Termites are notorious for their ability to infest and damage wooden structures. For the prevention of this infestation and destruction, there are many ways to protect your home from termites. The most common forms of prevention are physical and chemical barriers.
First, it is important to understand termites in order to understand how these barriers work. Termites are extremely social insects that have strictly defined caste structures in large colonies. Like bees and ants, termites use this swarm intelligence to exploit their environments as a group in ways that a single termite simply could not. The most common caste of termite is the worker termite. These termites are responsible for gathering food and feeding the soldiers and reproductive members of the colony. They are usually confined to damp, dark places, and are blind, unhardened and colorless as a result. They spend their time exploring their environment searching for food sources. Once a source is found, the workers harvest it for the entire colony. This kind of exploration is also how colonies are built, since workers are also responsible for constructing nests and structures of colonies. Once a suitable environment is found, termites build a colony to house the reproductive members of the colony.
With this kind of hierarchy in mind, it is clear how a barrier that protects your house can prevent termite damage and infestation. Since wood is a food source for termites, keeping them away from it is essential to prevent worker termites from harvesting the wood in your home or finding a suitable location for their colony in your home.
Chemical Termite Barriers
Insecticides have been used to create a barrier by treating the soil around a home. This treatment is toxic to termites and kills any that get too close. These solutions are called termiticides.
Physical Termite Barriers
Physical barrier solutions are more commonly referred to as termite barriers, and protect specific vulnerable areas of your home. There are three general materials used for these termite barriers.
First a metal screen termite barrier can be installed before homes are built. They are much like other insect screens, in that they are designed to be impenetrable by termite mandibles and too fine for a termite to push through.
Another effective material is sand. A sand termite barrier is a layer of sand that is composed of granules specifically ground and sized to frustrate termites. The sand particles are shaped in such a way that they cannot be grabbed, moved aside or passed through. As simple as it sounds, a sand barrier can be a very effective termite deterrent.
Plastic termite barriers can be installed, and most have a termiticide sandwiched between layers of plastic.
Physical termite barriers are most effective when installed before or early in the construction process to ensure the best protection. They do not offer the best after-the-fact solution, and therefore must often be supplemented with other kinds of termite control methods.