If you are looking for information on how to get rid of termites, you are probably not going to turn to professionals and want to cope with the problem yourself. And that is quite accomplishable!
But you’ll have to go into the issue, be persistent and give up the idea of exterminating the bugs in 10 minutes.
None of the insects or other pests is more dangerous than termites. Only they can ruin your house completely.
But even if you have them, it’s no reason to panic. They are slow eaters (the average colony eats a pound of wood in 5 years), thus your dwelling won’t collapse tomorrow.
Though it doesn’t mean that you should postpone solving the problem for too long, or else you’ll have nothing to save.
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Know Your Enemy’s Face
Proper elimination of those little buggers depends on your approach to it, that’s why it is necessary to do everything right. First of all, you’ll have to determine their type (you haven’t expected them to represent only one species, have you?).
Track down the place of infestation. To locate their main hideouts, take a flashlight and flat-blade screwdriver, and examine everything made of wood:
- Tap on pillars, support and floor beams, and, of course, furniture. If you hear a hollow sound, that would mean it may be damaged by termites.
- Probe suspect wood for strength. If it gives easily or falls apart, this may also be a sign of infestation.
- Look around for mud in wood and any other mud trails. These insects are known to leave fallen wings and mud trails behind.
When you’ve spotted the bugs, try to examine them closely in order to determine their type.
Your home is more likely to be infested by termites of two general types:
- dry wood
And those two are the most destructive to buildings. The percentage of all the populations in the USA looks like this: 10% – dry wood, 90% – subterranean.
Termite Damage to Drywall
Drywall, or sheetrock, is made of two sheets of thick paperboard with gypsum plaster sandwiched in between. Since drywall also contains cellulose, it becomes a potential food source for these pests.
You may sometimes notice very faint traces of their tunnels in sheetrock, bits of dirt or fecal pellets.
All this is evidence that you have this awful problem on your hands, and you have to address it urgently.
This type of insects is found primarily in coastal areas, Southwestern and Southern states (especially in California, Florida, Louisiana and Texas). They don’t need any contact with soil to survive and thrive only in wood. Any cracks, crevices or joints between pieces of wood may become their entrance.
Unlike the subterranean, these buggers establish their nests in dry, undecayed wood completely above ground, and damage done by them is entirely different. They excavate large chambers in wood, connect them by small tunnels, eject wood pellets and leave fecal pellets called frass behind.
Treatment & Control
Now that you have defined the type of the pests inhabiting your home and their locations, it’s time to get rid of them. Of course, there are two ways of doing this – chemical and natural/organic – but since most people opt for a safer way of extermination (i.e. without chemicals), our pieces of advice will focus just on it.
Here are the methods one can resort to:
- Orange oil.
It’s an extract which is obtained from orange peels and is insoluble in water. It’s not intended for internal use, as it will cause severe stomach upset; even its spills are usually irritating to both skin and eyes, therefore, take adequate precautions.
Orange oil owes its effectiveness to the active ingredient D-Limonene that proved to eradicate a great variety of insects, dissolving their exoskeleton and destroying their cell membranes, thus leading to insects’ death.
Drill small holes into the infested wooden item and inject the oil into the hollow spaces (i.e. where the bugs are feeding). It’ll yield results within 3 days or 3 weeks, depending on the severeness of the infestation.
Cost: about $3/oz.
To get rid of termites in wood one may use microwaves. Portable devices are available. The efficacy of this method is 90%, depending on treatment time and detection accuracy. 1-2 feet of the wooden board requires 10 to 30 minute treatment time. And it isn’t necessary to drill holes.
Cost: depends on where you live and whether you buy or rent it.
You can electrocute the insects with the help of portable electric devices. It isn’t necessary to drill holes but when holes are drilled, eradication might be more effective.
Cost: depends on where you live and whether you buy or rent it.
If possible, remove the affected item from your home and expose it to sunlight. The light and heat from the sun are sure to kill “the invaders” because they like darkness. On a sunny day, take the item outside and leave it there for 2-3 days (or as long as possible).
Cost: free of charge.
The surface of wood and some other sensitive items (e.g. plastic outlet covers) may get damaged by the devices that generate microwaves.
Test the infested item before carrying out this procedure.
No matter which method you choose, it is necessary to make periodic checks and repeat the procedure to eliminate reinfestation. You may also paint wood – the insects won’t enter through painted surfaces.
Subterranean termites can be found in both the wood of your house and the soil around it, compost piles and foundational wood. They are common throughout the United States, yet are quite scarce in colder states.
Since these bugs need the protection of tiny spaces and moisture to live, they build a system of pencil-thick tubes and tunnels of earth and mud across exposed areas. And typically, they do much more harm to your home than dry wood.
When you change your lodgings, you should check all movable wooden objects thoroughly.
As far as drywood termites can live without soil contact, they’re often carried in infested furniture or other wooden objects into such geographical areas where they aren’t normally found.
There are three ways of doing it:
- Beneficial nematodes.
These are very small unsegmented worm species which search for hosts, like termites and burrow into them, causing death within approximately 48 hours. Spray the nematodes into the yard and infested rooms. That’s all you need to do. They are not harmful to humans, plants or pets, and are able to kill the entire insect colony.
Beneficial nematodes can be bought at your local garden supply/hardware store or online. If you don’t use them immediately after they’re purchased, store the nematodes in a refrigerator. They should be planted after the sunset or in the early morning since UV light harms them.
Cost: about $20 for 1 million nematodes.
It’s one of the most effective ways to kill the insects. This natural insecticide shuts down their nervous system and dehydrates them.
- Spray or coat wood with boric acid.
- Place boric acid bait stations in your garden and/or at home. Check them regularly and replenish with boric acid. This insecticide is toxic when inhaled or ingested, so use gloves and a face mask while working with it, and be sure to keep your children and pets away from the substance.
Cost: about $7/oz.
- Cardboard trap.
Termites feed not only on wood but on everything containing cellulose, such as paper and cardboard. Thus, the latter will make excellent bait for the insects. Take 3-5 sheets of flat cardboard and wet them up. Stack the sheets on one another near the most infested area. When it’s full of bugs, put on gloves, take the trap out and burn it. If necessary, repeat the process many times.
It is not recommended to use this method separately. Combine several methods to achieve better results.
Cost: about $0.15/piece.
Wood Treatment for Termites
There are several things you can try to prevent or get rid of these cellulose eating bugs. It must be noted that the following goods are chemicals!
- Products with borate (e.g. Bora-Care)
Natural borate salt (known as a very effective insecticide) is typically an active ingredient in such products. Speaking of Bora-Care: it’s a low toxicity wood preservative with low environmental impact. It is safe for people and pets, but destructive for insects. It deeply penetrates the wood, thus eliminating the latter as a food source. Bora-Care not only prevents infestations but also kills the existing ones.
Cost: depends on size and type of product, about $40-280.
- Termidor SC (i.e. Suspended Concentrate)
It is a professional product for eliminating termites and protecting your dwelling from future infestations. Termidor is intended for outside use only. It is safe for pets and people when used as directed.
Cost: about $60/20 oz.
Pesticide foggers are commonly called “bug bombs”. They can be bought at grocery and hardware stores.
Termite bombs consist of termiticide, i.e. liquid insecticide, contained in pressurized aerosol cans. A bomb disperses a fog of pesticide into the air which after some time falls to the floor and other exposed surfaces. When the bugs come in contact with this toxic substance, they die.
However, these bombs are not recommended for eradicating infestation from an entire house because termiticide doesn’t penetrate wood and doesn’t reach termite nests. Moreover, inhaling or ingesting termiticides is harmful both for people and pets.
If the above-mentioned methods don’t suit you, you may want to use the following home remedies against this creepy crawlies:
- Essential oils. Clove bud oil is particularly effective in killing termites. Take a mist sprayer, put the oil into it and spray everything where you think they are living. If you want to prevent their appearance or reinfestation, use vetiver oil.
- Aloe. This remedy kills the bugs only on contact with aloe. Crush the entire plant into some container and pour enough water to cover the plant. Then, after several hours, strain the liquid and add 5 parts of water to 1 part of aloe into a mist sprayer. Spray it directly on the insects.
- Sodium chloride. Soak several cotton balls with an organic compound, sodium chloride, and a cleaning agent. Then fill these balls in any plastic cover and place in all infested areas. This will kill the pests and stop their recurring.
To sum it all up, termites can cause thousands of dollars damage to your home. If you see piles of wings, tiny holes in wood, mounds of insect droppings or mud tubes, you have “unwelcome guests”. Don’t waste time and call a professional, or try some eradication methods described in this article.
After you have cleared your home from those pests, don’t forget to maintain your home dry, seal any cracks or crevices in it, and keep firewood off your property in order to prevent reinfestation.
Have a good “hunt”!
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