Termites are pests that live in colonies and feed on cellulose found in plants and wood. With so many feeding on the same “food” source, they can surely destroy anything.
Of course, we all want them out of our homes as quickly as possible. But before taking measures to destroy them, it’s important to understand some basic facts.
Generally, there are five types of termites: conehead, dampwood, drywood, formosan and subterranean termites. Irrespective of your location, any or all of these may be found in your home.
But the most common one is the drywood termite that feeds on wooden objects. Subterranean termites make their mounds outside, but they can get access ino your home through an extensive tunneling from underneath.
There are some warning signs that termites may have infested your home.
- If you find cracked or bubbled paint on your wall, termites may be eating through the interior of the structure and have reached the coating or surface of the paint.
- When solid wood sounds hollow (tapping on it creates a slight echo), termites may be feeding on the cellulose inside it.
Termites are not seasonal pests. They can invade at any time of the year. That’s why you should be ready with a pest-control plan to address an infestation.
It is best to get professional help to get rid of the infestation. In the meantime, you can try some measures at your home itself to help control the problem.
Here are the top 10 ways to get rid of termites.
1. Expose Termites to Sunlight
Termites are extremely susceptible to sunlight and die off when exposed to the sun’s harsh ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Exposing them to sunlight is a great method for eliminating termites from a piece of furniture or other item that can be placed outside in the sun.
- Place your infested furniture outside in direct sunlight.
- Try to keep the furniture in the sun for 3 to 5 days.
2. Wet Cardboard Trap
A wet cardboard trap is another nontoxic way to kill termites. Cardboard contains cellulose that they feed on.
The woody smell of wet cardboard is proven to be irresistible to these pests.
- Wet down some corrugated cardboard boxes.
- Place them near where you suspect a termite infestation.
- When you find termites colonizing and feeding on the box, remove it and burn the box.
3. Orange Oil
Orange oil contains d-limonene, an active compound that kills drywood termites on contact.
It is a very effective remedy to eliminate drywood colonies that have infested limited areas.
- Apply orange oil on the surfaces where you see colonies of drywood termites. Reapply the oil for several days.
- You can also drill small holes into the infested surface and inject the oil into the hollow spaces. Re-inject the oil over several days, depending on the severity of the infestation.
4. Neem Oil
Though it works slowly, neem oil is a relatively safe and nontoxic way to get rid of wood termites. It acts as an insect growth regulator and prevents them from molting, which leads to their death. It even causes termites to stop eating and laying eggs.
Neem oil can kill termites, but only when they come in direct contact with the oil.
- Put neem oil on a cotton ball and apply it generously on the infested furniture and other areas. The termites will ingest the oil and eventually die.
- Reapply the oil several times until the termites are eliminated.
5. Borax (Sodium Borate)
Borax, also known as sodium borate, can help kill subterranean termites. It can shut down their nervous system and dehydrate them.
- Coat infested areas evenly with borax powder. Repeat every other day for a week to ensure that the entire colony has been exterminated.
- You can also spray a borax solution onto wood surfaces from time to time to deter termites and prevent an infestation. To prepare the solution, dissolve 1 teaspoon of borax powder an 8–ounce cup of hot water.
6. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth can solve a variety of pest problems, including a termite infestation. It will even prevent subterranean as well as drywood termites from infesting your home.
Diatomaceous earth abrades the termites’ outer shells, causing them to dry out and die.
- Sprinkle a thin layer of diatomaceous earth on infested areas. Repeat once daily until all the termites are gone.
- Once in a while, spread garden-grade diatomaceous earth along your home’s foundation wall as well as areas where there is a risk of infestation.
Note: Always wear a mask when handling diatomaceous earth.
7. Soapy Water
A simple soapy water solution can help get rid of termites. It forms an impermeable seal on the termites’ outer shells. This destroys their respiratory system and ultimately they die.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap in 4 cups of water.
- Put this solution into a spray bottle.
- Spray the solution on any affected wood and other areas.
- Reapply a few times daily until you are satisfied with the result.
8. White Vinegar
White vinegar is another effective method to control termite infestations in small areas.
- Mix together ½ cup of white vinegar and the juice of 2 lemons.
- Pour this solution into a spray bottle.
- Spray the mixture onto any area where you see termites.
- Repeat twice daily for a few days.
9. Cayenne Pepper
For small, localized areas infested with wood termites, you can try cayenne pepper as it helps kill these pests.
- Sprinkle cayenne pepper powder liberally on small infested areas. Repeat for a few days until you find all the termites dead.
- You can also make a paste of cayenne pepper and light vegetable oil and apply it to vertical spots, once daily for a few days.
To kill these tiny creatures, salt is also very effective. It also keeps termites at bay, thus preventing further infestation.
- Mix equal parts of warm water and salt in a bowl, and stir it until the salt dissolves.
- Fill a syringe with this solution and inject it into the termite entry points.
- Pour some solution around entry points as well.
- Repeat daily for a few days.
- Remove wood, lumber, mulch and even paper debris near your home’s foundation as they can be an easy source of food for termites.
- Regularly inspect your decking, fencing or other wood components for early signs of infestation.
- If you find cracks in a wall or at the sites where utilities pass through the wall, fill them with cement or caulk to prevent infestation.
- Use parasitic nematodes, which are worms that feed on termites and can be very effective in eliminating these pests.
- Keep moisture away from your home’s foundation. Keep your gutters and downspouts clean and remove standing water on your roof.
- Repair leaking water pipes and other plumbing accessories.
- You can always opt for professional help to provide a heat or cold treatment to get rid of these tiny creatures.