Many people are uncomfortable using chemical insecticides in or around their homes in order to control termites and in an attempt to avoid using them they want to learn about natural or termite control methods.
There are certain methods of termite control that are more safe and natural than others. But often times there is a sacrifice in the effectiveness of these alternative termite control methods. Like anything in life there is give and take, pros and cons. We will discuss some of these below so that you can have a good grasp on what you are could expect if you decide to go the natural route of termite-control.
Understand The Limits Of Natural Termite Control and Alternative Methods
The first step is to understand at least some general facts about termites. Learn a little bit about how they live, what they are attracted to, and how to spot signs of termites around your home. You should also learn a little bit about the different types of termites because the various species require different control methods.
One of the most natural methods of fighting termites is to utilize predators or enemies of termites against them. Let nature wage the war for you.
The Best Natural Control Method Is Prevention!
Prevention is the best method of termite control and there are several actions you can take in this department that will reduce your chances of a termite infestation in your home, structure, or property.
For one, you can take several natural measures during the construction phase of a building to deter termites. For instance certain types of lumbar naturally deter termites such as cedar.
Termite control usually involves the use of fumigation chemicals whose names are difficult to pronounce. Naturally some people don’t want to put these kind of chemicals all over their house because although they may be effective for killing termites many people fear their potential side effects that may have not yet been studied. Because of this some people will seek out organic alternatives to termite treatment even though some of these methods have not yet proven to be particularly effective.
Prevention by Controlling Leaks
The typical price of termite control is much cheaper than the typical price of termite treatment. Because of this you should focus the majority of your efforts on preventing a termite infestation in the first place.
The first thing you can do to help control termites naturally is to be aware of the effects of water and to prevent from creating a habitat that termites are attracted to. When wood is soaked or becomes moist it makes it easier for subterranean termites to munch away at it. In fact they require some moisture for them to eat away the cellulose in wood. Have you ever flipped over a moist decaying log in the forest and seen a plethora of “white ants” eating way at the underside of the log? The reason they are under their and not seen from the top is because that is the part of the wood that touches the ground and is hidden from the sun and therefore the most moisture is present on the underside.
Anytime you have a leak of water in your house where the water reaches wood a vulnerable environment is being created that termites would love to find. A tiny drip from a pipe in the right spot can overtime moisten lumber quite a bit.
So do a through check of your house to make sure you don’t have big or small leaks and if you have had leaks in the past then you may want to go check around those areas for signs or evidence of termites. Also do the screwdriver tap test. Simply tap along the wood in those areas that were previously soaked with a screw driver. A termite infested area of wood will sound significantly more hollow than an area that is not infested. If you hit an infested spot you will notice the difference and if it is very sever the screwdriver might even break the surface of the wood.
The places you should investigate the most thoroughly for current leaks are anywhere that significant plumbing exists. Your kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room are usually the greatest culprits for leaks.
Another method besides visual inspection is to turn all your water off before you head out of town for the weekend and notate your water meter reading when you leave and when you return. If the meter reading has increased even though you turned the water main off then it is likely you have a leak somewhere. Find out where and seal it yourself or hire a plumber if it is anywhere near lumber that you would like to prevent termites from inhabiting.
Identify the Problem First
If you find that you have wood that has or previously had water damage and also find out that it has been infested by pests you need to determine what exactly in eating the wood. There are multiple pests that eat wood including carpenter ants and certain types of beetles. Here is a video with some good footage of termites that will help you know what you are looking for in case you are unfamiliar with termites.
Remember the main signs of termites include:
- Mud tubes
- Discarded Wings
- Termite Swarmers
- Termite Frass (Droppings)
Check here for a more thorough discussion of these four signs.
The usual culprits of wood damage are either carpenter ants or termites but there are also certain types of beetles that eat wood as well.
The easiest way to tell between carpenter ants and termites is that ants have three sections to their bodies and termites only have two. Also, those sections on ants are more spherical where the body of a termite is mostly straight. If you really are having a tough time identifying them take a look at some of the pictures or videos in our gallery or do a quick google search. After you look at a few examples it’s pretty easy to distinguish the two from each other. Once you know what you are dealing with you can choose effective strategies in combating termites.
Natural Termite Control Methods
- Natural Dusting
- Diatomaceous earth : A very harmless method of termite prevention that also helps control other types of insects.
- Diatomaceous earth can be mixed with water or paint and applied to the wood of your home to help keep termites at bay. You could also if building a new home or repainting the exterior, add Diatomaceous earth to the paint mixture. If this is not your current situation you can also apply the powder to your attic, crawlspaces, or around the base of your house.
- Prethrum : Prethum can be used in a similar way as Boric acid. It can either be coated on the surface of the wood in the liquid form and used as dust to get into the tunnels of already infested areas.
- Orange Oil : Orange oil can be sprayed into areas that are high at risk for termitesonce a year. If you decide to go this route you should at the very least spray your crawl spaces and attic annually in the spring. You can mix the orange oil with DE and/or Boric acid or use it alone. Although all these are naturally occurring methods you should still wear protective equipment such as a hood and gloves when spraying because they are concentrated.
- Surgical Removal : No you don’t need to be a surgeon to do this. The name of this method is just because it resembles the procedure it is named after. It simply entails removing the piece or pieces of “infected” wood and replacing it or them with new lumber. If you decide to do this analyze the piece of wood that you replace and determine which kind of termites (drywood or subterranean) infested it. Remember to utilize some of the preventative measure discussed below to greatly reduce the chances of a repeat infestation. Specifically either apply orange oil or boric acid to the replacement wood.
Natural Termite Prevention Methods
- Creating Barriers : Creating a preventive barrier is a great way to keep termites from entering your home in the first place. You can create one yourself or contract it out but the basics is to mix 9 parts sand to 1 part DE and dig a trench 3 feet deep 3 feet away from your house and fill the trench with your termite barrier mixture.
- Nematodes : One of the most natural methods of fighting termites is to utilize predators or enemies of termites against them. Let nature wage the war for you. Utilizing nematodes which are other living organisms is a method known as biological pest control. This type of pest control is very useful in certain applications and is a perfect example of using mother nature to accomplish pest control objectives.
- One common way people do this is by purchasing ladybugs to help keep aphids at bay in their garden. Arbico and other companies sell nematodes that eat subterranean termites (Steinernema carpocapsae). They should be applied annually via an attachment to a garden hose. Unfortunately, these are not effective against drywood termites.
You can usually buy these type of nematodes that prey on termites at your local hardware store or garden store. If you cannot find them there try a farm feed shop or you should be able to find them online pretty easily. There are several types of nematodes available for purchase so ensure you research them a bit. Some nematodes may only attach themselves to certain types of termites. So you need to first identify what type of termites are present in the problem area you are trying to treat, and second research what type of nematode will prey on the species of termites present in your home.
You will also want to follow the instructions for your nematodes carefully. Most nematodes are accustomed to the same dark and cool subterranean environment that termites are. Because of this, you should place them in the ground near the area you want to treat for termites or keep them refrigerated. When you do place them minimize their exposure to sunlight since UV light can kill them.
- Sun Exposure: On the point of sunlight exposure for nematodes… termites are not much different in these regards. Termites are also very sensitive to the sun and will not last long especially in full daylight. So if you have termites in a wooden item you own that is mobile (not your home) then you can try placing that item outside in the sun for a few days. This can work for something like an infested wooden rocking chair.
- Boric Acid : Another preventative termite control method you can use is boric acid in the liquid or the dust form of boric acid or both forms. In the liquid form boric acid can be applied to wood to form a coating that prevents termites from eating into it. If you have already had termites infestations and decide against the surgical removal of wood that was not badly damaged then you can put 20 Mule Team Borax dust in the tunnels of the infested area. You can also check out Termit Pruff or Timbor.
Professional Natural Termite Treatment and Prevention
- Thermal Pest Eradication – Thermal pest eradication is a process that uses heat to kill termites. In this treatment method, the house is wrapped in a tarp and then heated using propane to a temperature high enough to kill the termites inside the wood (usually around 120 degrees Fahrenheit) This is a nice blanket pest control alternative to using chemical fumigation methods if you are not comfortable using these in your house. This method is made even more effective if you combine it with a natural spot control method such as liquid nitrogen treatment.
- Liquid Nitrogen Spot Treatment – This method involves spraying liquid nitrogen inside the tiny whole termites make called pinholes to get the freezing liquid inside the termite tunnels. This is a very effective natural spot treatment for termites. The only downside is that is cannot reach the entire house which is why it should be a general method that will treat the majority of the house such as thermal pest eradication.
- Electrical Shock Spot Treatment – Just like the name implies this method zaps the termites into submission. Like the liquid nitrogen spot treatment, electrical shock treatment requires tiny pinholes be drilled so that the electro gun can insert the wood and deliver an electric shock throughout the termite tunnels. This method only penetrates around 1 – 2 inches of wood making it only acceptable as a spot treatment method.
- Microwave Termite Treatment – This method utilizes a 500-watt microwave device aimed at the infected wall. It cannot reach every part of the house, although it can reach a larger treatment area the other spot treatment methods.
- D-Limonene – Citrus (Orange) Oil – XT-2000 – One of the more popular natural control options is orange oil. The main orange oil termite treatment product is XT-2000 and is used both by professionals and can be purchased by individual homeowners. Citrus oils active ingredient is called d-limonene. D-Limonene is typically applied to wood either by professionals or homeowners to prevent termites from taking a bite out of your wood in the first place. Here’s their website for more info https://eliminitetermite.com/