Termite Treatment: The Beginner’s Guide To Exterminating Termites

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The best way to get rid of termites for most people

by | Feb 20, 2019

After interviewing and researching a wide range of exterminators, insect experts and termite damage victims, Steve Whitaker, who spent countless hours researching termite biology, behavior, and both professional and DIY termite elimination methods has created what we believe to be the world’s best and most practical guide to getting rid of termites.

TL;DR – The Short Answer:

Expert Recommendation

“Taking into account price, service plans, customer service, and customer reviews, and after comparing DIY options, my recommendation is that most people should hire Terminix to eliminate their termite problem. Terminix offers the best and most consistent way to get rid of termites for most people.”

terminix logo

Why You Should Trust Me

I have been enthralled with arthropods (insects & spiders) since I was in grade school. It would not be off-base to say that I have been working on this guide for practically my entire life. To find the most practical information, I went straight to the source and conducted interviews with termite exterminators and, perhaps more importantly, regular people who had hired termite exterminators both with good results and with bad results. I studied the biology of termites, their behavior patterns and researched both harsh chemical treatments and pet-friendly natural ingredients that can be used for extermination needs. I also looked into conventional methods (e.g. calling a pro) and unconventional DIY methods (e.g. cardboard box barriers) and ultimately drew conclusions that I think will save people both time and money. This guide was my labor of love and I am confident that you will find the answers you need within this guide.

– Steve Whitaker

Termite Extermination Visual Overview

Termite Extermination Checklist

Termite Extermination Checklist

  1. Ace immediately!

    If you have identified what you think is termite damage, act immediately! Termites eat wood from the inside-out so if you can actually see damage, it is likely much worse than what you can see!

  2. Confirm the damage is actually caused by termites rather than a similar insect.

    Use these tips to determine if the damage that you see is actually caused by termites.

  3. Hire a professional exterminator.

    While there are some DIY termite extermination options, experts and many of the termite victims that we interviewed agreed that the smartest option for most people is to hire a professional to eliminate the problem swiftly and effectively.

  4. Prevent future termite problems.

    To prevent the need to hire professional exterminators in the future, use the recommended prevention tips.

Various species of termites have been a nuisance to man since man started depending upon wooden structures for shelter and storage. In our modern age, these little critters can cause thousands of dollars of damage. We will explore some facts about termites, the biology of termites, how to control termites using chemicals and natural pest control strategies.

We will follow that by addressing three national pest control companies as options to eliminating your current or future termite issues. The advantages and disadvantages of each company will be discussed as well as the costs and the services each company provides. 

Identifying Termites

The lion share of termite damage is caused by subterranean (underground) termites. These termites are members of the family Rhinotermitidae. Among these ground-dwelling termites, the most common structural pests are the eastern, western, and Formosan subterranean termites. Subterranean termites will eat your framing and softwoods starting at the bottom of the house and working up the structure of the house.

Dry-wood (family Kalotermitidae) and damp-wood (family Termopsidae) termites also cause structural damage. Dry-wood termites enter at the roofline while damp-wood termites prefer basements and bathrooms or where water leaks can be found.

If you suspect your home has damage due to termites, confirm that the pests are termites. Some people mistake termites for ants. Let’s identify the difference between termites and ants.

Termites Versus Ants

Winged ants are morphologically similar to termites; therefore, some people confuse termites and ants. Here’s how to tell them apart:

  • Winged ants and termites have antennae however termite antennae are straight, and ant antennae are bent.
  • Ants have narrow waists like bees. Termites have wide waists.
  • Flying ants and termites have two pairs of wings, however termite wings are the same size. The ant’s forewings are larger than the hind pair of wings.
  • Termites range from about 1/4 “to 3/8”, about the same size as a carpenter ant or a large fire ant. Damp-wood and dry-wood termites are larger than subterranean termites.
  • Worker termites are translucent. Specifically, workers tend to be almost transparent, brown or gray.

Signs of Termites

Termites eat wood from the inside out, therefore you probably won’t find the wood-eating pests until your home is infested. In fact, you are more likely to discover signs of damage than actual termites. Keep your eyes peeled for:

  • Sawdust or sand-like material near windows and door frames. This material can be droppings of dry-wood termites. You may even see tiny holes where the sawdust has accumulated
  • Mud tubes created by subterranean termites to connect the nest to the source of wood. Investigate the base of the exterior and interior of your home where the frame attaches to the foundation, Points of contact may be the crawlspace or basement. Look for brown, branching structures. These structures can also hang from joists.
  • Shed wings from the swarmer termites or the pests themselves near windows or windowsills. Mating pairs are attracted to light.
  • Wood that sounds hollow when tapped
  • Wood that looks water-damaged but never exposed to water
  • Blistering wood that has been painted or varnished
  • Damage wood grain

If you find termites, get the job done right and call a pest control specialist.

Prevention

Methods of prevention include digging a trench and spraying an insecticide into the ground to repel termites or a poison barrier that will adhere to termites’ feet to be carried back to the nest. These applications can last for five to 10 years if left undisturbed (J. Clayton personal communication, January 28, 2019)

Bait stations aren’t labor intensive but must be checked regularly. The stations need to be 8 to 10 inches deep in the soil and placed every 8 to 10 feet (J. Clayton personal communication, January 28, 2019).

If you live in areas where termite infestations are common, it’s important to have your home inspected by a professional regularly for possible termite infestations. Catching termites early can save you costly home repairs.

Common Types of Termites

 

Eastern Subterranean Termites

Swarmers of this species are about 3/8”, and the heads of eastern subterranean termites have a distinctive rectangular-shape. Eastern subterranean termite soldiers defend the colony with powerful mandibles.

Eastern subterranean termites prefer a moist, dark environment. These termites focus on the structural beams and framing of buildings, consuming the middle of beams and all that is left behind of the beam is a thin shell. Any evidence of this species can be challenging to identify. In most cases, by the time the infestation is discovered the damage has been done.

Formosan Termites

The soldiers of this species measure about ½”. The head is dark and oval with straight antennae and no eyes. The abdomen is rounded with a thick waist. The Formosan soldiers also wield powerful jaws that the soldiers use to defend the colony.

Formosan termites are one of the most destructive termite species in the United States. These termites reproduce rapidly and due to their high numbers (the nests commonly contain millions of termites), destroy wood structures faster than other native subterranean species.

Today, Formosan termites annually cause millions of dollars of structural damage in the southeastern United States, California, and Hawaii.

Dry-Wood Termites

Dry-wood termites, which are only ¼” to 3/8”, live in smaller colonies than subterranean species. Dry, solid wood is this termite’s optimal home and food source, and wood-frame houses don’t stand a chance against these ravenous pests. The range for dry-wood termites extends from California to North Carolina in the southern half of the United States.

Dry-wood termites produce dry fecal pellets which they expel from the nest through small holes in the wood. If you find dry fecal pellets, chances are your home has dry-wood termites as residents.

As is typical with most termites, dry-wood termites consume structural wood starting on the inside and moving outward leaving a fragile shell. As the name implies, dry-wood termites don’t require damp conditions.

Eastern Winged Termites

The reproductive form of these termites is referred to as alates and look morphologically unique compared to workers and soldiers of the species. Alates possess one pair of wings of almost equal length. The wings lie flat against the termite’s back when at rest. Alates’ bodies are darker in color than soldiers or workers and have functional compound eyes. The termite alates are distinguishable from ants because of the characteristic straight antennae, rounded abdomen, and thick waist.

Eastern subterranean termites usually swarm during the daytime, between February and April. Winged queens and kings collectively emerge. These termites take flight ready to mate and start new colonies. The kings and queens’ bodies are dark brown or black. Warning! If you, unfortunately, catch groups of winged termites inside your home, you most likely already have a termite infestation.

Formosan Winged Termites

Formosan termites typically swarm from dusk to midnight. These termites also swarm later in the season than most other termites, usually between April and June.

Comparing Formosan alates (reproductive termites) to the eastern subterranean alates, you will find Formosan termites are lighter in color and are noticeably larger than our native termite species. Formosan alates bodies are a yellowish-brown, and the wings have a smoky color.

Termite Queens

The termite queen is morphologically distinct next to workers or soldiers. Queens barely resemble an insect due to the expansive abdomen which is full of eggs. Termite queens have a physogastric stomach. The stomach has a unique membrane that expands as her egg-laying capacity increases. The queen is capable of laying hundreds or with some species, thousands of eggs per day. Termite queens live extraordinarily long lives. Queens frequently have a lifespan of 15 to 30 years or more.

Do It Yourself Termite Control

To control and eliminate damp-wood termites the first step is to remove any infested wood. The second step calls for repair or elimination of the source of moisture. It usually is not necessary to spray infested areas to control this pest (Whitworth Pest Solutions 2018).

In terms of how to control subterranean termites, Whitworth Pest Solutions (2018) provides the following advice. A thorough treatment of the soil inside and outside of the foundation is crucial to establish a barrier around the home to eradicate these destructive pests. Drilling through cement porches and patios may be necessary to treat the area properly and completely. The portions of your home where soil and wood come in close contact should be treated. It is advisable to have this treatment performed by a termite control specialist.

Treatment Strategies for Termites

In the battle against termites, there are two common alternatives:

  1. Chemical termicides – These include liquids and baits. Tony Kaufman (2017), the owner of Varsity Termite and Pest Control in Arizona, has found soil-applied liquid termicides are the most effective.
  2. Natural methods – Kill Termite Guide.Com suggests seven ways to control and eliminate termites.

Killing Termites Using Industrial Chemicals (Termicides)

Kaufman (2017) identifies and defines four effective and commonly used chemical termicides.

    1. Bifenthrin – This termicide is used as a pre-construction barrier treatment in new buildings and as a perimeter barrier treatment for existing buildings. Bifenthrin is a synthetic pyrethroid pesticide. Currently, this chemical may be legally applied at three different concentrations. These concentrations are 0.1%, 0.05%, and 0.25%. Each concentration provides different lengths of protection. Be aware that Bifenthrin is classified as being of medium to high toxicity to humans.
    2. Permethrin – This chemical is a pyrethroid. Permethrin is a synthetic chemical that remains effective for more extended periods. It is registered for the control of active termites in trees and tree stumps only. Permethrin focuses on the destruction of the nest. This termicide is of low to medium toxicity to humans.
    3. Fipronil – Termites are attracted to the chemical. Fipronil causes death in termites for two reasons:
      • Direct effect of the chemical termicide
      • Fungal infection and infection from other soil microorganisms

      Fipronil is an extremely active insecticide belonging to the Phenylpyrazole family. This chemical is primarily designed and used to create a barrier around existing buildings. Fipronil has of low to medium toxicity to humans.

       

    4. Imidacloprid – A systemic insecticide which acts on the central nervous system of insects and belongs to a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids. Because imidacloprid binds much more strongly to insect neuron receptors than to mammals, therefore this insecticide is far more toxic to insects. Imidacloprid has of low to medium toxicity to humans.

    M. Behrens (personal communication January 27, 2019), with RediNational in Fife, Washington discloses, “Chemical termicides are much more effective in killing termites than natural methods.”

Killing Termites Using Natural Ingredients

The experts with whom I spoke all agreed that natural alternatives are excellent solutions for deterring termites from setting-up shop in your home. Laying down anti-pest (termite) barriers on newly constructed homes is an extremely smart choice.

Cardboard Traps

Cardboard traps are considered one of the most natural and non-toxic ways to eliminate termites naturally.

  1. Wet a few cardboard boxes.
  2. Place wet cardboard near termite infestation
  3. Termites will start colonizing and eating the cardboard
  4. Remove and burn the cardboard

Cardboard traps are effective because the cellulose in the cardboard emits a woody smell when wet. The scent attracts female termites, and the aroma is irresistible to termites. Offering termites wet cardboard is like throwing meat to a pride of lions or throwing chum in the water to attract sharks.

Exposing the Area to Sunlight

Termites are extremely vulnerable to sunlight and will die when exposed to sunlight and the accompanying heat. A practical solution is to dig up the nest and surrounding area to expose the termites to direct sunlight. J. Clayton (personal communication January 24, 2019), with Whitworth Pest Solutions, suggested an additional step. Clear any leaf litter or plant material around areas where a subterranean nest has been located.

For termite infested furniture, it may help to air the pieces of furniture outside in the bright sunlight during the hottest part of the day. This can kill off any termites that may be hiding inside the furniture and out of sight.

Eliminating Moisture

M. Behrens (personal communication, January 28, 2019) states, Termites love and thrive in areas that are rich in water moisture.

M. Behrens (personal communication, January 28, 2019) adds, “Once termites have been eliminated you must make sure that the interior of the building is kept dry and that there are no water leakage issues – if you have leaks, get the leaks repaired. All moisture damaged material must be removed and replaced. Make sure that there is no water pooling and in contact with the foundation.”

Beneficial Parasitic Nematodes

There are a few groups of parasitic Nematodes whose primary food source are small insects, and this includes termites. Introducing Nematodes to a termite nest is an effective way to remove a stubborn termite infestation.

Botanical Treatments

Neem oil is an effective botanical treatment for eliminating termites. The oil is extracted from the Asian Neem Tree. To kill termites, the Neem oil must be directly ingested by the termites. Neem oil requires repeated applications to eliminate an entire colony.

Orange Oil is another excellent botanical option. Orange Oil is an organic and environmentally-friendly weapon in the battle against termites. As the name implies, the oil is extracted from the skins of oranges. The active compound in the oil is d-limonene. Orange oil is powerful enough to kill termites on contact. Orange Oil is free from some of the risks that chemical termite solutions bring to the table. The oil has relatively low toxicity which makes the oil safer to use around children, animals, and plants.

As is the case with Neem Oil the one major downside is that multiple treatments will be required. Orange oil is best used as a localized treatment. If termites have chosen to establish a nest behind a wall or beneath the floor, then you’ll need to inject the orange oil into the infested areas directly. If you have a dry-wood termite infestation, and the nest has well-defined boundaries, then the nest is vulnerable to orange oil treatments.

Borates

Sodium borate, also known as borax, is another natural choice to remove termites. It comes in two forms, a sprayable liquid and a powdered solid. An advantage of using borates is that it is non-toxic to both humans and pets.

The most effective way of the two application options is to apply sodium borate as a spray the colony for best coverage. As with the botanical oil option, repeated applications of borate may be necessary to make sure that the entire nest is exterminated. The wise choice is to use borate treatments in conjunction with other natural treatments.

Using Heat and Cold Treatments

Using either hot or cold treatments to combat dry-wood termite infestations can be effective. To prepare your home for a heat treatment, you must remove any items in your home that would be damaged by high temperatures. Heated airflow is forced into the sealed structure with temperatures of up to 140 degrees. For a heat treatment to be effective kill the termite colony, the treated area must reach a temperature of 120 degrees for 35 minutes. Cold treatments require four days at a consistent 15 degrees to be effective in killing termites.

National Termite Control Companies

Three of the major players in the pest control industry in the US are:

  • Terminix
  • Orkin
  • Bulwark Exterminating

Before we delve into looking at these three companies, I’d like to point out that all major pest control companies offer the following:

  • 100% money back guarantee
  • Free estimates
  • Pest protection plans

All the companies in the pest control industry vary in price, price, and length of protection plans, services and service quality, training of employees, and customer service. Simply said, what works for one customer may not be right for another customer. Please keep this in mind as you move forward.

We would all agree that termites can cause significant damage to your home or property. Most insurance companies do not cover damage caused by termites. A wise course of action is to pay for the services of pest control services eliminate termites and inhibit future termite infestation.

When you have a pest control company coming out every month, there will be less for the tech to do per visit. Think of having pest control service on a monthly basis like having regular housecleaning service. The first time is a deep clean. However, follow-up visits are merely for the purpose of maintenance.

General Pricing Framework

I want to provide you with a pricing framework that you can use as a baseline when analyzing for pest control service estimates for single and multiple application scenarios.

Single pest control application

An example of the cost of contracting with a pest control company, Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management Services, based in Illinois, provides a three-treatment annual preventive maintenance program. This program costs $145 for the initial treatment. The following two treatments cost $79 each. The service is guaranteed, Chem-Wise will
re-treat at no additional cost. The company’s single service treatments have a 90-day guarantee. On top of all that, the company’s tri-annual service covers treatment for all crawling pests, except fleas, termites, mosquitoes and bed bug (Figy 2015).

Some pest control companies use the size of the home and the severity of the pest problem to provide an estimate. For example, a house approximately 1,500 square feet treating termites would cost $300. In this scenario, a house that is 1,501 to 2,300 square feet would cost $325. Consider an extra $25 for every thousand feet (Figy 2015). Owner of Day and Knight Pest Control, Dennis Day (personal communication, November 2012) told me once, “Price per square foot gets incrementally less as the square footage increases.”

What if I Need Multiple Applications?

Cost Owl.com (2019) reports that once you’ve selected a pest control company, the company will charge anywhere from approximately $50 to $70 to spray for insects. This one application will guarantee your property is free from
insects for about 90 days. Depending on the level of infestation you are experiencing in your home and property, you may need to have more frequent applications which will require that the company service your property on a quarterly basis. Choosing a quarterly service may cost $200 to $500. The ultimate cost depends on the size of your house and
property, and the insects to be treated.

The national average price for termite treatment is $1,535. The national average cost for interior and exterior pest treatment is $145 and $214, respectively (Figy 2015).

Terminix

Terminix was founded in 1927 and is based in Memphis, Tennessee. Terminix is a multi-national pest control company and is a subsidiary of ServiceMaster which owns several residential service companies. Terminix offers a range of pest control services in 47 states. The company provides insulation services to prevent future infestations along with comprehensive pest control services.

ConsumerAdvocate.org (2019) rated Terminix quite highly, “Terminix provides excellent, guaranteed pest control nationwide. They offer free estimates and inspections, customizable plans, and 24/7 support. With more than 90 years of experience, Terminix stands out because of the wide array of specialized services to protect the home. Some of these services include insulation and bedbug service, and wildlife control. Terminix was given an overall Rating of 10 / 10 (Excellent)”. Top 10 Reviews.com (2019) presented Terminix with the Gold Award for the Best Pest Control Services of 2019.

Let’s look at how much it will cost you to use Terminix to eliminate your pesky termite problem. Terminix service begins with a thorough free inspection of your property. Assessing each homeowner’s specific infestation issue is important for the technician to tackle the customer’s problem properly. Once the most effective treatment option is selected, you will be given an estimate for the initial treatment. Terminix initial treatments start from $95.00. You will be given an estimate for the initial treatment. The price may vary due to your location, the size of your property, as well as prices, may fluctuate from franchise to franchise.

If your home requires follow-up treatments, these treatments come at a price. Terminix charges clients $89.00 per follow-up treatment.

Additionally, Terminix offers a guaranteed 1-year treatment plan for$338.00. During that year Terminix pest specialists will treat and provide inspection of the infested area.

All Terminix services and treatment plans are guaranteed. That guarantee allows you to schedule another anti-pest application if you are unsatisfied with the treatment on your last visit. Terminix will send out a technician to retreat the affected areas within 24 hours. Terminix also offers 24/7 live assistance by phone.

What Terminix customers say

Joanna L. (Nov. 5, 2018) of Denver left a review,

“I recently placed a call for service, and Mr. Charles of the Lumberton office was assigned to inspect my home. I was initially embarrassed and ashamed. However, Mr. Charles made this initial process pain and stress-free. He took his time, walked through my home, explained not only the problem and potential solutions available to me, but he gave me realistic expectations. He explained pricing, forms of treatment, what was expected from me as a customer. I am thankful he took me step by step of my process, which eliminated my fears and negative assumptions. What made this inspection feel unique and more personalized for the type of treatment my family and home needs was the fact that Mr. Charles is also a veteran of the Armed Services just as I am, even sharing the exact same MOS. It’s one thing to have a crisis and have a gentle soul assist you, but it’s a different kind of care that comes from one vet to another. We in the trucker world have this old saying…’we run this train’ Mr. Charles, you are an excellent example of how a ‘train should be ran.’ Terminix, you should feel totally amazed to have this gentleman as the first face to anyone seeking help in pest relief! THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH MR. CHARLES OF THE LUMBERTON OFFICE FOR EVERYTHING AND MOST IMPORTANTLY FOR HAVING SUCH AN AWESOME PERSONALITY AND BEING SO WELL-VERSED IN YOUR FIELD. “ (ConsumerAdvocate.org 2019)

Lana O. of s, Texas (10/17/2018) reported,

“Great service-always on time, lets me know the day prior, and 30 minutes before arrival. I am bug free. Always asks if I have any problem areas.

Samuel from Woodruff, South Carolina (Jan. 14, 2019) left this review.

“Terminix representative, Terry, made deceptive statement during contract negotiations. Asked what APR for Terminix credit. He stated “1.5%”. We elected to use Terminix credit for encapsulation service at a total cost of $8,900.00 based on Terry’s verbal statement above. We provided a down payment of $1780.00 with a remaining balance of $7120.00. He then provided a tablet for spouse, Kim **, to sign. At the time my spouse thought she was signing a receipt for the $1780.00 payment. Later we discovered it was a contract that stated the APR was 18%. At no time did Terry explain the signature request on the tablet was a contract with a 18% APR. If fact, we never received any contract from Terminix until we questioned the first statement that had a $97.90 interest charge.

It should be noted the tablet only had the signature line visible. Two other things. We are in good credit standing and had other credit lines available to us. And second, the service provided could have been delayed several months. There was no logical reason for us to sign up for such an exorbitant interest rate. I am extremely disappointed in the level of deception that the Terminix employee participated in. They clearly intended to deceive and misled during a good faith transaction. We are considering the possibility of legal recourse.”

Orkin

Otto Orkin started his small door-to-door rat poison business in 1901. Orkin then expanded into a full-fledged exterminator business. Orkin made pest control the professional service it is today. Orkin services the entire US and has a solid reputation for highly trained and capable technicians. Orkin is one of the top competitors in a very driven industry. Top 10 Reviews.com (2019) ranked Orkin #3 in Best Pest Control Services of 2019.

Pest control is more than just an industry, at Orkin pest control is an obsession. Orkin professionals are experts in pest control and prevention. All Orkin service employees attend regular ongoing industry-leading courses on state-of-the-art and effective pest control techniques and use the latest methods of effective pest control.

Orkin created the AIM (Assess, Implement, and Monitor) system. Well-trained pest control specialists service pest infestations. These specialists are responsible for:

  • Assessing the level of damage and the causes
  • Implementing effective treatment/extermination strategies
  • Monitoring to ensure that the pests are effectively and permanently exterminated

Let’s examine Orkin’s prices. Orkin (verminkill.com 2019) charges $600.00 to $1,200.00 per visit for termite treatments. Orkin’s price is slightly higher than Terminix. Keep in mind that these prices are set because detecting termite activity can be difficult. Of course, termites are easy to spot once the damage has been done due to the telltale signs that I mentioned earlier in the article.

Orkin charges $70 to $80 for all required visits following the initial application to make sure all pests are eliminated. These visits may be scheduled on a monthly or quarterly basis depending on the level of infestation. To guarantee total extermination of pests, Orkin suggests extermination service be performed for 3 to 12-months.

Orkin also offers what are called, “prevention visits.” The price for prevention visits cost from $70.00 to $80.00. Service on this level is typically performed 3-months after pests have been exterminated.

Another service Orkin provides is a house pre-purchase pest inspection. Orkin pest experts know that it is much easier to treat termite infestation before you move into your new home. Orkin’s price for a house pre-purchase pest inspection ranges from $279.00 to $350.00.

Once you have a service contract with Orkin, if a technician didn’t perform service to your satisfaction you may request an additional treatment. Per the service agreement, the additional treatment will be provided within 24 hours. Through Orkin’s online portal you will find frequently asked question (FAQs) section that provide answers to commonly asked questions. You may also contact Orkin for assistance via phone after regular business hours. If you only need to manage your account, you can do that by logging into your online account 24/7.

What Orkin customers say

Kathy from Portland, Maine (2019) happily states,

“We’ve had a terrible problem in our building for the past 16 years, since it was first built. You name the product, and we probably tried it to get rid of the ants. Last year, we interviewed three different pest control companies to see which one we want to go with to finally (hopefully) be rid of the ants. We selected Orkin, and it was one of the best decisions we’ve made!”

Christine S. of Milton, Washington (personal communication January 23, 2019) didn’t have such a great experience with Orkin.

“So, seriously…. had a termite problem that was HORRENDOUS! Had Orkin out two times, there were literally massive amounts of dead termites at the sliding glass door as they tried to escape. There was such a dense amount of them the chemical affect was overwhelming near the pile. But still they kept coming! They came out at night in droves like cockroaches.

The cost was 250$ I believe, they (Orkin) were friendly enough and came back for a second treatment, still had termites! I called and they told me to wait another few weeks….ugh! we found a local small style pest guy that had different methods, he used diatomaceous earth instead of chemicals, it cost about the same and was VERY effective.

This was a house that was owned by the company my ex bf worked for. It ended up getting torn down for commercial use. The damage was deep under the first and second floor and hard to see, it was a daylight rambler, but it was into the porch and it was pretty much decimated.”

James K. from Beaumont, Texas (5/22/2017), reports:

“Ok so first off we have tried for weeks to get someone from Terminix to come out to our house. Then after we get the appointments, they not only did not come out the first time but they also did not come out the second appointment that was made. Both times they called me had me wait outside at the time they said they would be there for them to not even show. So, after a few hours of waiting both times I then called back for them to say once again they couldn’t make it but come after a week. I then said forget it called Orkin and they came out the same day I called and have fixed my problem. Call Orkin they have not only fixed my problem the same day I called but also gave me a cell phone number to have them come out anytime I see anything else. So, if I were you I would skip the headache that is Terminix and go to Orkin.”

Bulwark Exterminating

Bart, Aaron, Adam, and Daniel Seever gave birth to Bulwark Exterminating LLC in 1999. While selling products in the pest control industry; Aaron, Adam, and Daniel learned that not all companies were doing everything right. The Seevers identified three principles on which Bulwark Exterminating LLC was founded.

  1. The customer is always right. Bulwark will do anything and everything the customer asks to make sure the job gets done right.
  2. Customers want the most effective, safest treatment possible. Bulwark has developed a system of treatment that is years ahead of the rest of the pest control industry.
  3. Seek out exceptional people who are willing to devote themselves to something bigger than themselves. Our employees can earn ownership, performance is a core value, and our employees take pride in their work.

Bulwark Exterminating takes pride as a professional pest control company to provide the highest level of customer satisfaction. The company offers a 100% guarantee on all services. Once you contract with Bulwark, you will be able to manage your account online. The company also touts specializing in products that are effective and completely harmless to people and pets. Bulwark prices are reasonable and include follow up calls to ensure that once they are treated the pests stay gone.

As with the other two competitors, Bulwark Exterminating offers free inspections to assess the severity of the termite infestation and the best course of action to eradicate your problem permanently.

All Exterminator Prices.com (2019) is an excellent source to see a condensed price list of some of Bulwark Exterminating’s services. An initial treatment costs $75. The company provides quarterly follow-up treatments at $65 per visit. Bulwark Exterminating handles all species of destructive termites. The company will tackle any termite infestation you may have for $455 to $600. For $165 you can also receive Bulwark’s preventative termite treatment.

The prices quoted above are not fixed and do not apply to every pest infestation situation as pricing may vary depending on the level of infestation, the size of your home, and the location.

What Bulwark customers say:

Donald of Raleigh, North Carolina (Dec. 3, 2018) commented,

“We hired Bulwark for our commercial property and could not be happier. On each visit, the territory manager checks to make sure if we have any questions or concerns before starting the treatment. Over the past few years, we have seen a substantial decrease in the problems we were having with the former pest control company. Great job!!!

Cindy of Salt Lake City, Utah reports (March 21, 2017),

“The service was fine until I wanted to cancel as our contract has been fulfilled. It took several phone calls to achieve this very simple cancellation. I explained to them repeatedly that I did not want the service as my son had lymphoma and I was not comfortable with the chemicals. This was not good enough. They wanted to offer me deals, I said no, so many times. I finally hung up on them. Pushy service people.”

William of Hoschton, Georgia (Oct. 30, 2018) stated:

This company knocked on my door in Hoschton, Georgia to sell pest control services. After pointing out some spiders, I paid him to spray once. He apparently changed my status to recurring and then showed up without an appointment, sprayed the outside, and then proceeded to bill me. When I called the office, they said a manager would call me back, but never did. The Past Due Notices they continue to send me don’t have a phone number on them but expect me to send $79 to Queen Creek, AZ. (Consumer Affairs 2019)

Price Comparison

Services Bulwark Exterminating Terminix Orkin
Inspection Free Free Free
Initial Treatment $75 $95 $170 to $180
Follow-up (Quarterly) Treatment $65 $89 $70 to $80
Prevention Visit N/A N/A $70 to $80
House Pre-Purchase Inspection N/A N/A $279 to $350
Termite Treatment Plan $455 to $600 per visit $640 to$1,5000 $600 to $1,200

Once you have investigated the severity of the damage those little wood-eating buggers have done, then decision time comes to select a pest control company to eliminate your termite problem, serious homework is required. Start by selecting at least three pest control companies from which you want bids. On many occasions, the decision of which company to pick is based on more than just dollars and cents. Lucky for you I have already done that for you. Now comes the time to analyze these three companies on price, services and service plans, and reputation and customer service.

Comparing prices is always an excellent place to start. Let’s say you have determined you want bids from Terminix, Orkin, and Bulwark Exterminating. The estimated prices among these three companies vary quite a bit, especially when Bulwark Exterminating is compared against Terminix or Orkin.

If price is a major factor, Bulwark Exterminating would seem to be the best choice. Terminix and Orkin are slightly higher in all pricing categories. What works in favor of Terminix and Orkin regarding price is that Terminix earned the honor of Best Pest Control Company for 2019 while Orkin is ranked #3 for 2019 (Spear 2019). Bulwark came in ranked #9. If the price were my only consideration, I would select Bulwark. Bulwark wins the price comparison. However, your decision should come down to more than just price.

Comparison of Services & Service Plans

Next, let’s look at the termite control and extermination service and plans each company offers to customers. All three companies suggest that customers first get a free termite evaluation. Also, all three companies guarantee all services. Bulwark Exterminating, Terminix, and Orkin offer personalized treatment programs that can be specialized to deal a homeowners’ termite issue. Bulwark techs, like Terminix and Orkin, let you know if liquid or bait is best, and if drilling or wall injection foaming is required. Terminix and Bulwark technicians are trained in all the leading termite pest control methods.

Specifically, Bulwark recommends “The Bulwark Barrier TM” to ensure total control. “The Bulwark Barrier TM” utilizes two to three methods simultaneously. I like the strategy of the barrier because the company is hitting the pest infestation from more than just from one angle.

Spear (2019) affirms that Terminix provides customers with pest protection and elimination services all year long. On top of that, all the pesticides used by Terminix are as eco-friendly and safe as possible, and the technicians use the least amount necessary to control the problem. Bulwark Exterminating, like Terminix,proudly uses only products that are not harmful to humans or animals.

Comparison of Customer Service

Being responsive to a customer’s needs is paramount. Customers must feel that a company adds value to the services that are offered. One example of added-value is response time to customer’s requests. All three companies report how quickly a tech will respond to a request from a customer. Bulwark commits to be onsite within 48 hours. Terminix and Orkin will send out a technician to retreat within 24 hours. The fact that Terminix and Orkin’s promised response time is 24 hours would be a major deciding factor for me.

Allowing customers 24/7 access to their account online is another value-added feature to provide to customers. All three companies have user-friendly websites that permit customers the ability not only to view and manage their account, all websites have a frequently ask questions (FAQ) section which can prove very useful.

How about customers being able to call 24/7? Unfortunately for Bulwark Exterminating customers, the company is only available via phone during regular business hours. However, Terminix and Orkin’s customers can call 24/7 to speak with a customer service rep or pest control specialist.Being able to call 24/7 would add value to me.

Comparison of Customer Reviews

Making the final decision based on customer reviews/feedback is a very logical strategy. Why you may ask? What customers say about a company is much more realistic than what might be found on the landing page on a company website.P. Williams (personal communication, June 1998) asserts, “It’s not what you say about yourself that matters, it’s what others say about you.”Hence, the importance of positive customer reviews.

Most of the problems expressed in customer reviews were merely cases of poor communication between the pest control company and the customer. Overall, I found more customers had good things to say about Terminix and Orkin’s service.

At this point based on price, services offered, and reputation, I would select either Terminix or Orkin to treat for termite infestation. Granted, all three companies provide the same services. Terminix and Orkin are highly rated by Top Ten Reviews.com (Sears 2019), #1 & #3 respectively.

Evaluation by Price, Services and Service Plans, Custom Service, and Customer Reviews

Now that we have assessed Terminix, Orkin, and Bulwark Exterminating on price, services and plans, customer service, and customer reviews we arrive at the final step – deciding on which pest control company to select.

Price – when I am evaluating bids on simply price, I always eliminate the highest and lowest bids, unless that high bidder offers a benefit that justifies the high bid. By default, I reject the lowest bid. If the middle bidder fulfills my needs, I will make my final decision taking the other areas into consideration. In the case of price, my selection is Terminix.

Services and service plans – Granted, Terminix, Orkin, and Bulwark Exterminating offer roughly the same services for termite extermination. However, Terminix and Bulwark Exterminating come out on top. Why you may ask? I like selecting companies that put an emphasis on being “green.” Terminix makes a point to emphasize that the company’s techs use eco-friendly termicides and that only enough product is applied to do the job. Being eco-friendly means that Terminix cares about the environment, and that is very important to me. I’m also intrigued by “The Bulwark Barrier TM.”Hey, I’m a guy who likes efficiency as well. “The Bulwark Barrier TM” tackles the infestation using multiple tactics. I like that. I want those termites eliminated. In the area of services and service plans, I would select Terminix or Bulwark Exterminating.

Customer service – As I stated previously, with customer service I like fast response. Terminix and Orkin promise that techs will respond to customer requests within 24 hours, while Bulwark Exterminating offers a 48-hour window.

All three companies provide customers with 24/7 access via the company’s websites. Customers can manage accounts and get questions answered through each company’s FAQ page. However, if a customer needs 24/7 access via phone only Terminix and Orkin offer that service. Bulwark only provides access via during regular business hours. In the area of customer service, I would select Terminix or Orkin.

All three companies espouse quality customer service. Terminix and Orkin are two of the most well-known businesses in the pest control industry. Spear (2019) claims, “Terminix offers customized plans, pest control, and prevention tips, and work is guaranteed, which is why we consider it one of the best pest control companies in the industry.”

Bulwark Exterminating’s culture is based on three customer service principles and empowers employees which provides employees the incentive to provide better customer service. In other words, when a Bulwark Exterminating specialist visits your home, the chances are good that your interaction and experience will be professional and pleasant. Orkin developed the AIM (assess, implement, and monitor) system. This system delineates for employee and customer the Orkin pest control process.

I can tell that customer service is vital in the culture of all three companies. In the area of customer service, I would tip my hat to Bulwark and Terminix. Bulwark has the edge because the company has mechanisms in place to empower and improve employees who will make the customer’s service experience better.

Customer Reviews – this is a slightly more difficult criterion with which to evaluate the three pest control companies. Majority of negative reviews were due to poor communication due to the pest control company. Most of those complaints were due to miscommunication by office staff and service techs. When you read the reviews, you will notice that the complaints are centered around an individual representative’s actions and not necessarily focused toward the company. Problems caused by one individual can be corrected by the company. Broad sweeping complaints are more concerning to me. Those complaints indicate to me that the poor customer service was due to a systemic problem within a particular franchise.

After evaluating the customer reviews I would tend to select Terminix or Orkin because the complaints directed toward these two companies can be corrected, and I would venture to say these complaints came from rare and specific situations -and as I said, caused by certain individuals.

Expert Recommendation

Taking all four criteria (price, services and service plans, customer service, and customer reviews), my recommendation is Terminix. The evaluation process brought me to this decision due to three primary criteria in particular; price, services and service plans, and customer service. Another reason Terminix gets my vote is that the company has been in business since 1927. To be in existence for that long, a company must be doing something right. In my opinion, the company’s prices are competitive. The services Terminix offers and the company’s concern for the customer (eco-friendly products, quick response time, and providing access online and via phone 24/7) validates the prices the company charges when compared to other companies in the industry.

Expert Recommendation

“Taking into account price, service plans, customer service, and customer reviews, and after comparing DIY options, my recommendation is that most people should hire Terminix to eliminate their termite problem. Terminix offers the best and most consistent way to get rid of termites for most people.”

terminix logo

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  25. Main Photo by Paul Green on Unsplash