Termite Control

Parent Q&A

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  • Hello!

    We have a 2 year old, and are generally environmentally conscious, so are hoping to find any termite/pest control services that offer a range of solutions that include the least toxic options available.

    Thank you so much!


    It depends on what type of termites you have. This website provides a good overview and specific suggestions. 


  • Termite Inspection

    Sep 30, 2022

    Hi - I've seen 4-5 winged insects around my under-counter kitchen lights, which I'm sure are termites.  Any recommendations for a reliable and affordable termite inspection company?  I'm not selling my house so the inspection and any extermination would need to be done while I live here.  Thanks!

    You should ask around to see if termites swarmed in your area. That might explain why you suddenly found them in your house. When termites swarm, they all swarm at once, in the tens of thousands. If they swarmed, then 4-5 is very few. Termites swarmed in my area, some ended up inside my house, I freaked out and called my local bug company, and the guy told me that during a swarm, 4-5 means they came in by accident, but hundreds in your house means they are in your walls. Also, if they are outside your light, that's fine, but if they are inside your light fixtures, it could mean they are living in your attic and fell in through your walls. I went ahead and got my house inspected anyway (it was long overdue for a pest inspection), and I used Omega Termite and Pest Control. I was advised by my local bug man not to sign any binding paperwork before the inspection--don't lock yourself into any agreement, just pay for an inspection, and then ask around for bids if you are unlucky enough to actually have termites. Fortunately, my house was fine, and the inspector told me that termites are actually quite uncommon where I live, so that was a huge relief. Good luck!

    I had Terrence from Priceless Termite Control (510) 388-7749 come out to my house for an inspection last week. As we walked around the inside and outside of my house, Terrence explained the specific signs of termite infestation he was looking for. He also came across as being professional and knowledgeable in how he answered my many questions. The price for the inspection was reasonable, and it will be applied toward the extermination or preventive treatment if it's determined necessary. Overall, a very positive experience.

    Thanks both of the responders for your helpful responses.  One last question - I called one company and was told a total inspection would be $550 and a less extensive inspection would be $395.  Does that fit within the range of what you paid?  It seems quite high to me, but I don't know.

  • Termite Exterminator

    Jan 26, 2017

    Hello, I'm looking for recommendations for termite inspection and extermination services. I'm not selling my house, so preferably someone who won't charge a fortune for inspection and will do a thorough job exterminating and repairing any damage at a large house that is occupied. 

    Thanks in advance!

    We had Aantex do this for our house last fall, they were reliable and honest, and did the best inspection of the 4 businesses we checked out. (510) 832-8329

  • Termite Control Services?

    Nov 22, 2016

    Does anyone have any recent experience with a termite control company? We just noticed signs of activity (hanging tubes) and need to get someone out here fast. Any recent recommendations appreciated. Also, if you have thoughts about what to ask to help figure out the recommended course of action we are open to suggestions. 

    Thank you, 

    I recently found termite activity in our front entryway and called a few companies to look at the situation based on yelp reviews. The first company told us it was a complicated job and gave us an estimate of $2000, which didn't include work we'd have to have done to repair some of the damage they would do (like tearing up floorboards) and the hassle of moving all of our storage items out of our crawl space. 

    The second company said they were too busy to come out and asked me to send them the estimate from the first company. They said they would just base their bid on that (I didn't do this).

    Then the third company, Hi-Tech Termite, came out. The amazingly nice estimator said we didn't have enough work to warrant paying their minimum and showed me in detail how to do the work myself (for $40), with no damage to my house. It was one of the most refreshing experiences I've had with a potential contractor in a long time. And, so far, so good. Termites gone!

    I highly recommend them (at least as far as an honest bid is concerned)!!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Exterminator for termites

Nov 2011

A contractor who repaired our furnace last week told us that he found evidence of termite infestation in our house. I would appreciate advice from anyone who has dealt with this problem recently and can recommend a reliable company that can help us confirm and resolve the problem. Robert

We love working with GenTech!!! Pat

We recently had a minor termite infection. We used Pacific Coast Termite. They will do a free inspection (assuming you aren't selling your house) that I found very thorough.

Check them out on Yelp. I agree with the favorable reviews there.

Don't believe all the ads you read about using 'Orange Oil'. Most termite infections around here aren't fixed by using Orange Oil.

He recommended using Ultraset which is only toxic to insects with exoskeletons (it also works on ants). After researching it, I felt good about using it. The workers applying it need only minimal protection.

He also recommended spraying our attic with something that sticks to wood (we recently re-roofed our house and have OSB on the rafters for the first time). I declined that since there were no termites up there and new OSB should be dry by now.

The workers who came out to apply the ultraset were efficient. --Termites (and ants) gone

Nov 2011

Hello, We just bought a house with a termite problem and we want to get rid of them as soon as possible. We would like a recommendation of an honest, reliable and most of all affordable termite specialist. Thank you for your recommendations. A

Perhaps you already know this but a termite problem usually means you have a problem with the structure of the building. Many years ago I battled this and found that working with someone that addresses the root cause was the best thing to do. I am sorry I don't remember know who it was as it was a long time ago but as you research keep that in mind. Otherwise you will waste a lot of money having the pest control people come out over and over every year. anon

May 2008

We think those are termites and carpenter ants we saw. The latest posting on exterminator is for 2005. Does anyone have any recent recommendations - good or bad? pinky

We had a great experience with Charles J. Mayer (800-861-1881). Mr. Mayer is a pleasure to deal with and his company did a great job in getting rid of our termites. I would recommend him without reservation. Ruth

Oct 2005

I checked the archives and found only one recent posting, so I am asking for recommendations for a pest control company for termites (servicing the Lamorinda area). Also, if you have recommendations or experience dealing with companies that use less toxic poisons for their extermination work, that would be welcome. Thank you.

We used Terminex a few months ago. Got bids from Orkin & Terminex and Terminex was a little cheaper. Seems to have done a fine job, although I haven't yet crawled around under the house yet to double check. For ants, we've used Employ Exterminators and have been happy with them. Not sure if he also does termites, though.

We contacted R. Bringle Structural Pest Control. (AKA RB Pest Control). After agreeing on the phone that an inspection would cost $100., the inspector charged me $200. When I got the written estimate, it came out to $23,000. Seriously. I then called Terminix, who gave me a FREE estimate and via the website I got a 10% off coupon. In the end, the cost for work came to $1200. And they came within the week for both the inspection and the abatement work. Jennie

We recently tried to contract Mitts Termite in Albany to do some siding repairs ($20K) on which they had already given us an estimate. Despite our allowing months (3) advance planning time, they were uncommunicative, did not provide one point of contact and could not commit to a start time for our job. I had to pull back the job, at great inconvenience to us, and go with another bidder. This wasted weeks of our planning schedule, pushing our start date into the beginning of busiest season. This may have been a temporary problem with them, but I wanted to let people know to nag relentlessly, or things could come to a stop unknowingly, due to the poor communications. Charles Mayer ended up doing the job and they were right on schedule and budget. Sept.-Oct. 05. Jane

Dec. 2002

We are getting estimates from several pest control companies to exterminate what seems to be a localized infestation of dry wood termites. However, each company seems to use a different pesticide. I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with this problem, with Terminix, Clark and Orkin (or other companies) and with the various pesticides such as Bora-Care, Cy-Kick, etc. and their effectiveness. Thanks! CA

There is a list of pesticides which are being phased out, including Dursban and Diazanon, which are found to be very toxic to people. Dursban (chloropyrifos) has been shown by studies to be a neurodevelopmental toxin, and a suspected hormone disruptor. In short, history shows that formerly approved pesticides are found to be more toxic than we had originally thought... Too slowly, we see pesticides being pulled off the shelves.... but often after decades worth of people having become ill from their application. There are alternatives, usually much cheaper: http:/www.birc.org http:/www.panna.org

Parents for a Safer Environment functions to educate schools and communities about alternatives to using toxic materials. Please look for future information regarding our workshop-conference in May of 2003 which will educate preschools & parents. If you'd like to get involved, please e-mail us. We could use a creative website designer, a brochure designer for our upcoming conference, a computer literate person for trouble- shooting, to start!

Borates, or boric acid applications provide a least-toxic alternative to established pest control methods. Australia and others around the world has been using this since the 1940's. Baiting termites is another alternative, often used in conjunction with borate application. Contact www.birc.org and get their publications Baiting Subterranean Termites, Vol XIX, no 10, Oct 1997 and Borates for Wood Protection, Volume XX, no 3, March 1998. You could also call the President or the non-profit, Bill Quarles at Biointegral Resource Center of Berkeley at 510- 524-2567. Bill has helped me many times, from helping me to not use 'being-phased out' toxic pesticide recommended by a termite inspector (I have a 3 yr old who would have been exposed) to elucidating why I was getting itchy rashes all over my body for months and no one else in my family was- from roof rat mites! This has been a great resource for our family. Susan JunFish

August 2002

To deal with termites in a potential home, a pest company recommended drilling multiple holes in the floor of one room and in the front porch and then shooting poison down through the holes into the ground. Not only is this very expensive and hugely inconvenient (involves ripping up carpeting, etc.), we are concerned about the negative effects of shooting poisons into the soil (we garden, have a dog and small child). Does anyone have knowledge about whether there are alternate ways to deal with the termite problem and, if not, any knowledge about the safety of the chemicals used? Someone suggested just periodically going under the house and destroying the termite tunnels, but this seems like such a huge hassle that we might eventually begin to neglect it. Alisa

If you have problems with termites, or any type of insect, I recommend the book below. It is out of print, but available in the library.
LOCATION CALL NUMBER STATUS Claremont Branch 632.9 OL4c CHECK SHELF Central Library 632.9 OL4c CHECK SHELF North Branch 632.9 OL4c CHECK SHELF

July 2002

Can anyone recommend a company to handle termites? Prompt, fairly-priced, effective? Thank you. LT

Recently I had a good experience with the Terminix Pest Control Experts. Anton Hurley came to my house and did a thorough inspection of my property which was infested with subterranean termites. The estimate from Terminix was far below that of Omega Pest Control which did the original pest inspection when I bought the house last November. I would highly recommend Terminix for your termite control needs. They were prompt and efficient and reasonably priced. Their number is 800-554-4701. You may mention my name if you wish. Lori

I just found out that the Bio-Intergral Resource Center in Berkeley, 524-2567, has a great publication on remedying Termite/rot/mold problems. We recently found out we had a small termite problem. The house inspector recommended that we use Dursban I believe its name was. This chemical has recently been shown to seep into homes even through miniscule . So either or both the Federal EPA and the State EPA has designated it for phase-out in a few years. So now you'll often see Dursban on sale everywhere. I bought the BIRC's booklet for $8 and feel that it has been priceless for helping me protect my family from unnecessary exposure to an insidious toxin. Tell Bill Quarles the president and editor that Susan JunFish who he helped with the roof rat problem referred you! I can't thank this non- profit enough for all the help they've given me from problems ranging from mysterious itching (roof rat mites), to rust on roses, to ants or spiders, and the list goes on! junfish

Termite damage repair

Nov 2005

We recently tried to contract Mitts Termite in Albany to do some siding repairs ($20K) on which they had already given us an estimate. Despite our allowing months (3) advance planning time, they were uncommunicative, did not provide one point of contact and could not commit to a start time for our job. I had to pull back the job, at great inconvenience to us, and go with another bidder. This wasted weeks of our planning schedule, pushing our start date into the beginning of busiest season. This may have been a temporary problem with them, but I wanted to let people know to nag relentlessly, or things could come to a stop unknowingly, due to the poor communications. Charles Mayer ended up doing the job and they were right on schedule and budget. Sept.-Oct. 05. Jane

Feb 2005

I would like to second the recommendation for Gen-Tech. Gen-Tech replaced the foundation on my 1926 home, as well as repaired extensive termite and dry-rot damage. The crew did an amazing job. The foundation looks great and the crew did a lot of extra work, such as reinforcing our front porch, sealing off the garage from the crawl space, and installing an access door at the back of the house. All at no extra charge! Plus the crew was wonderful to work with. They were exceptionally clean and swept our front porch every day. Our yard looks cleaner now than before they started! The crew also signed for packages for us, took out our trash when we were on vacation, and threw away some tree branches we had cut down that were too big for our trash can. I was worried about taking on the stress of such a major construction project, but everything went so smoothly. I actually even missed the crew once they were finished! Gen-Tech was a great company to work with and their bid for the job was very reasonable. They can be reached at (510) 774-8997, or on the web at www.gtinspects.com. Meredith

Termite research group looking for infested homes

Feb 2005

The laboratory of Insect Biology will be conducting research, under EPA guidelines and an Experimental Use Permit, into the use of termite baits in California. We will test the performance of a termite bait that is scheduled for release to the pest control industry for use in homes and buildings. Our lab is in need of homes in the area for this research. To participate, please answer the following questions via email to termites AT email.com:
1 How old is your home?
2 When was the last time you had your home inspected by a pest professional?
3 Was your home treated for termites at that time?
4 If treated, was it for subterranean or drywood termites?
5 Why do you believe your home or property has termites now? (Please see possible signs below).
6 Do you own this home?
7 Are you willing to sign a research confidentiality agreement? This agreement asks you not to discuss this research with persons not living at the home (besides the researchers) until the end of the study.

Looking for termites on your property:
1 Subterranean termites look like ants, theymre white to brownish, and up to :n long. They live mostly underground but they build mud tubes to go above ground to feed on wood structures.
2 Mud tubes are normally brownish in color, about :n diameter but highly variable, and take a tree-branch-like form. If you break a tube you may see termites going up and down.
3 Your home MUST have visible mud tubes built on foundations, posts, walls to participate in our study.
4 Once a year you find a large number of winged termites emerging from the ground and flying around the house.
5 Baits to control termites are installed in the ground on the periphery of the home. The area MUST be clean and easily accessible. Based on the answers above, homes will be selected for an in-depth inspection for termites by our scientists.

We look forward to hearing from you. Please contact us at the email address above if you have any additional questions. Regards, The Insect Biology Team, University of California, Berkeley

Nov 2003

The University of California at Berkeley is looking for drywood termite infested homes for research. If your home qualifies, we'll treat it for free with a low toxicity termiticide (a savings to you of several hundred or thousands dollars). We'd do a follow up of the infestation 14, 30, 90, and 180 days after treatments. Each of the follow up visits takes about 30 to 60 min, depending on the extent of the original infestation.

What to look for to determine if your home has an infestation: 1) Termites look like ants, they're white to brownish, and up to length.

2) Look for kick out holes: These are small round holes found in wood, about 1/16'' where fecal pellets are pushed out of the galleries.

3) Look for fecal pellets: small mounds of fecal pellets form near or below kick out holes (on floor or top of furniture). They're tan and look like sawdust or small grains of sand.

4) Once a year you find a large amount of winged termites flying around the house.

If you're interested and feel that your house may qualify, please contact us at termites at email.com with a short response to statements ''1'' through ''4''

Termite Inspections

Nov 2012

I'd like to have a termite inspection of our house - can anyone recommend someone? (Not an inspection for selling the house but an inspection for inspecting, if you see what I mean). Adrian

We just had a termite inspection by Pacific Coast Termite. If you aren't selling your house, they will do a free inspection.

We had a minor termite infestation (we suspected one which is why we had them come by) so we went ahead and used them for treatment. They did a good job.

They are Diamond Certified and have good reviews on Yelp.

The Orange Oil stuff you hear on the radio all the time and in the paper is only for a certain type of termite that is uncommon in this area, so don't expect that type of treatment. We ended up using Altriset which has very low toxicity to anything other than an insect with an exoskeleton (like a termite or ant).

http://www.termite.com/DuPont%20ALTRISET%20Termite%20Control%20brochure%20Jan%202011.pdf -no more termites

i do NOT recommend Mitts for inspecting. A free inspection i got from Clark's missed an infestation, but it might have only been an exterior inspection -- the exterior symptoms they were diagnosing weren't termites, and i can't remember if they looked inside.

I was happy with Kent Stonebreaker (sp?) at Structural Renewal for a comprehensive structural pest inspection (real estate). pricy though. charles mayer also has a good reputation locally. again pricy. however, knowledge and trustworthiness are important! charles mayer knows when weather conditions require postponing treatment, something chains that do free inspections such as terminex, clarks don't seem to mention so i worry they may sometimes just do less effective treatment.

fiprinol-based treatment, whole perimeter, inside and out, no skipping over the difficult to access spots, seems to be the way to go if there is an infestation with the typical termite species found in berkeley. if you've had pets with fleas, and successfully treated them, you've probably already used the same chemical. anon

Aug 2009

Can anyone recommend a home inspector who can identify termites or other pests, dry rot and other problems that can develop in a home? I heard it is a good idea to have your home inspected every few years. I am not aware of any problems, but I want to take good care of my home. I would like someone who would be patient enough to point out to me what work needs to be done. We have no postings for this type of inspection on the digest. Judy

We recently used Planet Orange and I highly recommend them. They are honest and do not try to drum up biz just to make money. They are thorough as well and the estimate for any work they do is free, Susan

I would like to recommend Gen-Tech in Oakland. I recently put my house on the market and Dan came by and did the pest inspection. He was extremely thorough (he found stuff I had totally forgotten about that was not easily visible) and he walked me through the whole thing. There are certain things that they do not cover and I can't exactly remember what it is....something about the garage maybe or the garage roof.......I can't exactly remember what it was but he noted it on his report with a sidebar to contact a different expert. The inspection takes about 2 hours. It cost $200 and you get a written report along with a price quote per line item if you want them to do the work. Also, you don't have to do everything on the report. We have dry rot under our stairs. To completely fix it, it would cost about $4,000, but it is not undermining the integrity of the structure at this time and is certainly not an emergency. It is his duty to point out everything, but not everything may be in need of repair at this very second. Make sure you ask him what his priorities to fix would be. good Luck

East Bay Structural and Termite is great. 510-652-4712 We bought our house a little over 1 year ago and they did the termite inspection for the previous owners and we had them to the work. It was just wood rot, luckily no termites, and East Bay Structural was wonderful. Very professional and did a great job. It turned out that there was a small section of work that was on the orginal inspection that we both missed. I called them 8 months later and they did the work, no additional charge, even though so much time had passed. They were very gracious and apologetic about missing it. I recently called them to do a small job on some new wood rot I discovered and they said they could do the job, but since it was so small they suggested I hire a handy man because it would cost me less! What company makes those type of recommendations now? They are honest and trustworthy and really do great work. R

I recommend a termite inspection be done separately from a general home inspection. Reasons why include that termite inspectors (who also look for wood destroying organisms such as fungal decay aka dryrot) are also contractors who can offer a bid for the repair. General Home Inspectors should not offer bids or be directly or fiscally associated with companies that performs repairs on homes that they have inspected. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the California Business and Professional codes have deemed this a bad and unfair practice. Home Inspectors are more like generalist and though they may be able to identify dryrot or termite infestation, they are not allowed in the state of California to mention those items. I understand that the good looking and charming inspectors may use the term ''Moisture-related damage'', and also refer such observations be further evaluated by the structural pest control companies.

Fortunately there are several good pest inspectors and home inspectors in the area. I have enjoyed observing the performance of local companies such as gen tech (www.gtinspects.com), East Bay Structural, and Structural Renewal. I can't forget Robert Sibley from Fisk. My favorite Home Inspector is Jay Marlette but since Jay is the author of this response (www.houseman.org) you could find more non-bias choices at ASHI.COM and review any service provider on Yelp.com where non-bias consumer reviews can be found. Remember to use only ASHI inspectors. There is no licensing for home inspectors in California but ASHI inspectors have the most stringent requirements for membership. About 30 of the 50 states that do require licensing often model their licensing requirements by ASHI membership standards. There are other official sounding associations but not all are ''above water''. Good luck and keep your building envelope water tight. Jay

Matt Cantor is a home inspector and much more. He will give you excellent advice including pointing you in the right direction if necessary (termite work is very specific). He's a treasure - knowledgeable and trustworthy. (You can read his humorous and helpful column in the Berkeley Daily Planet too.) He's at 510-524-9780 www.cantorinspections.com mgcantor [at] pacbell.net

Nov 2005

I would like to warn against using R. Bringle Structural Pest Control. (AKA RB Pest Control). After agreeing on the phone that an inspection would cost $100., the inspector charged me $200. When I got the written estimate, it came out to $23,000. Seriously. I then called Terminix, who gave me a FREE estimate and via the website I got a 10% off coupon. In the end, the cost for work came to $1200. And they came within the week for both the inspection and the abatement work. Jennie

Sept. 2001

I would like to know if anyone has had experience with East Bay Structural doing termite and dry rot work done on their house We are planning to have our termite and dry rot work done by East Bay Structural in October. The company was recommended by a neighbor who is a real estate agent and its estimate is much lower than either of the two other companies we talked with.

Hi -- I just want to CAUTION you on using a termite/dry rot reference given by real estate agents! We bought our house in '97 and had a termite inspection done by the agent's recommendation. We were given a fairly clean bill with some minor termite damage noted. We paid for the area to be treated and were then told the house was fine. This year, in May or so, we were remodeling our front entryway -- adding new tile, other renovations, then lastly, a beautiful new front door. When the contractor pulled the old door out, the first thing I heard was , Uh oh! There were live termites everywhere. This is about 20' from the original site. We got 3 estimates for the work, the first 2 guys didn't even go into the crawlspace to investigate under the house!! You will pay by the inspection for each company, but I guarantee you -- it's worth the money to find a reputable company! I did extensive research on what should be done in an inspection, etc ...Finally, I called a professor at UC Berkeley (wish I could remember his name but it will come to me!) and asked him a lot of questions. He recommended a few places to me, off the record. I will tell you that Live Oak Structural (I beleive that's the name) in your area/maybe Albany? was highly recommended, but they don't come out to Pleasant Hill. We used and were quite happy with the work done by Charles Mayer as well. I would be happy to talk to you about this as I have talked to other people with other disastrous termite troubles because of the termite/dry rot companies. Some real estate agents promise these companies all of their referrals if they will look the other way or make termite troubles appear smaller than they really are so the home sale will go through. Feel free to call me (925-937-5164)! Trish

Editor's Note: Just fyi, there are different types of pest control (termite) inspections. A common inspection will cover all of the areas that can be seen without drilling to look inside walls or pulling away walls or flooring. This is called an inspection of accessible areas. Any inspection of INaccessible areas must be authorized, that is, either requested by the buyer of the home as part of the purchase contract, or by the home owner.

Thus, it is possible to get certification that the accessible areas are clear of pests and wood-destroying organisms, yet find termites or other problems once you get into areas that weren't part of the original inspection. You should look at your first report to determine whether inspection of inaccessible areas was authorized. It probably wasn't.

Many home sellers do not authorize the inspection of inaccessible areas because it entails drilling holes around the house. These holes are unsightly and may make it more difficult to sell the house, and attempts at matching paint and so forth can be difficult.

Homeowners, it is wise to get certification of all inaccessible areas just prior to having a paint job. That way, once the house is deemed free and clear of pests and wood destroying organisms, you can get the drill holes filled and there won't be any problem with matching the paint that covers the holes. Also, consider getting a reinspection of all visible areas every two years. That way, problems can be caught when they're fresh and inexpensive to fix.

Some rules we have learned during the course of buying three houses and selling four houses:

1. Pest inspectors can weasel out of anything, their contracts have so many disclaimers/exclusions. Remember that pest inspectors only inspect the visible areas - and that means areas they can see without climbing a ladder, not just inaccessible areas. The pest inspectors I have hired/seen don't even carry ladders with them.

2. Never trust a pest inspection commissioned by the seller. There are pest inspectors who are known to have bad eyes, and will give a favorable pest report to almost anything. Generally, the buyers agents know who these people are and recommend them to the buyer.

3. Corollary to 2: If you are buying, always hire your own pest inspector. I have a recommendation for the most wonderful pest inspectors (for the buyers). The Henshers in Fairfield California (a husband/wife team). Phone number 707-426-3834. They used to work as pest inspectors in the Bay Area, but are now working mostly in the Fairfield/Vacaville area, although they will come to the Bay Area if you ask nicely. They have eagle eyes, they won't sugar-coat it for you, and they give sellers a big stomach ache. Going thru a house with them is a grueling experience, but it's about the best money I've ever spent (twice!). -Julie

March 2000

After being totally and completely screwed over by Terminix, we are looking for another company to spray under our house for wood-boring beetles. I'd appreciate any recommendations for (or warnings against) companies that would perform this service in North Berkeley. Mimi

Subject: termite work - who NOT to use U-Save in Oakland did terrible work in our house before my husband and I bought it 9 years ago. Don't use them. HC

re pest control: a few years ago I used Clark Pest Control and was very impressed with their work and their attitude. My contact was a fellow named Marty Meyers. Don't know if he's still there. The phone I have for them is 800 827 7285 Linda

We used Rick Bringle and his family. They did a ton of work on our Albany house before we moved in. We had to have the seismic work done before we could get insured, but couldn't have the seismic done without the pest work tended to. So, they did both. What I liked about them was how they worked like hell to get the work done before we moved in, how their prices were reasonable and they were very accommodating in negotiating a fair price, how they were family run and had that particular pride of craftsmanship as a result, how they communicated very openly about what they were doing and why (and when they would be done, and why!) and, last but not least, how they were so warm and kind. (My father was living for weeks in our unfurnished, run-down house and the workers went up on the roof to set up the antenna so he would get better tv reception!) They cleaned up all kinds of old wood and garbage the day after they finished, doing a very thorough clean up. (We had a heating company not do this step, and it underscored how nicely Rick's group follows through to the very end and how important that is.) I also liked that Rick Bringle came by himself quite a bit, as well as assigning a capable manager for daily operations. My father and I especially liked one of the workers, too, so the whole group was special. In addition, Rick's dad came by to do the final spray, and talked with my family and gave some sound advice. In sum: I would describe this group as good people. Lynn

Termite fumigation at pre-school

Feb 2004

Does anyone out there have any experience with Vikane gas and children? Our pre-school co-op has termites and we are trying to get as much information about Vikane safety, duration of school closure, post- treatment clean up and possible health risks to our kids. We are thinking of closing the school for the summer to eliminate risk of exposure. Will 2 months be long enough? Any info will be appreciated.

We had to have our house fumigated when I was 8 months pregnant, so I looked into this, and closing the school for more than the recommended one or two days seems excessive to me. Vikane is sulfuryl fluoride, which is a gas with a low boiling point (it is a gas at -67F or higher). It will dissipate very quickly once the tent is removed, and does not leave any toxic residues. So you can leave food in the school and it will be fine. Just open all the windows up, and air everything out with a fan. You will need to remove any living beings, including plants, or they will be killed during the fumigation. If you are really concerned, schedule the fumigation for a Monday, and stay closed for the rest of that week. But the fumigation company won't let you in if there is any trace of gas in the air, and once the gas is gone, there is no other risk. Vikane has been in use for 40 years, and there don't seem to be any reports of health problems, except reports of fluorosis (excess fluoride in the body) in exterminators who handled it incorrectly. Barbara

I didn't see the original question, but I wanted to point out that Vikane (sulfuryl fluoride) is not a harmless gas. It is volatile and dissipates, but is actually quite toxic if exposure occurs. Since this is a building occupied by young children who are more susceptible to injury due to toxins, it is right to enquire about harmful effects and to insist that adequate ventilation is carried out. The small number of illness reported is not necessarily an indicator of the compound's safety. Much of the material available is put out by the manufacturer and can overstate the compound's safety. The label requirements for ventilation are not exactly based on rigourous science--each structure is different and windows are required to remain open during ventilation.

The applicators are required to document that levels are ''safe'' but are not required to measure every habitable area of the building. Because it has no odor, typically, a tear-gas type pesticide, chloropicrin, is added as a warning agent. Before the application, you can try to ensure that levels will be measured in every single room that people may occupy. If the documented levels have been measured accurately and nothing is detectable, you are ok--no residual pesticide will remain. Keeping children out longer is a personal decision. Rupa