How to Get Rid of Termites Naturally: Simple DIY Solutions for Homeowners

Termites can cause significant damage to wooden structures and are a common problem for homeowners. But not everyone wants to rely on harsh chemicals to get rid of them. Luckily, there are natural ways to tackle termite infestations and protect your home.

One popular method is to use natural predators, such as nematode worms or certain bird species that feed on termites. Setting up birdhouses in your yard and introducing nematodes into termite-infested areas can help curb infestations without harming the environment. Another approach is to utilize natural repellents like orange oil, which can be applied to affected wood to drive termites away.

Boric acid is an effective and eco-friendly option for controlling termites. Mixing boric acid with water and applying it to termite-infested areas can help kill the insects without posing a risk to humans or pets. Keep in mind, however, that these natural methods may not always eradicate large or deeply entrenched infestations completely, so it’s essential to monitor their effectiveness and consider professional help if needed.

Identifying a Termite Infestation

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites are the most common type in the U.S. and can be found infesting fallen trees, stumps, or other dead wood in contact with the soil. They are within genera like Reticulitermes, Heterotermes, and Coptotermes 1.

Some characteristics of subterranean termites include:

  • Require direct contact with soil or moisture sources
  • Construct mud tubes to protect themselves from open air
  • Cause significant structural damage if left untreated

Drywood Termites

These termites don’t need direct soil contact, infesting wood materials instead. Drywood termites are less common and smaller in size when compared to subterranean termites 2.

Drywood termite features:

  • Can infest wooden materials directly, no soil contact needed
  • Produce distinctive fecal pellets, indicating their presence
  • Less aggressive but still cause structural damage over time

Mud Tubes

Mud tubes are a sign of termite activity, particularly subterranean termites. They build these tubes to maintain moisture levels and protect themselves from predators while they travel between food sources and their colonies. Look for mud tubes on walls, foundations, or support beams.

Damaged Wood

Termites feed on wood, leaving behind a honeycomb-like pattern of damaged wood. Tap the wood gently with a screwdriver or similar tool; if it sounds hollow or easily breaks, you may have a termite infestation.

Flying Ants vs Winged Termites

It’s crucial to differentiate between flying ants and winged termites to address the problem accurately. A comparison table of their features:

Feature Flying Ant Winged Termite
Antennae Elbowed Straight
Wing Size & Position Front wings larger, rear wings smaller Equal-sized wings
Waist Pinched Broad

If you find winged termites or evidence of termite activity, take action immediately to prevent further damage to your property.

Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Termites

Nematodes

Nematodes are microscopic worms that feed on termites. They can be purchased online or from garden stores.

  • Pros: Eco-friendly and effective
  • Cons: May be less effective in cold climates

Boric Acid

Boric acid is a natural insecticide that can be mixed with water and applied to infested areas.

  • Pros: Inexpensive and widely available
  • Cons: May harm plants and animals if not used carefully

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a natural powder that kills termites by damaging their exoskeletons.

  • Pros: Safe for humans and pets
  • Cons: Requires frequent reapplication

Orange Oil

Orange oil, extracted from orange peels, is a natural termite repellent and killer.

  • Pros: Pleasant scent and non-toxic
  • Cons: Not as effective as chemical treatments

Neem Oil

Neem oil is a natural insecticide derived from the neem tree. It can be applied to wood surfaces or mixed with water and sprayed on infested areas.

  • Pros: Safe and eco-friendly
  • Cons: Takes longer to eliminate termite colonies

Vinegar

Vinegar is a common household item that can be mixed with water and sprayed on infested areas to kill termites.

  • Pros: Inexpensive and readily available
  • Cons: Requires frequent applications and may harm plants
Method Pros Cons
Nematodes Eco-friendly and effective Less effective in cold climates
Boric Acid Inexpensive and available Can harm plants and animals
Diatomaceous Earth Safe for humans and pets Requires frequent reapplication
Orange Oil Pleasant scent and non-toxic Not as effective as chemical treatments
Neem Oil Safe and eco-friendly Takes longer to eliminate colonies
Vinegar Inexpensive and available Requires frequent applications and may harm plants

DIY Termite Control Strategies

Cardboard Traps

A simple way to trap termites is by using cardboard. Here’s how:

  1. Wet a few pieces of cardboard
  2. Stack them together
  3. Place the stack near a termite-infested area

Termites are attracted to the cellulose in wet cardboard. Once they gather, simply remove and burn the cardboard. Repeat this process until you see a decrease in termites.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Not a long-term solution
  • May attract more termites

Salt Treatment

Using salt is another natural method to eliminate termites. Mix equal parts of salt and warm water in a spray bottle until it dissolves. Apply the solution to termite-infested areas.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to find

Cons:

  • May need multiple applications
  • Harsh on plants if used outdoors

Essential Oils

Some essential oils, such as clove oil, can help with termite control.

Essential Oil Effectiveness Pros Cons
Clove Oil High – Natural
– Repels termites
– Pleasant scent
– Can be expensive
– May irritate skin

To use, dilute a few drops of clove oil with water in a spray bottle. Apply to termite-infested areas.

Remember, always test a small area first and follow safety guidelines when using essential oils.

Preventing Future Infestations

Eliminate Moisture

Termites are attracted to moisture, so it’s important to take steps to eliminate it. Keep your home’s surroundings dry by:

  • Cleaning and maintaining gutters regularly
  • Fixing plumbing leaks promptly

Additionally, ensure proper ventilation in your home to prevent humidity buildup.

Wooden Structures and Furniture Care

Taking care of wooden structures and furniture can help prevent termite infestations. Some tips include:

  • Store firewood away from your home
  • Avoid using wood mulch near wooden structures
  • Regularly inspect wooden furniture for signs of termites

Termite-Resistant Materials

Using termite-resistant materials can be an effective preventative measure. Some examples of these materials include:

  • Termite-resistant wood, such as cedar and redwood
  • Steel mesh barriers
  • Concrete foundations

When building or renovating your home, consider using these materials to help prevent termites.

Maintain Your Home’s Exterior

Regular maintenance of your home’s exterior can help prevent termite infestations. Be sure to:

  • Seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors
  • Remove dead wood and debris from your yard
  • Keep plants and shrubs trimmed and away from your home’s foundation

By following these preventative measures, you can help minimize the risk of future termite infestations and keep your home free of these destructive pests.

When to Seek Professional Help

Termites can cause immense damage to your home and belongings if left unchecked. While natural methods can help keep termites at bay, you may still need professional assistance in some cases.

When to Call a Professional

  • Extensive damage: If termites have caused significant damage to your home, get a professional pest control service to assess and advise on how to proceed.
  • Persistent infestations: When termite populations persist despite your best efforts using natural remedies, it’s time to call a professional pest control company to tackle the issue.
  • Unsure of infestation: If you can’t determine whether you’re dealing with termites or another pest, an exterminator can help identify and treat the problem.

Pros and Cons of Professional Termite Extermination

Pros:

  • Effectively eliminates termite colonies
  • Protects your home from further damage
  • Offers warranties for future termite-free protection

Cons:

  • Can be expensive
  • May have to vacate your home during treatment
  • Some treatments use chemicals that might be harmful to humans, pets, or the environment
Natural Methods Professional Extermination
Eco-friendly Potentially harmful chemicals
Lower costs Higher costs
DIY options Requires professional assistance
Might not be as effective Effective termite elimination

Keep in mind that it’s crucial to intervene in the early stages of a termite infestation. If you’re ever unsure whether natural methods are suitable for your situation, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional pest control service.

Environmental Concerns and Safety Measures

According to the US EPA, traditional termite control often involves harmful chemicals. To minimize environmental impacts and protect our health, natural termite control methods are a better choice.

Natural Pesticide Alternatives:

  • Nematodes: Microscopic worms that feed on termites
  • Borates: Mineral-based treatment that affects the termite’s digestion
  • Diatomaceous Earth: Fossilized remains of algae that damage the termite’s exoskeleton

Using natural methods reduces the risk of contaminating water sources and harming non-target organisms.

Benefits of Natural Termite Control:

  • Eco-friendly
  • Safer for humans and pets
  • Less damage to beneficial insects

However, these methods may not be effective for large infestations and may require professional assistance.

Comparison Table:

Method Pros Cons
Nematodes Eco-friendly, target-specific May require professional application
Borates Long-lasting protection, low toxicity May not be suitable for all wood types
Diatomaceous Earth Safe for humans and pets, affordable Less effective on larger infestations

Always consider safety measures when implementing natural termite control. Wear gloves, protective clothing, and a mask to prevent irritation or allergies. Consult with professionals for expert advice if necessary.

Footnotes

  1. UC IPM – Subterranean Termites

  2. US EPA – Termites: How to Identify and Control Them

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Tampon Infestation

 

Hi, Your website is awsome, and answers many questions. Anyway, I thought I would share a termite (I think a termite?) horror story. You may not be able to post it as it is a bit graphic but I think it is a great story and a very important PSA for any woman with termites in her house. Anyway, when I was about 12 or 13 I started using tampons. As any girlcan tell you, when you first start you can’t do it very well. So I was in the bathroom (of our termite infested house) wrestling with this damn thing which I couldn’t (THANKFULLY) get in and finally gave up. Blaming the product, I put it up to my face and popped the cotton part out of the plastic applicator to see if maybe there was something wrong with it. Well,to my horror there were maggots (my biggest fear) writhing all over the cotton, in and out of little holes they had made. I threw it across the room as I assume anyone would and then realized after the shock of maggots in my face, that I had just been trying to shove that thing in myself. After thinking about it I realized that the grubs were most likely not maggots but termite larva, we had just had a “termite night” the day before, where the adult termites fly all over the place and you have to sit around with the lights out. I do not use tampons anymore without first inspecting the cotton part THOROUGHLY. So the moral of this story is to all women, pop the cotton out of the tampon before using to make sure you are not disturbing anyone’s meal.
Jade Shiroma

Dear Jade,
While your story is truly horrific, I don’t believe you had termite larvae eating the cotton of the tampon. Termite young are cared for within the colony. A more likely suspect are certain moths or beetles that eat natural fibers.

That makes so much more sense. Thanks and I will continue to tell everybody about your site. Thanks so much.

Letter 2 – Household Intruders: Cockroaches, Termites or Earwigs????

 

Household Intruders
Location California
May 9, 2011

Unknown Nymphs

Ed. Note: Reader assistance requested
Our coworker at LACC, Betsy from the Nursing Department, hand delivered these two nymphs taped to a small notepad.  We are uncertain if they are immature Cockroaches, Termites or Earwigs.  Betsy indicated that they were found in large numbers on the kitchen counter and that the new downstairs neighbors have reported a Cockroach infestation which makes Cockroaches our number 1 choice, and they do seem to closely resemble this image of a German Cockroach nymph on BugGuide.  They are very tiny.  If any readers can confirm an identification, it would be greatly appreciated.

Letter 3 – Crayfish or Termite? You Decide

 

What is this?
Came across your website when trying to identify this “nest” found in a nature reserve in South Australia . Is it a wasp nest? Anything you can tell me would be appreciated.

Our first guess would be a Crayfish (or Crawfish or Clawfish or Crawdad) Burrow, but it is shaped differently than the ones we see stateside. I would also guess possibly a termite mound.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

13 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Termites Naturally: Simple DIY Solutions for Homeowners”

  1. While I am certainly no expert, we did have a German cockroach infestation at my work, and these guys do look just like the nymphs that I recall. They were also very easy to get rid of without violent means – With some extra care to keep food packed tightly and clean everything regularly, we were not seeing them after two weeks.

    Reply
  2. This may or may not be helpful, but here in Costa Rica i see a lot of similar tubes that are constructed by a small wasp that seem to construct them as part of their brood chambers. My guess is that they construct them to keep out rain water that can accumulate briefly after a short but heavy rain.

    Reply
  3. So usually when I’m going about my daily business when it’s “that time of month,” I wrap my used tampons in toilet paper. But lately, at home, I’ve gotten a bit lazy and just toss them into the trash bin. Well, now there are what appear to be fruit flies swarming the used tampons in my trash bin (I just presumed it had something to do with the fact that I didn’t cover them). Why would fruit flies (or whatever the insect) be attracted to my used tampons? Or is it something else in the trash that they’re after?

    Reply
    • Honestly the same thing happened to me and that’s why I came to this site, to see if it haopened to anyone else. It was disgusting I covered the whole thing in plastic and threw it away

      Reply
  4. I am also looking for information on very tiny cockroaches. They are so small I don’t think I could take a picture.

    Reply
    • Newly hatched Cockroaches are very small. Their presence is a good sign that reproducing adults are present and more than likely there is an infestation.

      Reply
  5. Jesus christ, this website is terrible at identifying bugs? Is there an actual entemologist who’s reviews these ansswers? As much as you just want to classify it as a cockroach I’m afraid its far closer to a baby earwig fhan a roach .. Just by looking at the rear you can tell that one is a male and the other female

    Reply
    • Bugworth do you suggest another site to identify household bugs if Bugman can not?. I have a little bug about 3/16 long that is elongated with a square back end. Short antenna with a clear or silver under side The small head appears attached to a second short oblong body part but can not tell if that is one or two parts. The body does have wings but it does not seem to fly. the legs are not counted but they are thin. they have been found in the bathroom and I saw them craw under the baseboard. I have found the in boxes, in cupboards with dishes, in the bathroom trow rugs even just after washed. I am freaking out not knowing what they are or how to get rid of them. When I picked it up with a piece of tape the colour on the back appears to be redish brown

      Reply
  6. Jesus Christ the story about the insect larve/maggots inside the tampon is horrific. I doubt I’ll forget that for the rest of my life. Absolutely horrific.

    Reply
  7. Ok so my mom is freaking out bc she pulled her tampon out and was horrified by a little worm/maggot looking thing by the string and we have no clue what it is or how to find out what it is

    Reply

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