Q: Why worry about termites?

A: Termites cause billions of pesos in damage each year. These wood-destroying pests feed on cellulose present in wood, paper, books, insulation, clothes, carpets, swimming pool liners and filtration systems. Termites can even injure live trees and shrubs, although they usually attack sick or dying trees and shrubs.

More than the monetary impact, the thought of your investments-- be it business or your home-- being feasted upon by thousands of termites can be particularly traumatizing. The possible loss of precious heirlooms, irreplaceable antique furniture and other memorabilia being permanently lost to hungry termites is another important reason to protect your homes and your investments.

Q: How do I know if my home is infested with termites?

A: There are several indicators of a termite infestation:
  1. Termite swarms or gamu-gamo

    • If you see gamu-gamo or alates swarming in your property, chances are there is a termite colony present nearby. Swarming is part of the termite reproductive cycle, when adolescent termites seek to start their own colony. Often occurring during the summer months of April and May, swarms are often seen as more of a nuisance than a threat since they don't leave any permanent structural damage. One should bear in mind, however, that it only takes one pair of termite alates to start a whole new colony.

      Though you might not see actual swarms, the presence of gamu-gamo or alate wings near window sills, doors, heating vents, bathtubs and sinks are also indicators that swarming had occurred.
  2. Mud "tubes"

    • Termites need constant moisture and don't roam around out in the open. Instead, they travel through tunnels made in wood or through mud "tubes". Usually the width of a pencil, these tubes are found on foundation walls, floor joists, floor systems and can even be found protruding from cracks between boards and beams.

      An empty tube doesn't necessarily mean that termites are gone. Rather it may be that have simply abandoned this particular tunnel. Termites often rebuild damaged tubes, which is another indication of current activity. 'Old' tubes are dry and crumble easily, leaving marks on the surface of walls that may be visible for years, which is an indication that a house had termite activity at some time.

      Tubes that are found on ceilings or on the second floor of structures may indicate that you have a "secondary" or aboveground ("aerial") infestation. This means that it is likely that the termite colony actually lives in the building and the termites are traveling up from the soil. Mud tubes built by an aboveground colony usually contain materials other than soil such as wood and sheet rock or whatever the termites are feeding on. Secondary infestations occur when there is a serious moisture problem or leak somewhere within the structure. In situation such as these, a more thorough inspection may require the removal of siding or interior wallboards. More importantly, secondary infestations cannot be controlled with the usual soil treatment. Finding and correcting the moisture problem is the first step to eliminating this type of infestation.

  3. Damaged wood

    • Try to observe the presence of damaged wood. However, since termites eat wood from the inside out, damaged wood could be a bit tricky to find. Break open hollow-sounding wall studs, baseboards and floors. If you find a honeycombed pattern inside the wood, then you can be certain of an existing infestation. Another indication are bulging walls. This happens because termites pack soil in their excavations, which would tend to distend the walls.

  4. Live termites

    • If you observe live termites in your property then you can be certain of an infestation.

Q: My next-door neighbor has termites and is going to have his house treated. Will termites start transferring to my property?

A: Termites aren't choosy about what they eat and where. Since they are on a constant search for food, even if they have an existing food source, chances are they might see your property as their next buffet. Even if your home shows no signs of a termite infestation, it is highly advisable to have it inspected nonetheless.

Q: What are the differences between ants and termites?

A: While both pests live in colonies, ants and termites are two very different creatures.

Physically, during their alate phase, termite wings are uniform in size whereas ant wings have noticeably larger wings in the front when compared to hind pair. Ant wings also do not break easily in contrast to termite wings that break off at the slightest touch.

Also, termites have almost straight antennae while the ants' antennae are elbowed. Ants appear distinctly segmented, because of their thin-waisted appearance while termites have a broad-waisted appearance because their bodies are straight-sided with no constriction.

Q: Why worry about rats and mice?

A: Historically, rodents have been known to carry diseases that are harmful to both animal and human populations, such as leptospirosis. Rats also damage property by chewing on electric wiring, which could cause a fire. By chewing on roof shingles, pipes, and fascia boards, rats could also cause leaks and structural damage.

Q: What's the difference between rats and mice?

A: Physically, rats are larger and heavier than mice and possess long, thick, heavy tails. A mouse is much smaller than a rat, about half the size of its rodent cousin. Their tails are very thin, making them barely perceptible as compared to the much wider and longer rat tail.

Rats' ears tend to be smaller in proportion to their heads, with more blunt features than their distant relatives. Mice generally have delicate features and pointier faces.

Q: Why worry about ants?

A: While generally considered a nuisance more than a pest, ants can contaminate food and cause damage to fiber and fabric.

Q: Why worry about cockroaches?

A: Cockroaches are notoriously difficult to kill: they can go days without food, they can survive a nuclear holocaust, and they can even survive without a head (until they starve to death)!

As pests, they are known carriers of pathogens that spread illness not to mention allergies to humans. The presence of cockroaches in a restaurant is especially troubling, signaling unsanitary conditions where food was prepared for public consumption.

Q: Why worry about mosquitoes?

A: The most significant threat of mosquitoes is the fact that they can infect people with Dengue fever, which is life-threatening if left untreated. Signs and symptoms of Dengue fever include:

Q: How do I prevent dengue?

A: The best way is to clean your surroundings. Take away any stagnant water and regularly wear insect repellent. Dengue mosquitoes usually come out in the morning, between 6 to 8 am and in the afternoon at 4 to 6 pm. It's highly suggested that you schedule fogging of your property at around this time.

Q: Why worry about flies?

A: Flies feed by spitting out their saliva on food, predigesting it. They then suck the food in. Able to travel long distances, flies are known carriers of pathogens such as typhoid, salmonella, cholera, tuberculosis, and E. choli. The presence of flies in restaurants or food-related industries is problematic because flies can contaminate food with bacteria they carry, rendering food dangerous for human consumption.

Q: Why worry about ticks?

A: Ticks are often found in woody areas and are known carriers of Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Q: Why worry about fleas?

A: These parasitic blood suckers feed on their host, often causing swelling and itching. Fleas can also carry eggs for tapeworm, infecting both pests and young children. Excessive flea bites can lead to anemia for your pets and in very rare cases, the bubonic plague!

Q: Why should I hire a professional pest control operator when I can do it myself?

A: Would you ask a plumber to perform heart surgery? While we don't discourage DIY pest control, we highly suggest that you leave pest control to people who have training and experience.

The key to an effective pest control program is the correct identification of the insect species infesting the property. By knowing what we are dealing with, we are more equipped to develop the most effective course of treatment, while taking the insect's biology and habits into account. Furthermore, pest control experts have specialized equipment access to regulated chemicals that enable them to treat pest problems more efficiently, and would probably save you money in the long run.

However, if you do choose to handle your pest problem yourself, be sure to research on the limited chemicals available.

Q: How safe are pesticides used by professionals and homeowners?

A: Generally, if pesticides are handled and applied following instructions indicated on the label, they do not present a risk to people or the environment. Pest control professionals have Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) on the pesticides that they use and these can be requested by the client to assure them of the safety standards for each chemical used during treatment.

Q: How long will it take to rid my home of the pests?

A: This will depend on the severity of the pest problem as well as the type of treatment needed. Since no two situations are the same, TOPBEST experts diagnose the problem and implement the best solution possible, while closely monitoring the efficacy of the pest control program.

Q: How long does a termite inspection take?

A: This usually takes less than an hour, depending on the size of your property. TOPBEST's skilled and experienced technicians will check the entire house thoroughly, from foundation to roof.

Q: How long before you can stop our termite problem?

A: That will depend on the degree of termite infestation, the kind of species and the type of treatment that you have chosen. Usually a mild infestation can be eliminated in as short as one week to a month. However, a heavier infestation can take as long between two months to eight months to control.

Q: Is it safe to stay in my premises while you spray?

A: Yes. Although, we do recommend that you vacate your premises while the treatment is being carried out to be safe. We also recommend that you ventilate rooms thoroughly after completion for 3 hours before settling back in.

Q: Will I have to leave the house during inspections?

A: No, you won't. In fact, we recommend that you have you or someone from your household present during inspection.

Q: Are your pest control methods safe for my children and pets?

A: Yes, they are. TOPBEST experts carefully assess the situation in your property and make sure to inform homeowners before performing any pest control treatment. We use the safest, most modern materials available in the market to ensure the safety to you, your family, pets, and the environment.

However, we do request that pregnant women and children below 4 years be absent during actual treatment as well as for 4 hours afterwards as an added precaution. Pets should also be kept at a distance during the treatment as an added safety measure.