Just thinking that your home could have termites or spotting a single termite is enough to panic most homeowners. But what do termites do that is so harmful? Is a pest control company necessary, or is there some way to tackle the problem yourself? This article will answer those questions and more.
If you suspect that your house is termite infested, you can try these DIY remedies first:
Termites are small winged insects that look a bit like ants. They survive by feeding off of wood. There are 2,000 varieties of termites, of which 40 are very commonly found in the United States. Depending on the particular species, termites feed off different types of wood. As you would expect, dry wood termites prefer dry wood and damp wood termites prefer damp wood.
Some species flourish in dry environments and others thrive in moist ones. So, no matter where you live, you can be sure that there’s a termite species living there as well. Most termites are not even a ½ inch long. Their wings are the same size on both sides, and they have two tiny antennae. They look a bit like flying ants, but they’re white and have uniformly-sized wings, whereas the wings on ants are either longer in front or in back.
Signs That Your Home is Housing a Nest of Termites
Termites can easily be seen because they move around in swarms. So, if you see any white insects flying around inside or outside your home, especially around wood, books or the foundation, they are probably termites. You very likely have a nest of termites somewhere in your home.
If your home is infested with termites, you probably have mud tubes along the exterior. If you look closely, you’ll likely see discarded little wings lying about, plus tiny termite droppings. To find the nest try tapping the walls and if you find a spot that sounds hollow, that may be where the nest is.
Getting Rid of Termites
Chemical pesticides are what homeowners most often use to get rid of termites. While this can be effective, chemicals pose a considerable health risk to family members and pets. If you think it makes sense to try a more natural product to get rid of the termites, you do have options:
Orange Essential Oil
Mix a few drops of orange essential oil with olive oil or water and pour into a spray bottle, shake and spray the mixture wherever you’ve noticed termites. Orange essential oil will poison any termites that come into contact with it.
Use this just like you would orange essential oil, because it too is poisonous to termites. In using either of these oils, you must keep children and pets away from the areas you’ve sprayed so they have no direct exposure.
Borax, which is derived from boric acid, is also lethal to termites. So, if you spray borax on the suspected termite colony, it should kill them all.
Regardless of the substance (natural or chemicals) that you choose to use to control or eliminate termites, you’ll ultimately need to get rid of termites at two levels. The first level is more of a surface treatment because only the worker termites get exposed to the poison at that level. To totally eradicate termites you must go beyond the surface to a second and more in-depth treatment level that targets the nest, the queen and all her eggs, to ensure they’re totally killed off.
This is why some people still discover termites in or around their house after their initial attempts to deal with them. It’s very important that knows how to find termite nests and clear out any termite infestation once and for all.
There are a few things you can do to help prevent termites from attacking your home. You can pre-treat the wood with borax if you’re in the process of building a new home. If termites do get in, the borax in the wood will kill them.
You can also seal any possible entry points, make sure all windows and vents have screens on them and get rid of any wood debris and clutter around your home. Taking these steps doesn’t guarantee that termites won’t be a bother, but at least the risk is reduced.
There is no doubt that termites can pose a very serious problem, just like a few other general household pests. If you’ve tried all the natural methods discussed above and you still see termites in and around your home, you need to call a reputable pest control company and let them take care of the problem.