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 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
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 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.
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:
|Wing Size & Position
|Front wings larger, rear wings smaller
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 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 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 (DE) is a natural powder that kills termites by damaging their exoskeletons.
- Pros: Safe for humans and pets
- Cons: Requires frequent reapplication
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 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 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
|Eco-friendly and effective
|Less effective in cold climates
|Inexpensive and available
|Can harm plants and animals
|Safe for humans and pets
|Requires frequent reapplication
|Pleasant scent and non-toxic
|Not as effective as chemical treatments
|Safe and eco-friendly
|Takes longer to eliminate colonies
|Inexpensive and available
|Requires frequent applications and may harm plants
DIY Termite Control Strategies
A simple way to trap termites is by using cardboard. Here’s how:
- Wet a few pieces of cardboard
- Stack them together
- 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.
- Easy to use
- Not a long-term solution
- May attract more termites
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.
- Easy to find
- May need multiple applications
- Harsh on plants if used outdoors
Some essential oils, such as clove oil, can help with termite control.
– 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
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
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
- Effectively eliminates termite colonies
- Protects your home from further damage
- Offers warranties for future termite-free protection
- 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
|Potentially harmful chemicals
|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:
- 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.
|May require professional application
|Long-lasting protection, low toxicity
|May not be suitable for all wood types
|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.
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.
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????
May 9, 2011
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.