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How to Control Termites Naturally

Updated on November 8, 2013
Oh no! Termites!
Oh no! Termites! | Source

No homeowner ever thinks, “Yes! I’ve got termites.” In fact, these critters rank up there with the class of insect pests people love to hate. I mean, what the heck to they do? Bees make honey, and pollenate flowers. Ladybugs eat those bugs who like to feast on your houseplants. Crickets feed your kid brother’s pet lizard. So, what the heck is the point of a termite?

Termites are designed by nature to devour dead trees in the forest. They are gaga over cellulose, a component found in wood. Unfortunately, termites cannot tell the difference between a dead tree in the forest, and firewood. It’s all food to them.

Growing concerns over the environment, and long-term effects of chemical pesticides, have motivated homeowners to seek more organic ways to manage termite infestations. These methods are not a myth. They do exist. With patience, a can-do attitude, and several viewings of Lord of the Rings, you can learn how to control termites naturally. Keep reading to learn more.

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Learn more about Termites with this Book

Termites Are My Friend?

There’s no medium in existence that has ever painted termites in a positive light. Seriously! I challenge you to find a book, poem, article, TV show, or film that sings the praises of nature’s Death Eater.

A Google search will tell you that we should laud the termite because it helps keep our forests clean from dead, rotting trees that would otherwise create eyesores during our annual camping trips. Termites chomp into the dearly departed timber to facilitate a process that cleans woods, and enriches soil. Cue Snow White singing a melodious rendition of “What a Wonderful World” to Thumper, Bambi, and Flower.

Yes, yes, yes, I get it. Termites benefit us. Unfortunately, like the Great White Shark, these insects have a difficult time discerning between what’s cool to eat (a school of fish), and what’s not cool to eat (hot Australian surfers). Therefore, your perfectly constructed deck looks real tasty to termites. And once they come, they’ll come in numbers. Damage could range in the thousands of dollars, and decrease the value of a home.

Frustration can motivate a home owner to go Rambo with all types of pesticides, many of which may be harmful to the environment. And these days, everyone is all about the environment. So if you find yourself the lucky victim of an invasion, you can use ways to control termites naturally without breaking the bank, or becoming an ungreen menace to society.

How to Identify Termites

Make Life Unpleasant

Termites must live in an environment that is moist and warm. Typically, this is in an underground termite bunker. The critters are like delicate little flowers that dry up when conditions are not ideal. To prolong their existence, termites build intricate tunnels from their nest to their food source.

Your first line of defense against termites is to destroy the nest, obviously. But, it is also important to destroy their tunnels. Get in there and go nuts. Keep digging up any breeding grounds or tunnels. When you make their lives unpleasant often enough, they’ll start contemplating relocation. Just continually inspect the area to ensure that your frenemies have packed up and left. If you’re cursed with the persistent kind of vermin, it will be time to move on to plan B.

Termite Nest / Mound
Termite Nest / Mound

Plan B: Deploy Weapons of Natural Destruction

Carpenter Ants

There are a few options with this tactic. The first one is sending in the carpenter ants. Carpenter ants and termites hate each other. Both like to live in decaying wood. However, carpenter ants are just in it for the scenery. They don’t actually eat the wood. In fact, carpenter ants eat dead insects, so dried up termites look delicious to this bunch. With these two types of insects in the same area, prepare for a battle much akin to Orcs and Men fighting over Middle Earth. I think you can guess who the Orcs are (if you can’t, the ants are the Orcs). Once the ants are successful, you might have another insect infestation on your hands. So, it is important to weigh the pros and cons before shipping in tiny black death. Do you want termites, or do you want ants?

Black carpenter ants
Black carpenter ants | Source

Beneficial Nematodes

The other option with this tactic is nematodes. Beneficial nematodes are wormy parasites that wiggle themselves into the termite’s body. Once situated, they release a bacteria that kills their hosts within a few days. The good news is that this can be an effective alternative to pesticides. The bad news is that this method might be ineffective with a bustling, thriving termite nest. If the nematode warriors you use turn are unsuccessful, at least feel good that you tried to control termites naturally without chemicals. And, don’t hesitate to use the final natural termite control frontier.

Nematode worms serving as a natural insecticide.
Nematode worms serving as a natural insecticide. | Source

The Final Natural Termite Control Frontier

Your termites’ defense at front line is inexplicably good. The accursed, wood-chomping critters seem to be rebuilding nest tunnels at exponential rates. The carpenter ants have suffered major casualties, and the nematodes are out of bacteria juice. Finally, you get to apply some good stuff. For this task, there are a few organic pesticides proven to control termites naturally.

Orange Oil and Neem Oil

Orange oil and neem oil seem to work best at the food source. You can also use the oils on the actual insects. Orange oil is effective on termites that live in dry wood, but not necessarily those living in the underground bunker. Neem oil is effective against either type of termite. The problem with these two natural pesticides is that they won’t destroy the whole colony. In most cases, you’ll have to use boric acid, too.

Boric Acid

Boric acid is the other natural pesticide. It is extremely potent in destroying termites all the way to the royal highnesses King and Queen Termite. It is sold in a white powder form in stores. What makes this compound so effective is that it is absorbed into wood fibers once applied by hopeful homeowners. The termites track the powder back to their colony after they’ve had their feast. Then, everybody gets a taste. It spreads like the Plague. Victory is yours. The Dark Lord has been defeated by good, and now you get to drink lots of ale back at the Shire. Nothing like being Fellowship-wasted.

Make Your Own Natural Termite Repellent

Celebrate, but . . .

Don’t fall victim to the Dark Lord again. Keep random pieces of wood cleaned up around the house. Treat any wood areas on the house that touch soil, like porches or decks, so that termites will find them disgusting to eat. Keep piles of firewood off the ground. Make sure gutters and drains don’t create muddy or moist areas around wood structures. Don’t let basements or crawl spaces under the house become wood storage central. If termites are persistent, you can always call a termite control service.

And for goodness sake, go ahead and build that tree house you promised your kids. That wood has been piled up out back since they were in grammar school. No wonder you had termite armies invade your home. They wanted the Precious.

Got lots of woods? Build a tree house for your kids. Don't feed the termites.
Got lots of woods? Build a tree house for your kids. Don't feed the termites. | Source

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    • profile image

      dee maharaj 

      2 years ago

      the area we live in was sugar cane plantation farms.i have been clearing dead wood n where ever they crawl into.they only in the yard n garden can anyone help me with advise me on how to, and what to use to do it myself thanks

    • Arco Hess Designs profile image

      Arco Hess 

      4 years ago from Kansas City, Kansas

      I'm living in a tropical place, no wonder why we get termites so easily since they love moist and warm areas. They absolutely love to eat our bamboo furniture.

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