How to Get Rid of Termites Naturally: Effective Ways that Really Work

How to Get Rid of Termites Naturally
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Getting rid of termites quickly is a must for homeowners who suspect that they have an infestation of these tiny creatures. Termites can quietly do extensive damage to wooden structures of homes and buildings and because of this they are termed “silent destroyers.” These little insects gorge on cellulose and can also eat through wooden furniture, books, and even drywall. However, it’s the threat of damage to the house structure that causes most people to look for effective termite control methods.

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If the termite infestation is extensive, then you may need to call in the professionals. However, there are many effective ways of eradicating termites from your home naturally. These natural methods for termite control can be used in conjunction with a professional termite exterminator or if the invasion isn’t too large. Products like boric acid, diatomaceous earth (DE), and salt are cheap and cost-effective methods of getting rid of termites naturally.

Before looking at natural insecticides and baits for termite control, it’s important to know about the habitat of termites that invade our homes. Also, you will learn how to spot the tell-tale signs of a termite invasion.

Types of Termites

Termites are small winged insects that live in colonies and feed on cellulose – the fibers that make up wood. According to the University of Florida, termites are present in every state in the U.S.A. apart from Alaska and are found as far north as Ontario Canada.1 Termites also infest houses in Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. In fact, Antarctica is the only continent where termites don’t live.

There are 5 different termite species that can infest homes. These are:

  • Drywood termites
  • Subterranean termites
  • Conehead termites
  • Formosan termites
  • Dampwood termites

According to researchers, drywood termites and subterranean termites are the types that are most likely to cause damage to the structures of buildings.

The University of California says that drywood termites are difficult to spot and usually are only noticed when they swarm in homes during the spring or when their habitat has been disturbed (e.g. by repair work in the home). Because of their swarming nature, some homeowners mistake swarming termites for flying ants.2

Researchers from the University of Florida say that termite colonies are organized into 3 types of termites – the ones that reproduce, soldiers, and workers. These tiny pesky insects enter homes to look for food and will come in through any small cracks or joints in the foundation.1

How to Spot Signs of Termite Infestation

Usually, when you notice many termites flying around your house, you already have an infestation. Therefore, it’s important to look for small signs that termites are doing damage to your home before the infestation becomes out of hand.

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Some revealing signs that termites have started to feed on wooden structures and items in your home are the following:

The surface of wood or paint appears blistered. This happens as the termites eat away and hollow out the wood leaving a thin surface.1 Usually, probing the wood with a screwdriver will reveal infested wood if the wood is soft and breaks away easily.

Fecal matter. Noticing small fecal pellets around wood structures is also a sign that termites are living in your property. You may notice these in basements, crawlspaces, attics, or around windows.

Shed wings. Especially in the spring or summertime, you may also see shed wings from the swarming termites. These will be more noticeable around windows and areas of the house where the termites have been dwelling.2

Termite nests. If you notice a termite nest in your yard or near your home, it could mean that you are at risk of having these pests invade your home to set up their colony inside your property.

Mud tubes and mud-filled holes. Researchers from Kentucky State University say that you may notice mud tubes between the soil and wooden structures. Also, holes in structures caused by termite feeding may be filled with mud.3

You can determine if the infestation is active or not by clearing away any fecal matter and shed wings then checking in a few days if there are more pellets. The presence of new termite excrement will be an indication that the infestation of termites is active.

In cases of an active infestation, it’s essential to get rid of all traces of termites from your home as fast as possible.

How to Get Rid of Termites Naturally From your Home

Let’s look as some natural termite control methods to remove these pests from your home and to prevent further structural damage to your building. Just like with getting rid of ants from your home, you can vacuum swarming termites and then destroy the vacuum bag. However, that will only get rid of the termites that you can see.

Here are some ways to destroy colonies of termites that have infested wood structures, paneling, and furniture in your home.

Boric acid

Boric acid has an insecticide effect on termites and other insects that can infest your home and outbuildings. Boric acid is a naturally forming substance that is toxic to termites and can be used to kill these small “white ants”.

According to the National Pesticide Information Center, boric acid disrupts the intestinal system of insects when they digest it. It also damages their outer layer and can cause the pest to dehydrate.4

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Studies have also shown that boric acid is an effective control method for termites. The journal Cell Biology and Toxicology reported that boric acid has a toxic effect on many insects and helps to destroy colonies of insects. Researchers said that boric acid can be used against cockroaches, termites, ants, and other insects.5

Please remember that, although a natural insecticide, boric acid is toxic if ingested so only use it in places where pets and children can’t get at. Always wear protective gloves and a face mask when handling the powder.

How to use:

To make a natural boric acid bait trap for termite extermination in your house, this is what you should do:

  1. Coat with boric acid affected wood items, beams, floorboards and other places where you think termite are residing.
  2. Regularly check the insecticide-coated areas and reapply if necessary.
  3. You should notice dead termites around the areas you applied the boric acid.

You can also mix equal quantities of boric acid and sugar and put the mixture on an upside-down jam jar lid. Place the container near places where you have noticed signs of termites. The termites should be attracted to the sweetness of the bait mixture and then die when they ingest the boric acid.

Orange oil

Orange oil can also be used as a termite repellent and help to eradicate them from wood structures where there are small areas of infestations.

Research into natural termite control methods found that orange oil could be a safe way to get rid of termites. A study in the Journal of Economic Entomology found that oil from citrus peel is toxic to insects. A solution of 5 ppm orange oil (ppm: parts per million) was applied to termites, and killed nearly 70% of the insects. The researchers concluded that an application of orange oil extract can be used with other termite control practices to help get rid of them.6

How to use:

To help get rid of termites from small areas in your home, you can make an orange oil insecticide this way:

  1. Fill a spray bottle with water and add 15-20 drops orange oil and a few drops of dish washing liquid.
  2. Liberally spray on the affected areas in your home.
  3. Repeat every day and look for signs that the orange oil insecticide is killing off termites.

This method may only be useful if the infestation of termites hasn’t gotten too large. It is also more effective on drywood species of termites.

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Nematodes

Nematodes are a popular way to eradicate termites from your home naturally. Nematodes are a species of worm that are a natural predator of termites and will quickly reduce termite numbers in a colony. The benefit of using nematodes in controlling termites is that they won’t harm humans, pets, or plants.

Scientific studies have also confirmed the effectiveness of nematodes in controlling populations of subterranean termites. For example, the University of Arizona published results of research into termite extermination. Some species of nematodes killed off termites in a 24-hour period. The researchers said that nematodes have a limited capacity for termite control, however, they can be used to get rid of termites.7

How to use:

You will need to purchase nematodes to get rid of termites. These can be purchased online, in big box stores, or at garden centers. You can then use the microscopic roundworms to exterminate termites this way:

  1. Fill a bowl of water, add the nematodes and stir well.
  2. Fill a spray bottle with the mixture, shake well, and liberally spray to all affected surfaces such as walls, wooden beams and, furniture.
  3. Repeat the method once a day for 1-2 weeks for the nematodes to adjust to the environment.
  4. Look for signs of dead termites to make sure that the nematodes are doing their job.
  5. Keep applying the solution until you are sure that all termites have been eliminated.

It’s important to apply the mixture in dark, cool conditions. This is because nematodes don’t like the heat and strong sunlight.

Food grade Diatomaceous earth (DE)

A non-toxic way to get rid of various species of termites is to sprinkle food grade diatomaceous earth (DE). Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring substance that destroys insects by damaging their exoskeletal system.

A study published in the journal Sociobiology reported that the abrasive action of DE on termites help to bring down the population of their colonies. During a 4-week period, the number of termites was greatly reduced. The researchers suggested that diatomaceous earth is effective against termites in attics and other dry areas.8

How to use:

Diatomaceous earth can only be used for termite control in dry locations. When using diatomaceous earth for termite control around the home, you should always use “food grade” diatomaceous earth. To use DE to exterminate termites from your home, this is what you should do:

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  1. Use a duster to apply food grade diatomaceous earth to exposed wood in your basement, attic, and crawl space.
  2. Apply the powder 2-3 times a week and keep checking for evidence of termite eradication.
  3. If DE becomes damp or wet, dry the area and reapply it.

Although food grade DE is non-toxic for humans and pets, you should avoid breathing it in because it can cause irritation. Therefore, always wear a mask while applying the anti-termite powder.

Other Methods for Termite Eradication

There are other ways to get rid of subterranean termites and drywood termites for good and prevent these pesky “white ants” doing more damage to your home.

Salt

Many people say that salt is poisonous to termites. Table salt is very cheap to buy and can be used around the home to kill off termites.

You should make a salty solution by mixing equal parts of salt and warm water. Use a syringe to inject affected areas in wooden structures and furniture with the salt solution. This will dehydrate termites when they come into contact with it.

Freezing

Termites can’t survive in extremely cold weather. If you have a problem with termites infesting small wooden items, these can be placed in a freezer for a few days to kill off the bugs.

Sun

During hot weather, you can place large furniture items outside in direct sunlight as long as possible. This also helps to kill off the termites because they thrive in moist and dark conditions and placing furniture in the direct light and heat from the sun helps to kill the termites.

How to Get Rid of Termites Outside the Home

If you have termites or a termite nest in your garden, you can make a trap by using boric acid and some cardboard. The boric acid trap for termites helps to eradicate them outside because the cellulose in the cardboard attracts them and the boric acid kills them.

How to use:

To make a simple and cheap termite trap using boric acid, this is what you should do:

  1. Mix 8 part of warm water with 1 part of boric acid in a bucket and stir well.
  2. Soak a piece of cardboard or some planks of wood in the solution.
  3. Place next to the termite nest to start eradicating the colony and prevent termites infesting your home.

How Professionals Get Rid of Termites Naturally

Very often, it’s necessary to call in the professionals to completely rid your home of all traces of termites. To kill off termites, many termite extermination firms use a mixture of toxic chemicals and insecticides. However, some also use natural and non-toxic methods to eliminate termites.

Some of these professional natural ways to get rid of termites include:

  • Microwave to kill off termites using heat treatment.
  • Heating the structure or parts of it to 140°F (60°C).
  • Electrocution with special equipment that kills termites.
  • Liquid nitrogen injected into wood and small holes to freeze the insects.

How to Prevent Infestation of Termites

Of course, it is always better to take steps to prevent termites becoming a pest in the first place. This can be much cheaper than spending money on termite eradication methods and it protects your investment from being silently eaten away by tiny insects.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends some preventative measures for termite control:9

  • Fill all cracks in the building’s structure and make sure that spaces around pipes entering the home are properly sealed.
  • Fit windows screens to prevent swarming termites entering your home.
  • Keep all vents free to prevent a buildup of moisture in your home.
  • Keep piles of firewood, debris, and shrubs well away from your property.
  • Do a regular inspection of crawlspaces, attics, and basements to check for the first signs of termite infestation.
  • Keep wooden structures like trellises, steps, and decking away from the surface of your home’s exterior.

Read my other related articles:

Article Sources

  1. EntneDeptUFL. Eastern subterranean termite.
  2. IPMUCanr. Drywood termites.
  3. EntomologyK. Winged ant and winged termites.
  4. NPIC. Boric acid.
  5. Cell Biol Toxicol. 2013 Apr; 29(2): 117–129.
  6. J Econ Entomol. 2007 Jun;100(3):880-5.
  7. ArizonaEDU. Subterranean termite mortality due to nematodes.
  8. CTAHR. Diatomaceous earth is not a barrier to subterranean termites.
  9. EPA. Termites: How to identify and control them.
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2 Responses to How to Get Rid of Termites Naturally: Effective Ways that Really Work

  1. Able says:

    Hi Jenny,
    What are the Best Ways To Eliminate Roaches or Cockroach Infestation ?
    Thanks.

    Able

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