treatments to do the treatment for you.

    If Possible, Treat the Termite Nest Directly

    Drilling into voids or wood:

    Drilling hole(s) may be required to gain access to the area where you suspect an infestation to apply the product of choice. You may need to drill into drywall to apply the product to a wall void or directly into infested wood to direct treat the termite gallery. When drilling into drywall, it is recommended that you drill holes about 18 inches up from the floor and in between each stud around the infested area. When drilling directly into wood it is recommended that you drill small holes every 3-4 inches until you find a spot where the drill bit does not meet resistance. This will indicate you have hit the termite gallery and the area where you should apply the product you have chosen.

    Apply the termiticide product directly into the drilled holes according to the product label. We recommend Taurus SC, or FUSE Foam. You can also use Termidor SC or Termidor Foam, but those are not as great of a value.

    It is important to be patient when using a non-repellent product as they can take up to 90 days to eliminate the existing termites.

    Pro Tip

    If you choose to use a borate product such as Boracare to eliminate the current infestation and to protect wood against future infestations, you should perform the outdoor soil treatment first and wait 90 days before using the Boracare. Using the Boracare first can cause the outdoor colony to branch off in a different direction, which, in turn, can allow the termites to invade a new area of your structure. If you choose to use a concentrated non-repellent product it is important that you have a dedicated sprayer just for this use. If you use herbicides or other insecticides in the sprayer, you could leave behind a residue that could adversely affect the non-repellent properties of the concentrate.

    Products needed for Step 1

    Termite Trenching

    The treatment outlined below is general and is outlining a subterranean termite treatment on a home or structure that has been built on a monolithic slab. If you have a question about what that is, or if you have a home on a crawl space, a hollow block foundation, a structure on piers or a structure on a floating slab, we recommend you give us a call at 866-581-7378. We will walk you through the treatment process for your particular situation. Please remember to read the entire product label for complete instructions.

    • Trench shovel or pick axe
    • 5 gallon bucket
    • Hand pump sprayer

    Tools needed if you have concrete interrupting areas that need to be trenched:

    • Hammer drill (can be rented from home improvement stores)
    • 1/2″ x 18″ or 1/2″ x 24″ concrete drill bit

    Using the pick axe or trenching shovel, you should dig a 6″ wide by 6″ deep trench directly against the foundation of the exterior wall where the termites were found. The foundation of your house will make up one side of the trench. The trench should be at least 10 linear feet long or stretch down the entire exterior wall that was infested.

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    Mix termiticide solution:

    After the trench is completed you can mix the termiticide solution. We recommend using the 5 gallon bucket for this step. Fill the bucket with 4 gallons of water. Add the recommended amount of concentrated termiticide as per the product label. Stir the solution thoroughly with a paint stirrer or other tool until the concentrated liquid is evenly dispersed in the water.

    Apply solution to the trench:

    You will need to pour 4 gallons of finished solution in every 10 linear feet of trench. Be sure to pour slowly to make sure the solution is evenly distributed.

    Treat the soil that was removed from the trench:

    As you are moving the soil you removed from the trench back into the trench you need to make sure it is also treated with termite solution. Using the hand pump sprayer loaded with one gallon of finished termiticide solution, spray down the soil as you are replacing it back into the trench. Spray the soil just until moist.

    Drilling through concrete:

    If concrete such as a carport slab or sidewalk is against the foundation in the area where you need to treat, you will be required to drill through the concrete to apply the termiticide solution to the soil. Using the hammer drill with a 1/2″ x 18″ concrete drill bit, come out 2-3 inches from the foundation and drill holes every 12″ into the concrete along the foundation wall.

    You are not only drilling through just the concrete here, but also as deep as you can into the dirt. The deeper the better. Once the holes are drilled, you fill at the same rate you did the trench, 4 gallons per 10 feet. If you drilled the holes 12 inches apart, then you would have 10 holes over 10 feet that you are trying to fill with 4 gallons. This works out to be a little less than half a gallon per hole. To fill these I would recommend using the one gallon sprayer on a «pin stream» setting so you can force the liquid down the hole and not splash it everywhere. You can also use a funnel and pour the termiticide down the holes. It is difficult to get 4 gallons per 10 feet in the holes, so it is important that you use a long drill bit, at least 18″ long so you can bore out enough dirt to hold the termiticide. Sometimes the ground is slow to soak up the termiticide you place in the holes. You may need to fill the holes, then go work on something else for an hour, come back and fill them again, go work on something else. 3 to 4 times to get the proper amount down the holes. Once the holes are filled all you need to do is patch them with a concrete patch filler you can buy at a home improvement or hardware store or you can use our Trebor plugs that will close the hole with no concrete mess.

    Pro Tip

    If you choose to use a concentrated non-repellent product it is important that you have a dedicated sprayer just for this use. If you use herbicides or other insecticides in the sprayer, you could leave behind a residue that could adversely affect the non-repellent properties of the concentrate.


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    Termite prevention – pre-construction termite treatment

    Pre-Construction Termite Treatment

    By Rachel C.

    The old adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure” is absolutely true, especially when it comes to building a home and preventing termites. While it is nearly impossible to prevent anything from happening one hundred percent, pre-treating the area where your home is to be constructed or where an addition is to be built, can drastically increase your chances of remaining free of termites.

    The goal of pre-construction termite treatments is to form a chemical barrier in the ground that will keep subterranean termites from coming up from the soil to feed on the wood structures. Because the area to be treated is free of obstructions (such as a building), this type of treatment is less labor intensive, and requires less termiticide to be used, making the treatment less expensive than treating an existing structure. Another benefit of pre-treating is that the exterminator can cover every square inch of ground, creating a more secure barrier.

    Soil treatment – Application of termiticide

    In order to properly treat for termites during pre-construction, the area will need to have termiticides applied several times at different stages. The exterminator will need to be in close contact with the builder in order to accurately arrange treatments. The design of the home and the type of soil it is being built upon may cause some variation in the application of the barrier.

    While methods can vary a bit depending on the building codes for the specific area, the first step for pre-construction termite treatment is usually to treat the slab. Once the land has been graded, the foundation form has been installed, and the footings have been dug, the area should be treated. This is usually done by treating with a termiticide barrier at a rate of one gallon of chemical solution per every ten square feet.

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    When the footings have been poured, a mason will complete the foundation using blocks over the poured footings. As soon as this is done, the foundation will be backfilled with the surrounding soil. The plumbing pipes are laid, and more soil is added if necessary. It is at this time that the entire area is treated again with a termiticide barrier. Some extermination companies opt to skip the first treatment, and begin pre-construction treatments at this time.

    While termites cannot bore into or eat concrete, the slabs can crack with time creating perfect entry points for them. If the surrounding soil has not been treated, the termites can make their way to the slabs, through the cracks, and into the main structure.

    Final preconstruction treatment

    The final pre-construction treatment comes with the last grading, but prior to the landscaping. It is recommended that a trench be dug approximately four to six inches deep and at least twelve inches from the foundation out into the yard. Four gallons of termiticide is applied for every ten feet surrounding the home in a continuous spray.

    After the home is complete, it is still a good idea to keep the protective barrier intact. This can be done by taking care not to disturb the soil surrounding the foundation in the twelve inch radius. If you plan to add a deck, porch, or other addition to the home, the protective barrier should be extended an additional twelve inches into the yard from the new structure.

    Rodding treatment

    A more extensive pre-construction treatment can also be done in place of or in addition to the above mentioned spray method. This type of treatment is known as “rodding” and is carried out by injecting a permethrin based termiticide gel deep into the ground.

    Traditional spray methods only allow the termiticide to penetrate about one inch into the ground. Rodding uses a metal pole that ranges from four to six feet in length, and is filled with the termiticide. The top of the pole has a knob that keeps the pole pressurized. The pole is repeatedly pushed into and pulled out of the ground to remove the soil, leaving behind deep holes. This is done until a grid pattern of holes, approximately eighteen inches apart is formed. The holes are then injected with the termiticide gel in order to keep termites away from the area.

    How long does pre-construction treatment last?

    A proper pre-construction termite treatment can last anywhere from two to five years. Even though these treatments are quite effective, it is still recommended that inspect your home periodically for any damage or signs of termites. Also, try to keep the area surrounding the building free of residual wood or other cellulose based material, as these attract termites. This will ensure your structure is continually protected and will head off any potential infestations before they begin.

    Rachel C. is a writer who has several years experience writing for the pest control industry. She is a frequent contributor to magazines, some publications, and websites.

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    Concrete slab treatment

    Subterranean termites live below ground and may enter the structure passing underneath the concrete slab. The termite treatment method is to apply a liquid pesticide (termiticide) to block this possible entry point.


    During the injection with a rod, back flow of chemical may occur from the injected hole or the adjacent holes:

    • Safety concern for the Pest Control Operator and the home-owner
    • Contamination
    • Waste of chemical and less efficiency


    Choose the best protocol for your company: combine your effective termiticide with the best proven practice for consistency in your treatments with the MABI injectors

    Neat treatment with no time-consuming cleaning after injection

    Quick with no need of patching with a replenish system


    Drill holes of 1/2” vertically through the slab along the exterior or the interior of the foundation spaced every 12 or 18 inches maximum as per label direction. Drill holes around pillars, along all cracks, expansion joints, plumbing, utility services penetrating the slab. Always refer to the manufacturer’s termiticide label for proper placement of drill down holes and locations.

    MABI injectors are inserted into each drilled hole, using a hammer. They have been developed to keep enough pressure during and after the injection. You can adapt at the bottom of the MABI injector a diffusing tube that helps direct the termiticide laterally to get better dispersement or an extension rod to reach further.

    The chemical is injected with low pressure with a gun and a pump. For each injection, the injected product quantity should be controlled in order to respect the manufacturer’s chemical product instructions. After the injection, MABI injectors are left inside the holes and serve as plugs. You can hide them with a suitable sealant and do not use them again. But more likely, you can decide to add a cap for aesthetic reason and to protect the connection head of the MABI injector. In case of clear evidence of reinfestation or breakdown of the termiticide treated area you will be able to use the same injectors with no need for new drilling.


    • TDAKS says:

      I do wish that people would stop saying that in ground baits ‘attract’ termites. They simply do not. If you put on a blind fold and run through a forest then chances are you will ‘find’ a tree. Termites ‘encounter’ bait stations through relentless foraging.

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