Last updates August 6th, 2017: Out of the umpteen insects, critters, rodents and other pests, termites seem to be the most dangerous ones. They are one such pest that can ruin your house’s foundation in just a few years. The worst part is that they are not even noticeable in the first few years. This means that they don’t come with a warning. It can be too late once you realize that your house has been infested by termites.
Your home is precious and in no way you can take a chance to re-invest because of the mere pest. It becomes crucial that you take steps and precautions to protect your home from termites.
Before we directly dive into the ways to control the termite, we should have some knowledge about the termites.
Types of Termites
Subterranean termites live in the soil and build one of the largest nests. They are connected via trees and structural timbers in houses. These termites are found highly in the U.S. and are considered one of the most destructive species. They destroy woods and home at a fast pace.
They belong to the families Kalotermitidae and Hodotermitidae. These species are mostly found in woods that has high moisture content. These termites are seldom found in homes. This is because homes have wood that do not have moisture content in it. They also do not require contact with the soil and are mostly found in damp woods.
They belong to the family Kalotermitidae and are typically found in wood, hardwood floors and timber. They do not require contact with the soil. These species are responsible for damage to homes. Drywood termites cause damage at a slower as compared to the subterranean termites.
Hence, it is seen that the subterranean termites does more damage as compared to other termites and require different treatment methods.
Signs of Termites
How will you know that your house has been attacked by termites? You need to be proactive about preventing your home from termites. Here are few signs that will help you know that termites have infested your home.
If your home is mostly made out of wood then beware. Wood damage is usually found behind and below surfaces like floors and walls. Most of the houses have wooden floors and it is crucial that you take a look at your floors or other wooden structures once a week to know if there is any damage caused.
As you know that termites basically damage the woods, they chew it in search of cellulose. As years pass by, the wood weakens and creates structural damage.
Always look below the surface of the wood. If you are doubtful then take the help of the specialist as they have proper tools to test termite damage.
Termites have wings. You may find discarded wings near windows, door or other home access points. When termites find the right place to dig through the wood, they twist their wings off as they know that they won’t need the wings again.
Termite wings are of the same size unlike ant wings. Take a closer look at every corner of your house. If you find wings then an immediate action needs to be taken.
Mud-tubes can be found near trees or sheds or where the ground connects your house. As you know, termites require certain temperature to survive. They will thrive at places where there is moisture content. The tubes or tunnels they make blocks cool or dry air to retain enough moisture.
You may remove a section of the tube to see if any termites crawl out. Termites can be fast in rebuilding their new nest. Action needs to be taken before they destroy your house.
Flashlight and Screwdriver
You need to go to the basement of any part of your house to check the hollowness of your wood. Woods are not hollow until it is eaten up from inside. You need to push the wood with the screwdriver and test for its strength. If the wood falls out easily it is a sign of termite problem.
Brown Pellets of Eexcrement
Take your flashlight and look for termite excrement. Termite droppings may be dark brown pellets or wood coloured. These droppings are found near weakened wood that indicates termite infestation.
What Kills Termites?
There are many things that kill termites. There are certain chemicals that can immediately kill the termite population of a particular colony. However, there may be restrictions on using certain chemicals in your locality. It might be against the law. A licenced professional can do this job for you. You need to be careful before using the chemical treatments.
This chemical gives immediate results. It is a natural insecticide that remains effective for a longer period of time. It is not only effective for termites but also for ants, ticks, wasps, bagworms, ground beetles, etc. It is one of the favourite chemicals of the homeowners and professionals.
This is again an effective chemical to wash off termites. If one termite comes in contact with arsenic dust then probably other termites of the same colony will become a prey. Arsenic dust is of cannibalistic nature. This means that the chemical will be transmitted from the dead termites to other insects who feed on them.
Keep the Wood Maintained That Doesn’t Catch Damp
Damp wood can be the biggest cause of termite infestation. Termites require an environment that has the right temperature and humidity level. Always check if your wooden floor and doors to avoid termite attack. Dry wood will usually not have termite infestation.
Low temperature will terminate termites from your house. Low temperature would mean-20 degree Fahrenheit. You would need liquid nitrogen to bring the down the temperature.
Flooding Kills Termites
Simply drown the termites to get rid of them. If you have a garden and you see small mud-tubes created then dig through it and flood that area. In this way you can naturally get rid of them.
If there is not enough sunlight penetrating your home then it is likely that termites will destroy your house. Sunlight plays an important role in killing the termites naturally. Do not keep the windows close during the daytime. Let enough sunlight come in.
Salt kills termites- Salt can be an effective and natural method to kill termites. You just have to fill a jar with equal part of salt and warm water. Yes, it should be very salty. Take a syringe and fill in with salty water. Inject it into all the affected areas. Termites will die out of dehydration.
How to Kill Termites?
There are innumerable ways to kill termites. You may either get the things from the local market or make your own DIY solutions. Here are some top ways to kill termites. Different termites will require different treatments.
Killing Drywood Termite
- Electrocution: This may sound weird, but this is one of the most effective methods of eradication termites. It is not necessary to drill holes but if you do so it will be more effective.
- Orange oil: Orange oil is simply the extract from the orange peel. It is not soluble in water. You should be very careful in handling this oil as it is dangerous for humans. If you intake the oil by mistake you may suffer from stomach problems. Also, it will irritate your skin or eyes. Orange oil is used to treat a variety of insects by destroying their cell membranes. You need to drill a small hole in the infested wood and pour the oil into the hollow spaces. Results will be seen within a week or two.
- Sunlight: As discussed earlier, sunlight is the most cost effective way to kill termites. Termites like darkness and once exposed to light and heat can help in sweeping them off. For example, if your table or chair is infested, you can take them out in sunlight and leave it for 2-3 days.
Killing Subterranean Termites
- Boric acid: Boric acid is a natural insecticide that dehydrates the insects and stops their nervous system. You may coat or spray the wood with boric acid. Please beware. This acid can be toxic if inhaled. You need to use mask and gloves while using the acid. Keep your pets and children away from this substance.
- Nematodes: Nematodes are worm species that look out for hosts like termites. Nematodes can be used in a spray form that will kill termites in approximately 48 hours. Nematodes are not harmful to plants, humans or pets. They only concentrate on insects and destroy their colony in no time. Remember that nematodes should be used immediately. If you are not using them immediately then store it in a refrigerator. Use them either in the early morning or after sunset.
- Bug bombs: Bug bombs are easily available at grocery stores. Big bombs consist of liquid insecticide and are available in pressurized aerosol cans. When sprayed, it falls on the floor and other areas. When termites come in contact with this toxic substance, they die. The bombs, however, do not penetrate the wood or reach termite nests. Wear a mask when you use the bug bomb.
Termite Treatment Cost
It totally depends on what type of treatment you are doing. If you are doing DIYs then it will cost almost nothing as compared to buying things or getting professional help. Again, in certain cases you need to invest when termites are in huge population.
For example, if you are not taking a professional help and want to do things on your own then consider using the chemicals mentioned above. If you are using a boric acid, it may cost around $7/oz.
If you are using nematodes as a natural treatment then it would cost you approximately $20 per 1 million nematodes.
Electrocution cost will depend on where you live. Also, whether you are planning to buy or rent it will determine the cost.
To perform special wood treatments you need to buy chemicals. Take the example of products that have borate (like Bora-care). Borate is basically a type of salt that is used to kill the termites. It is a low toxicity wood preservative and doesn’t affect the environment much. It penetrates into the wood completely and destroys the termites immediately. The cost of borate will be around $50-$280 depending on the size.
If the problem is big and you feel that professional help is required then consider shedding out $300-$400. It is always better to prevent and control the occurrence of termite to avoid paying huge sums.
DIY Termites Control
Cardboard Trap Method
You need flat strips of cardboard. Wet the cardboard and stack them where termites are usually found. Termites feed on cellulose and cardboards have cellulose. Once the cardboard gets infested by the termites, you may take it out and burn them. This process should be repeated multiple times to get the best results. Understand that this is just a quick fix and might not solve the major termite problems. In that case you may require some other treatment methods.
The market is flooded by termite baiting systems. You do not require any chemicals to inject it into the soil. All you need is termite baits that you can directly place into the ground. The termite will feed on it and will die. Baiting can be a great DIY tool to not only kill the termites but also monitor the places where termites might breed. Baiting can be used at places where pesticides or chemicals might be dangerous for the soil or plants.
Natural Ways to Get Rid of Termites
Here are the ways to kill termites naturally:
- Using a cardboard trap: The DIY section discusses on how to eradicate termites using cardboard. This cost involved in doing this DIY will be around $0.15.
- Eliminating moisture: Keep all the wooden structures dry. Do not let moisture seep into the wood. The moment it seeps in, there is a possibility of termite infestation.
- Using heat and cold methods: As already discussed, extreme heat or extreme cold can destroy the termites immediately. You may use the microwave technique or the liquid nitrogen technique to kill the termites.
- Exposing to sunlight: Exposing the wood to sunlight can be very helpful. Although it can be a slow process, but termites will die as and when the day passes.
- Nematodes: Nematodes feed on termites, bacteria, and other creatures. They do not harm the environment and are safe to use. It may cost you some money, but the treatment is effective enough to eradicate the termites.