Termite colonies contain many destructive pests that can cause extensive damage to wood in homes. Effective termite treatment is crucial to protect wooden structures and other structural investments from infestations.

    There are two main types of termite treatment: ground treatment and tenting (also called fumigation). The right option for you depends on the termite species and the extent of the infestation. Ground termite treatment is usually enough to get rid of termites. However, tenting is the only path forward in some cases, such as a total subterranean or Formosan termite infestation.

    I explain below how termites get into your home in the first place and what treatments work for most folks. I also touch on tenting and the differences between these two termite control methods.

    How Termites Invade Your Home

    Termites enter homes through cracks in foundations and walls. Once inside, they follow moisture to devour wood elements out of sight. Signs like tubes and frass reveal hidden infestations.

    termite invasion
    Image Credit: Canva

    Termites access homes from the soil by crawling up through cracks in the foundation. Some species, such as Formosan termites, build nests aboveground in damaged wood.

    Inside, termites follow moisture to find food. They consume cellulose materials like wood framing, flooring, trim, and furniture.

    Hidden in walls, floors, and wood elements, termites excavate galleries and tunnels. This hidden damage can severely compromise structural integrity.

    Their chewing pushes out frass—granular droppings resembling sawdust. Mud tubes along walls and foundations are also signs of infestations.

    If you suspect you are dealing with termite activity, I highly recommend scheduling a termite inspection from a well-reputed pest control company. Or, if you are the hands-on type, get started with ground termite treatments immediately.

    Get Free Pest Control Estimates
    Connect with local pest control professionals near you.

    Signs of Termites

    Termites have several tell-tale signs when they invade. Before things get out of hand and new termite colonies develop, look for the following signals:

    • Mud tubes along walls and foundations (including around decks, porches, and tree stumps)
    • Frass droppings that look like sawdust (around any wooden structures)
    • Hollowed-out wood (a clear sign that termites are targeting your structure as a food source)
    • Swarming winged termites (indicating reproductive termites and a colony nearby)

    If you notice more than one of these signs, it is time to consider professional pest management as a resolution to your termite issue. If you have trouble identifying them, check out our guide on identifying and controlling termites.

    Cost of Termite Damage

    Termite damage often requires expensive repairs, replacement of infested wood and hiring a pest control company that uses commercial-grade pesticide. Treatment costs can range from $3,000 to more than $5,000, depending on the extent of damage.  

    Preventing infestations is far more economical. If you wonder if you are dealing with termites, it’s at least time to use DIY methods such as ground termite treatments or hiring a professional to tackle your issue.

    Ground Termite Treatment

    These are injected into the soil can eliminate localized ground termite invasions. This method kills termite swarms and provides lasting protection without fumigating the entire home.

    A pest control professional may recommend liquid termiticide treatments For localized ground infestations. The technician injects insecticide into the soil around the foundation and crawl spaces.

    When termite workers, chewing their way through your home, pass through treated areas, they contact residual termiticide on their bodies. This termiticide disrupts molting and stops development.

    These allow termites to return to the nest before dying, eliminating the colony.

    Treatment involves trenching around the foundation and drilling injection points every foot. Technicians treat additional spots in interior foundation walls, around plumbing, and in crawl spaces.

    Expanding foam seals cracks where termites enter. Bait stations may supplement liquid treatments to monitor activity.

    Ground treatment prevents future invasions but doesn’t address existing colonies inside the house. For this reason, termites sometimes require tenting.

    Tenting and Fumigation

    Tenting, or fumigation, involves sealing the house with tarps and filling the enclosed space with lethal gasses, killing all termites, including nests hidden inside.

    Before tenting, technicians prep the home by removing food, medications, pets, and plants. Valuables like artwork and instruments are also removed or sealed off.

    Once tarped, vikane gas is released inside. Vikane (sulfuryl fluoride) kills termites on contact without damaging materials or leaving residue.

    Powerful fans circulate the fumigant through the house over 24–48 hours. The team then ventilates the structure so it’s safe to re-enter.

    Which Is Better for Termites: Ground Treatment or Tenting?

    There’s no definitive “better” option for defeating termites. The right treatment depends on the specific situation, such as:

    • Liquid termiticide alone may be adequate and less disruptive than tenting for localized ground infestations.
    • If there’s extensive structural damage requiring repair, tenting is usually best.
    • Exterminators prefer tenting to eradicate difficult species like Formosan or dampwood termites.
    • Sometimes exterminators recommend a combination of ground injection and spot fumigation of heavily infested areas.

    Consult a qualified local exterminator or one of the top pest control companies to determine the right treatment plan for your home if you have trouble deciding.

    FAQs About Termite Treatment

    How Long Does Termite Tenting Take?

    Termite tenting takes 24 to 48 hours to complete. Prep work takes one to three days. You’ll need another day for post-ventilation before you can have a safe re-entry. That makes for a three- to five-day stay somewhere other than your home.

    When Should You Get Termite Treatment?

    You should inquire about getting termite treatment at the first signs of infestation, such as spotting tubes or swarms. Treating termites early prevents more damage.

    How Long Does Treatment Last?

    With proper application, termite treatments of liquid barriers protect for five to 10 years. Yearly inspections check for new activity or barrier breakdowns.

    How Do You Prepare for Tenting?

    Before fumigation starts, you prepare for tending by removing all food, medications, people, pets, and plants from the house. Take out or protect valuables like artwork, electronics, and instruments. Your pest control technician can provide a prep sheet.

    Can You Stay in Your House During Tenting?

    You cannot stay in your house during a termite tenting. You must vacate during fumigation, which fills the structure with lethal gas. Expect to stay away for three to five days until cleared for safe re-entry.

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Jordan Tyler Quinn Farkas

    Jordan Tyler Quinn Farkas

    Expert Writer & Reviewer

    Jordan Tyler Quinn Farkas is a globetrotting content writer hailing from the USA. With a passion for pest control, he brings a unique perspective to his writing from his early years working for one of the largest pest control companies in America. Throughout his early 20s, Jordan gained valuable experience and knowledge in the field, tackling pest infestations head-on and ensuring the well-being of countless homes.

    Learn More

    photo of Sabrina Lopez

    Sabrina Lopez


    Sabrina Lopez is a senior editor for Today’s Homeowner with over 7 years of writing and editing experience in digital media. She has reviewed content across categories that matter to homeowners, including HVAC services, home renovations, lawn and garden care, products for the home, and insurance services. When she’s not reviewing articles to make sure they are helpful, accessible, and engaging for homeowners like herself, Sabrina enjoys spending time with her family and their two parrots.

    Learn More