Of all the pests a homeowner can encounter, termites are the absolute worst. There are few insects or pests more damaging than termites, because termites can destroy your house’s foundation, and they can do it in just a few years.
If termites have invaded your property, you will need to put together a full plan of attack to get rid of them. Termites mean war, and you will have to track down the infestation and use various methods to get rid of the problem. If your infestation is moderate to severe, chances are you will have to call an exterminator.
If termites are causing you problems, don’t put off getting rid of them. They can do a lot of damage in a short time, and half measures or procrastination will only lead to bigger problems. In this article, you will learn how to tell if you have termites, how to get rid of termites, and how to make sure the pests never enter your home again.
What Are Termites?
Termites are insects that don’t come out into the open, and that makes them difficult to detect. Known as the “silent destroyers,” the colony pests measure about one centimeter in length, and their feeding habits can cause major property damage.
It is easy to mistake termites for ants, but termites have straight antennae, uniform waists, and wings of equal size. Ants, on the other hand, have elbowed antennae, constricted waists, and forewings that are longer than their hind wings.
Termites feed on detritus (dead plants and trees) and a part of wood called cellulose. But they can damage everything from insulation to swimming pool liners. Any home, regardless of construction type, contains cellulose food for termites. Feeding sites include foundations, decks, furniture, and even books.
Termites tend to swarm in the spring and late summer, but they are a year-round threat. And one colony of termites has an average of about three million members.
How To Tell If You Have Termites
There are a few warning signs that indicate you might have a termite problem:
Cracked Or Bubbling Paint
Termites feed off the interior of a structure, and as they approach the surface, paint will start to crack or bubble. There could also be frass (termite waste) in the bubble, and the walls of your home could start to crack in an odd way.
A Swarm Of Winged Insects
Whether they are in your house and trying to escape, swarming in cabinets, near a light source, or coming from the soil around your home, a swarm of winged insects is the most common sign of a termite infestation.
Wood That Sounds Hollow
If you tap on solid wood and there is a slight echo from sound vibration, that is a bad sign. Termites will carve out the interior of a cellulose item while leaving the outer structure intact.
Termite tubes are different from hornet or wasp tubes. Instead of staying in one place, they will spread on exterior walls, down into crawl spaces, or on wooden beams.
Drywood termites leave behind fecal matter while they eat your home’s wood. These droppings, also known as frass, are pellet-shaped and look like heavy grains of sand. If you find mounds of droppings around your home, it is likely you have a termite infestation.
If you find discarded wings all over the house — especially when spring turns to summer — it is an indication that termites have invaded.
How To Get Rid Of Termites
There are different ways to get rid of termites both indoors and in your yard. Some of the methods can get a little gruesome, but they are necessary to get rid of the entire infestation.
DIY Cardboard Traps
To catch termites that are living in a specific area of your home, you can make your own indoor cardboard or wood traps. Simply take two cardboard strips or absorbent wood strips and soak them in water before stacking them and putting them near the infested area. Leave them out for a night or two, and the dampness will attract the termites. Once the trap has dried out, dispose of it as far away from your home as possible. You could also burn the trap.
Repeat this process until no more termites show up on your trap.
This method will kill hundreds of termites. However, since colonies tend to have thousands, if not millions of termites, you will need to use the traps along with other methods to eliminate the infestation.
The chemical compound D-limonene in orange rinds is a killer of drywood termites, which are the most common termites found inside homes. You can either buy orange oil or D-limonene by itself. Either way, it is an effective method for getting rid of termites.
Since you can’t coat your entire house in orange oil, this method works best when you know where a termite hub is located. Simply drill some holes into the wood where the termites live and spray the orange oil through the holes to kill the termites.
Nematodes can help resolve termite problems in your yard. Beneficial nematodes (unsegmented worms) are natural parasites that feed on pests like termites. They search for hosts and burrow into them, and it only takes about 48 hours for the host to die. You can find nematodes in your local garden supply store or online, and you’ll want to use this option immediately after purchasing the nematodes.
Termites hate the sun and thrive in darkness. If you have wooden items that termites have infested, move them outside into direct sunlight. The heat from the sun will eventually kill them, though it will take about two to three days to do the job.
Liquid Termite Barrier
This method kills the termites that are already in your house, and it also prevents new termites from entering. Termites can’t detect it, and that means they can’t avoid it. You will need to use this method around your home’s foundation as well as wooden structures, wood piles, or tree stumps.
Termites can spread the liquid solution by contact, so a single termite can infect an entire colony because the liquid termite barrier is slow-acting.
To use this method, simply create a solution using one gallon of water and 0.8 ounces of Termidor. Then dig a six-inch-by-six-inch trench around your foundation and spray the solution into the trench with a high-quality sprayer.
If you use this method correctly, there is a good chance that you will kill the entire colony. And one application can last for years. However, this method can be time consuming and expensive, since it can take hundreds of gallons of solution to cover your home’s perimeter.
Getting rid of termites can be costly. You might try all of these DIY methods and still not get rid of the entire infestation. Sometimes, it is best to simply call a pest-control professional and have them come check out the problem. They will be able to pinpoint the location of the termite colonies and give you an idea of how big the problem is.
In the long run, this method may be the most cost effective. Plus, you won’t have to do anything yourself.
Since termite treatments can be so expensive and time consuming, it is worth taking steps to prevent infestations. You can’t remove all of the wood in your home, but removing the termites’ food source as much as you can is a great first step in prevention.
First, remove mulch and wood debris around your house, and stack firewood at least 20 feet from your house. Also, remove leaves from your gutters and drains.
Then reduce the moisture levels in your home. Termites need water to survive, so leaky faucets, roofs, and gutters need to be repaired. Good airflow and ventilation also help to reduce moisture levels, and proper drainage will keep rainwater away from your house. Be sure to seal off cracks and holes in your foundation to close access points.
Finally, don’t be afraid to contact a professional to help you put together a prevention plan. This is a great post-treatment option or standalone prevention measure.
Now that you know how to get rid of termites, plus how to detect and prevent them, you can use this knowledge to protect your home from these nasty pests.