Is it difficult to get rid of termites?
Normally the answer is YES!
But do not fear, in this article we’ll share industry secrets on how to deal with termites in a variety of situations.
Whether they be in your yard or your home, we’ve got you covered. So lets get into it…
Subterranean and Drywood Termites
The first thing to understand when dealing with termites is that there are different kinds of termites. While there are actually many species of these insects, there are two (or three) that are known for causing damage to homes.
These are subterranean termites and drywood termites. Formosan termites are also often mentioned as another kind of termites, but they are actually a type of subterranean termites.
As you might guess, subterranean termites travel underground. They are the ones that cause most damage, and they are notoriously difficult to get rid of completely.
Drywood termites, on the other hand, usually travel by air and they don’t need contact with the ground.
The way you deal with termites will depend on which of these two kinds you are dealing with.
#1 Getting Rid of Subterranean Termites
Baiting Systems / Termite Stakes
Termite stakes, also known as baiting systems (although there are different kinds of baiting systems) are one of the most popular solutions for dealing with termites.
So how does that work? Basically, you can buy stakes (also called termite tubes cause that’s what they essentially are) that you stick underground. These are filled with bait that attracts termites and chemicals that kill them.
If the treatment works, these baiting systems should kill the whole colony over time. The chemical used inside of those is usually hexaflumuron. It actually does not kill termites straight away but stunts their growth instead.
This means that mature termites will not be killed, but they will eventually die overtime and their offspring will not be able to grow. These systems tend to be effective if used properly, but the process can take a couple of years.
Barrier systems use liquid termicide. These formulas are designed to disrupt the termite’s nervous system, but they also don’t kill them right away. In this way, the poison is spread from one termite to any others that come in contact with it.
The most popular termite barrier products include Termidor and Taurus SC both of which use the active ingredient fipronil, Premise (uses imidacloprid), and Altriset (uses chlorantraniliprole).
The key behind these chemicals is that they are what is called ‘non-repellent’. This means that the termites don’t smell them. In fact, they don’t even notice the liquid which makes it possible to spread it effectively within the colony.
The treatment is usually injected into the ground around the whole perimeter of the home, and might require some drilling to be done too.
The process of getting rid of termites this way could still take a couple of months, but it’s definitely faster than baiting systems. However, it also involves large quantities of synthetic insecticide and that’s something not everyone wants in their garden.
Can I Get Rid of Subterranean Termites Without Pesticides?
Is it possible to get rid of subterranean termites without using liquid barriers or baits with pesticide? Well, it’s definitely possible. Killing individual termites is not that difficult.
For starters, exposing subterranean termites to sunlight will kill them. Another way to get rid of these pests is to drown them by flooding the area with water. Another thing you can try is borax, which you can find in the foam of ready-made pastes, foams, or gels, or make your own.
The problem with all these solutions is that they are fairly temporary and will most likely not destroy the whole colony. Subterranean termites are known for digging extensive networks of underground tunnels, so you should always be cautious when applying these DIY treatments.
#2 Getting Rid of Drywood Termites
Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites do not cover underground. They usually infest localized wooden surfaces. Although they can spread quite a bit, it is usually possible to localize the infestation and apply a treatment. Luckily, the treatment does not have to be overly toxic for humans or the environment.
Borax (or other borates, including boric acid) is one of the best and easiest solutions for dealing with drywood termites. Various borax termite treatments can be bought ready-made, but you can easily make your own too. Borax disturbs the digestive and nervous system of termites and eventually kills them.
The thing to remember is that borax does not kill termites on contact. They need to actually ingest it. Luckily, it’s not very hard to get them to do so.
Borax spray is one easy solution. To do this, all you need to do is mix one teaspoon of borax with one cup of warm water (multiply the recipe as needed). Stir the mixture until the borax dissolves. Put in a spray bottle and soak all the wood that you suspect is infested with termites thoroughly.
Soaking the wood is key. Since termites feed on wood, they will ingest the borax this way which will destroy them
Repeat the process each day every couple of days until you see no signs of termites anymore. You might want to spray again a couple of days later just to be safe.
Many of those who like DIY natural solutions know that vinegar can do lots of things in your home. But did you know it can also help you get rid of drywood termites?
The process is essentially the same as with borax. However, this time your spray will be made with pure vinegar and optionally the juice of two lemons to make it stronger. You’ll want to soak the wood with the spray and the acidity will kill the termites.
It is often the case that nature gives us the solution to everything if we know where to look. That’s also the case with termites. Certain essential oils can actually be really effective when fighting termites.
According to recent research, vetiver oil is the most effective oil for getting rid of termites. Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides) is a type of bush common in India, but this oil might not be so easy to find.
The reason why vetiver oil was deemed most effective is because it had the most long-lasting repellent effect. However, clove oil which is commonly available pretty much everywhere was found to be most effective at killing termites.
Other oils effective against termites include tea tree, orange, cedarwood and garlic.
So how to use essential oils to get rid of termites? If you already have termites, mix a couple of drops of the oil you have chosen with water. You can experiment with the strength of the solution because different oils you can buy also differ in strength.
You can put this essential oil in a spray bottle and spray on the wood infested with termites. If possible, you could also drill holes in the wood and inject the oil mix into them.
Always repeat this process for a couple of days since essential oils evaporate quickly.
Orange oil can also be used for fumigation, but this is hard to yourself.
Termites are also incredibly sensitive to heat. All it takes is a temperature above 140 degrees Fahrenheit and they will all die. Freezing can be just as effective.
With smaller pieces of furniture infested with drywood termites, this might be easy to do. However, it can be difficult for larger spaces. For this treatment to be effective, everything needs to be heated up and one must keep in mind that the termites can crawl into the most hidden spaces.
#3 Prevention: Catch Them on Time!
The main thing that makes termites worse than most other pests is the fact that they can do a lot of damage to your home. Catching them early makes it much easier to deal with the problem. And in any case, the first step in getting rid of termites is determining whether you are dealing with termites or something else.
Therefore, if you live in an area where termites are common, you definitely need to check for early signs on a regular basis. When it comes to termite inspections there are essentially two routes you can choose from: DIY or hire a professional.
The truth is, termites do usually leave signs you can discover. But they are not so obvious that you should expect you will notice them immediately. You have to be informed and know what to look for.
Telltale signs of termites
Some species of termites (subterranean termites in particular) will build mud tubes. This is the most obvious sign of a termite infestation.
Mud tubes can usually be found on external walls and they look just like what you might imagine – tiny tunnels termites build from mud and droppings to protect their colony as they explore a new path. They simply look like long patches of mud on your walls.
Once you find termite mud tubes you might as well knock them down, but keep in mind that regardless of whether you see any termites, there might be an infestation in your home.
Wood is the main food for termites so this is another obvious place to look. You need to check all wood surfaces inside your home.
Sometimes, you might be able to see tunnels termites have burrowed in the wood. Other times, you might find small unexplained biles of what looks like sawdust. Additionally, you can tap on the wood and if you hear a hollow sound it could be a sign of termites.
Termite Droppings or Frass
Termite droppings often look like tiny pellets. The actual appearance of the droppings will depend on the species of termite and what they have been feeding on, but any unexplained piles of mysterious crumbly material close to sources of cellulose are a reason to worry.
As you can see, it’s entirely possible to find termites, but it’s not always easy. If you are not prepared to take this responsibility to yourself, you might opt for an annual inspection. You can read more about that here.
For more about termites and termite control check out the links below:
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