Orange Oil for Termite Treatment: Pros and Cons Explained

We know you’re dealing with termites invading your space, potentially putting health and property at risk. If you need help identifying and eliminating the infestation at the source, connect with our recommended local professional near you.

Orange oil has gained popularity as a natural alternative for termite treatment. Derived from orange peels, this essential oil is known for its strong citrus aroma and its ability to eliminate termites efficiently.

One major advantage of using orange oil is its eco-friendly nature. It is non-toxic to humans and pets, making it a safer option for termite treatment in residential areas. Additionally, orange oil can be applied directly to the affected areas, minimizing the need for tenting or fumigation.

However, orange oil also has its drawbacks. It may not be as effective against large termite colonies, and its limited residual effect means that ongoing treatment might be necessary. Furthermore, it might cause damage to certain surfaces or finishes due to its acidity. In comparison with chemical-based treatments, orange oil might have a lower success rate in completely eradicating termites.

Orange Oil for Termite Treatment

What is Orange Oil?

Orange oil is a natural extract derived from orange peels. It contains a high concentration of d-limonene, a compound known for its potential insecticidal properties. Orange oil has been used as an alternative termite treatment method, targeting mostly drywood termites in localized areas.

How Does Orange Oil Work?

Orange oil works by attacking the exoskeleton of termites, causing it to dissolve and resulting in the termite’s death. The d-limonene in orange oil also has a toxic effect that can harm termites upon contact or inhalation. Here are some features of orange oil:

  • Natural and eco-friendly
  • Contains high concentration of d-limonene
  • Can be effective in localized treatments

However, it’s essential to recognize its limitations as well:

  • May not be as effective for widespread infestations
  • Primarily targets drywood termites
  • Requires thorough application to achieve desired results

Types of Termites Treated with Orange Oil

Orange oil has been found most effective in treating drywood termites, as they live entirely within the wood they infest. However, it might not be as effective for subterranean termites, which reside in soil and typically require different methods of treatment.

In summary, orange oil’s benefits and limitations can be compared as follows:

AspectDrywood TermitesSubterranean Termites
Effectiveness of Treatment– More effective– Less effective
Living Habitat– Entirely within wood– Soil
Best Treatment Methods– Localized treatments with orange oil– Conventional soil treatments

Overall, orange oil could be a potential termite treatment option for homeowners experiencing drywood termite infestations, but might not be as effective against subterranean termites. Always consult a professional for the most appropriate termite treatment solution in your specific situation.

Pros of Orange Oil Termite Treatment

High Effectiveness

Orange oil extract has shown to be highly effective in dealing with termites. It contains around 92% d-limonene, which is toxic to insects, making it a powerful treatment for termite infestations.

Low Toxicity

One key advantage of orange oil is its low toxicity. While it’s harmful to termites, it poses much lower risks to humans, pets, and the environment. This makes it a safer option in comparison to chemical treatments.

Eco-friendly Alternative

Orange oil termite treatment is a biodegradable and eco-friendly alternative to conventional chemical treatments. This means it won’t harm the environment or contribute to pollution.

* Biodegradable
* Non-toxic
* Environmentally friendly

Cost-effective and Less Expensive

Using orange oil as a termite treatment is cost-effective in comparison to other methods. It’s less expensive, making it an ideal choice for homeowners seeking affordable termite control solutions.

 Orange OilChemical Treatment

Cons of Using Orange Oil Treatment

Limited Efficacy

  • Orange oil treatment may not be as effective as other methods, such as liquid termiticides.
  • It is often less long-lasting, requiring more frequent applications. A study showed that it eliminated 96% and 68% of termites but was less consistent.

Possible Harm to Paint and Plants

  • Orange oil can cause damage or discoloration to paint or varnish when applied directly to these surfaces.
  • Plants can be harmed if the oil makes direct contact with leaves, especially in high concentrations.

Flammability and Safety Concerns

  • The main component of orange oil, d-limonene, is flammable, posing a fire risk if not handled properly.
  • Skin and eye irritation are possible when handling concentrated orange oil. It’s important to wear protective gear and follow safety guidelines.
 Orange OilLiquid Termiticides
Harm to paint/plantsYesLess likely
Skin/eye irritationYesVaries

In summary, while orange oil treatment has its benefits, there are significant drawbacks to consider, such as limited efficacy, potential harm to paint and plants, and flammability and safety concerns.

Comparison with Other Termite Treatment Methods

Calling a professional is always best for any of the below options.

Fumigation and Tenting

  • Fumigation is a traditional treatment for termite infestation that involves covering the entire structure in a tent and pumping a lethal gas, such as sulfuryl fluoride, into the enclosed area.
    • Pros: Effective for treating drywood termites; better for large infestations.
    • Cons: Potential harm to humans and animals; not suitable for subterranean termites.

Chemical-Based Treatments

  • Chemical-based termite treatments may include pest control with termiticides like fipronil, imidacloprid, or hexaflumuron.
    • Pros: Targets specific termite species; long-lasting results.
    • Cons: Chemical exposure risks; some termites may develop resistance.

Heat Treatment

  • Heat treatment involves raising the temperature in the infested area to a level lethal for termites, often combined with essential oils like orange oil to increase its effectiveness.
    • Pros: Environmentally friendly; no chemical residues.
    • Cons: More time-consuming; may not be applicable to all structures.

Borate-Based Methods

  • Borate-based treatments use chemicals like borax to eliminate termites through ingestion and contact.
    • Pros: Low toxicity to humans and animals; effective for pre-construction prevention.
    • Cons: May not eliminate large, established infestations.
Treatment MethodEffectivenessEnvironmental ImpactSafety
Fumigation and TentingHighHigher riskHigher risk
Chemical-Based TreatmentsHighModerate riskModerate risk
Heat Treatment + Orange OilModerateLow riskLow risk
Borate-Based MethodsModerateLow riskLow risk

Considerations Before Choosing Orange Oil Treatment

Location and Extent of Infestation

Orange oil is highly effective for localized, drywood termite infestations, which are typically found in attic beams, window frames, and other accessible wood structures1. However, for subterranean or widespread infestations, this treatment may not be sufficient.

Consider the following factors:

  • Accessibility: This treatment is suitable for areas easy to reach.
  • Visibility: Orange oil treatment works best for apparent, visible infestations.

Safety Precautions and Measures

While orange oil is generally considered a safer alternative to traditional termite control methods, some safety concerns still exist. Before using orange oil, consider the following precautions:

  • Ventilation: Properly ventilate treated areas to mitigate respiratory irritation.
  • Skin protection: Wear gloves to avoid skin irritations.

Cost and Professional Services

The cost of orange oil treatment varies based on factors such as the size of the infestation and location. Professional termite control services are often necessary for accurate detection and effective treatment. In California, the Structural Pest Control Board regulates these services, ensuring quality and safety.

Comparison of Orange Oil Treatment vs. Traditional Termite Control Methods:

FactorOrange Oil TreatmentTraditional Termite Control Methods
Toxic ResiduesMinimal residues; considered environmentally friendlyHigher levels of toxic residues
Treatment TimeFaster, often completed in one dayLonger, often takes multiple days
Safety MeasuresFewer safety concerns and precautions requiredGreater safety concerns and precautions
EffectivenessLimited to localized, drywood infestationsSuitable for various infestations
CostVaries by location, infestation size, and professional servicesVaries by location, infestation size, and professional services


  1. Effect of orange oil extract on the formosan subterranean termite – PubMed

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, 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 – Termite

Unknown Type of bug
Location: Long Beach, NY
February 18, 2012 1:17 pm
I found these bugs in my house. It is a slab foundation with radiant hot water heat in the floor. I live in Long Island, NY I found them on 2/18/12. Can you please tell me what type of bug it is.
Signature: Chris


Hi Chris,
This sure looks like a Termite to us.  Compare your individual to this photo on BugGuide.  You may want to capture a few and take them to your local natural history museum to be certain before you spend any money on an extermination service.

Letter 2 – Termite

Subject: What kind of bug is this one?
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
November 16, 2012 2:13 am
I live in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. I found this bug crawling in my bed room. It has similar features to a bed bug but it looks like a termite as well. Can you help me identify it please?
Signature: Anonymous


Dear Anonymous,
This is not a Bed Bug.  We agree that this is a Termite.


Letter 3 – Termites

Subject: What kind of bug is this?
Location: Shelby County, Al
March 30, 2017 8:08 pm
These bugs were crawling all over over the back deck this morning.
Signature: Julie K


Dear Julie,
We are sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but you have Termites.

Letter 4 – Termite

Subject: Just moved into apartment
Location: Houston area
May 13, 2016 9:33 pm
I found these things crawing in my kitchen..and a few in the bathroom..they seem to maybe be more active at night..and they dony run fast
Signature: Thank you very much, Mike


Dear Mike,
You have Termites.


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. 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.

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