There’re many reasons why people opt for the eco-friendly termite treatments.
Some are just worried about their small kids or dogs, that can lick the surfaces covered in chemical termiticide.
Others don’t want to have any chance their pregnant wife smells residual gas after fumigation.
Plenty of people are just trying their best to be environmental responsible and not to harm the wildlife while saving their house.
Natural treatments against termites
Whatever are your reasons, I have good news for you – there’re plenty of absolutely natural ways to get rid of termites.
Here they are:
- Heat treatment.
- Natural wood treatments.
- Beneficial nematodes.
- Orange oil.
- Baiting with borax.
Why you should not just let termites stay?
You might have heard about environmental importance of the termites. They are very important in the woods for the decomposition of the dead trees. But while they are important in the wilderness, in the city they are simply a disaster. Especially if you’re facing an infestation by Formosan termites, that are the invasive species, brought to the US in 20th century.
I think you understand, that the best thing for never having to fight the termites is not letting them in. There’re some simple natural precautions that you can take, to reduce the risk of the infestation:
- Fix the plumbing. The subterranean termites are interested in moist places and making sure that there’s no unnecessary water leaks is essential.
- Make sure that no untreated wood comes in contact with the soil.
- Move away the firewood, wooden stairs and decks.
- Use termite resistant wood species, such as cedar, black walnut, cypress, redwood and others, depending on your region.
- Make sure there’s adequate ventilation in the crawl spaces under your house. The dryer the soil will be – the least chance termites will find it attractive.
- If you’re building your house, you can opt for the non-toxic physical barrier. The possible variants include sand, basalt particles and steel mesh barriers.
Though termites are wide spread insects that can be found on every continent except for Arctic, the climate they prefer is warm and tropical. So, one thing they don’t like is cold.
The cold temperatures in winter can make the termites to move out of your building temporarily and seek warmth underground in their nest. Termites that are exposed to freezing temperatures and have no way to hide, die in short time.
Cold treatment is hardly useful in case of the subterranean termites, that are only visiting a wooden structure for foraging. But the drywood termites, that are foraging and nesting in the same place can be efficiently exterminated.
There’re two ways to freeze the object properly.
First possibility is to place timber in the freezer. The size of your freezer dictates the maximum size of the object. For the protection of the wood from moist, seal it properly in a plastic bag, before cooling it down.
Second way is to chill the wood down with nitrogen. If you’re using this way, make sure you won’t damage nearby pipes and building materials.
As much as they don’t like the freezing, the termites dislike heating up. There’re different versions of heat treatment that you can do yourself or trust to professionals. To kill the termites, you need to turn up the heat to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
First and the simplest heat treatment method is simply to burn the object. Seriously, if the damage is done, the object is not precious at all and you don’t want the infestation to spread – lit the bonfire and fry some marshmallows.
If the infestation is contained in a small object, you can try to heat it up in the oven. Make sure that the piece of wood doesn’t have the paint or lacquer that can get damaged.
But, if the area of the infestation is large, or the place of the colony is unknown you can opt for the full house heat fumigation, that should be performed by professionals.
Basically, they cover the house with the tent and turn the heat up, warming up all the possible infestations at once. Of course the drawback of this method is that you have to take out all the objects that can be damaged by this temperature.
So, before you decide to do any electrocuting yourself, make sure that you’ve planned your protection properly and won’t harm yourself.
This method, as well as the two above, is mostly used against small contained drywood termite’s infestations.
For use of this method you need to know the precise location of the nest, because the electric current will not run through the wood. The area should be good for use of the electricity too; the concrete or glass might impede the process.
For the treatment you’ll need a drill and electric gun. What you’ll have to do is to drill a hole into the nest and use the gun. The voltage that is used in the process reaches up to 90,000 volts, so you should proceed with the execution with extreme caution.
Remember, that the electrocution might be a green termite fighting method, but it’ also one of the most dangerous for people though not because of its toxicity.
Natural wood treatments
There plenty of absolutely natural termiticides. One of the most famous ones is an orange oil.
Orange oil is an extract from the orange peels that contains D-limonene, that is an insecticide working against not only termites but also crickets, mosquitoes and mites. It kills the termites, they are dying from the loss of water and protein.
The easiest way to use the orange oil is to inject it into the holes, made by termites themselves or specially drilled. Most of the termites will be killed on contact, the rest will die later from the residual effect, that makes the insects to stop feeding, making them die of hunger. It can also be applied with the mist spray, but this will be more useful as a preventive treatment.
There’re 8 different essential oils that have proved to have natural termiticide qualities:
- Clove bud.
- Cedar wood.
- Eucalyptus globules and citrodor.
The best repellent action belongs to vetiver oil and clove bud is the most toxic, according to chemical research. The application method can be the same as the one for the orange oil.
Nematodes are tiny parasitic worm-like creatures, that allegedly are capable of killing the termites.
The idea is that you spread this parasite around the garden, they find the termites and kill all of them, meeting no resistance.
Now, there’re some points that make this remedy a questionable one:
- It is a fact that the nematodes kill the termites, if they are locked up together in a jar. But their ability to search the whole area around the house and kill thousands of termites is not proven.
- Though some pest exterminators are ready to give a guarantee on nematodes, the major operators are not using this method.
Baiting with Borax
Baiting, generally, consists of two stages.
First will be the prebating. At this stage what you have is the plastic boxes, that contain cardboard or other cellulose material with the special termite monitoring window on top.
This stakes you need to install around the house or structure, that has to be protected, with the distance no more than 2-3 feet in between. It’s most important to place the stakes at the moist areas, as they are very attractive for the drywood termites.
At this time the baits are absolutely non-toxic neither for the people, nor for environment. Best is if you are doing this as a preventive treatment, though the baiting will help to fight the infestation as well.
Now, all you have to do is to check your baits now and then, to see if there’s any termite activity going on.
The monitors will help you to determine if activity is constant. When you see that termites are visiting the stake regularly – it’s time to poison the apple.
Often the chemicals that are used for this treatment are the strong ones, such as Spectracide or Termidor. Actually, even this infamously toxic chemicals in form of baits are rather harmless. But if you want to have a minimal risk of any hazard, you can use the borax powder.
Boric acid, though also a man made termiticide is considered to be the eco-friendliest of them all. So, once you add the termiticide inside the baits, the termite workers, that forage the cellulose, will take it and bring to the nest to share. Slowly but surely you will have the colony exterminated. Or at least dramatically reduced in size.
If you interested in more information of termites we recommend you to read the following articles:
- All types of termites. Are they harmful to humans? Can they bite you? And what is the difference between drywood and subterranean ones?
- What does swarmers of different species look like: drywood, subterranean, formosan?
- Signs of infestation outside and in the house: in walls or furniture.
- What does termite holes look like? What is droppings and is it toxic to humans? Do termites make noises?
- Posible termite damage, how does it look like? Examples of damage in walls and wood floors.
- All about flying termites: how do they look like, swarming season and what to do if there are swarmers in your house?
- How do they do nests and mounds? How to find it in your garden or inside the house?
- Termite life cycle – from egg to larvae. And social hierarchy: workers, soldiers, queen.
- Did you know that termites can infest living trees, for example a palm or a pine tree. They also like to live in stumps.
- You can prevent the infestation by using barriers, such as: HomeGuard, Safeguard, Kordon.
Eco-friendly and environmentally responsible termite treatments might not be the most efficient in our times, but they guarantee you won’t be blaming yourself for damage to the wildlife or your kid’s health. Use them alone, or combine with chemical treatments – the choice is yours.