Sometimes it’s even better if your house is on fire! You know what to do, how to do and you get immediate results. On the contrary, when your household is under termite attack, it’s for sure that you won’t get immediate results and the majority of the people tend to know very less about how to get rid of termites effectively.
Termites are slow destroyers and the damage done is almost irreparable, permanent and unforgivable. So, when you’re sure that your property is infested with termites, you should start strategizing your plans to destroy those termites before it’s too late. According to a recent survey report, termites have reportedly infested over 500,000 homes in the U.S nearly.
Since you’re here reading this, you’ll be able to get a much-elaborated view of how to get rid of termites. There are always two options for killing termites, i.e. you do it yourself or you ask professionals to do it for you. However, there is no reason to panic and immediately rush to some professional as the costs would be unbelievably high!
Moreover, termites are very slow eaters (although that depends on the size of the colony) and certainly, your property won’t be ruined immediately. Again, ‘Rome was not built in a day’ and similarly, you can’t get rid of termites in a jiffy. It takes time and patience to conquer those pesky invaders.
Termite infestation should be seriously considered. The major problem is that it isn’t so easy to kill termites as it sounds. Experts say that for killing your enemies, you need to know them very well and it’s no different in the case of killing termites. More you know about termites, easier it becomes to get rid of them.
What Are Termites?
Termites are insects very small in size and eusocial just like ants and bees forming colonies of their own. They secretly invade our homes by attacking our furniture, house foundation, etc. without our knowledge.
They can easily find their food in our homes and in the process destroy our properties. Now all the termites might look the same for you and the moment you spot them, you would simply find out ways to get rid of termites but before that, you should know more about them and that would help.
Some Basic Facts About Termites
Termites are silent dwellers. They might be secretly staying for long within your property and eating up those without giving any prior sign of damage being done. Termites are detritus feeders i.e. they feed on dead and decayed dead plants or trees and woods.
Cellulose is the primary food for termites and almost all homes can provide this to the termites, thus attracting them to infest. Termites are easily attracted to furniture, wooden racks, supports, shelves, and even books or clothes.
Types Of Termites
The colonial pests are primarily of the following types:
Drywood termites are the most common type of termites which consume furniture at home. Subterranean termites are roughly estimated to comprise about 90% of the termite population in the U.S.A whereas Drywood is 10%.
They form comparatively smaller colonies and do not have a connection to the soil. You’re most likely to find them in structural woods, fence, doors or windows, etc. The plates of this type of termite have a double set of wings.
But the alates shed their wings after swarming so you might see the bodies of the swarmer without any wings. The soldier group has teeth with large mandibles. They are of a bigger size than the subterranean soldier and worker groups i.e. about 12mm in length.
You’ll most probably find them in decaying or damp wood. Even this type of termites do not have that much of a connection with the soil, they form colonies inside the damp wood itself. These are usually of 20-25mm in length with large mandibles on their front and with wings. There are no worker groups in this termite family though unlike other types.
These are by nature more damaging than any other type of termites. They establish their colonies in the soil and enter homes commonly through the foundation of the building making their way upwards. To reach their food, they form a huge network of tunnels. These termites require moisture for their survival.
Alates of this family might appear of any color ranging from dark brown to black with two pairs of wings almost equal in length. Their body length appears mostly to be 3cms approximately. The workers are smaller than the alates in length and are cream colored. The soldiers of this type are also cream colored but their heads are brown with strong jaws and no wings.
Similar to subterranean species, this one also builds colonies in the soil. But they do not require moisture often as they are able to build their structures which retain moisture. These are usually tough to identify from other termite types.
But the soldier of this termite family appears oblong at their heads, unlike the rectangular headed subterranean types. The alates do appear brownish-yellow in color, has small hairs on their wings and of 2-3 cms in length.
Termite Life Cycle
The winged male n female termites leave their colonies for reproduction. The swarming winged males n females capable of reproducing leaves the colonies and begins a mating flight and procreate. Thus, a new colony starts. n
These are white in color and ovoid in shape and are easily visible through naked eyes. The eggs laid by the queen then hatch into larvae. The larvae then grow into a worker, a soldier or a reproductive termite called alate. Each of these three types has different roles and physical appearances. The workers are responsible for the construction of the mud tunnels and also feeding other termites.
The soldiers are responsible for combating. The alates born with two pairs of wings are responsible for mating and reproducing. These are usually darker in color. The queen termites are the longest to survive with a lifespan of nearly over a decade whereas the workers and soldiers each have a lifespan of about two years at maximum.
These are of the same size that of the eggs. It takes typically a week to hatch. From this stage, the larvae go through several phases of molts and finally evolves into a member of the colony.
Characteristics And Nature Of Termites
Termites are detritus feeders. They feed on dead woods and plays a significant role in balancing nature. They are difficult to spot by human as they rarely come out in the open. Reports state that termites cause damage estimated over $5 billion every year in the U.S.A Sometimes people mistake termites as ants or flying ants and often ignore them. Source
The dry wood species of termites are very common in the southern part of U.S.A while the subterranean termites are widespread throughout the country. Drywood termites are less cold tolerant than the subterranean ones.
The subterranean termites tend to enter the property through the foundations’ cracks on the damper areas and move along whereas the dry wood ones build their colonies in damp and loose soil and create tunnels which is a sign for humans to suspect an infestation.
Flying Termites:Termites capable of reproducing fly to leave the colony and later shed their wings and starts forming a new colony. These are different from flying ants and can be identified by their straight-sided waist where ants have a constricted one.
Signs Of Termite Infestation
Before you start preparing for exterminating the termites, you need to be sure enough about termite infestation. A common way to notice such infestation is when you see winged varieties of termites trying to fly and escape your property mostly during the springtime.
Termites are capable of feeding on multiple areas like the floors, ceilings, and wooden furniture. You’ve to inspect all of these with great details because termites are hard to be identified before considerable damage already done!
Outward signs of a possible subterranean termite attack might be swollen floors, swollen ceilings clipping wood, etc. and also visible mud tunnels mostly near the foundation of the house.
Drywood species can be found inside the walls, furniture or within wooden furniture. But the damage is not visible at its early stage. While they create brown cylindrical tunnels they also leave their feces behind like small pellets also known as frass which is noticeable and confirms their presence. If you see these structure, then prepare yourself for the hunt immediately.
If you notice that paint at some areas appears cracked then it’s an indication that termites are done feeding off the interior and the damage is almost done.
Due to infestation, solid woods might sound hollow if you tap on them. Wooden supports might even fall apart if you touch them. You can also use a screwdriver to poke inside the woods or tunnels to see how much of the damage is done!
Natural Way To Kill Termites
There are several natural methods from which you can choose to get rid of termites from your property. These are:
1. Using Nematodes to kill termites:
These are actually worms that feed on the larvae of the termites and destroy the hosts. You can buy this from any local garden supply and place them in the garden but remember not to expose them under harmful UV rays.
Termites are vulnerable to heat. Thus exposing termites to strong sunlight could be your second option to kill termites. Simply exposing infested furniture under sunlight might do the trick.
3. The famous cardboard trap:
Cellulose, the primary ingredient of cardboard, attracts termite the most. You can place cardboard, preferably a damp one, near an infested area and wait for the termites. You can then burn the cardboard to get rid of the termites. But that would possibly not kill the whole colony, so you might want to repeat the process.
4. The Boric acid bait:
This is again a good way to kill termites. Boric acid directly attacks the nervous system of the termites and dehydrates their bodies. All you need to do is place wood mixed with boric acid in places where termites most possibly are present and wait. Do not forget to keep a tap on these stations regularly.
5. Using orange oil:
Orange oil is another natural way to get rid of termites. Orange oil that is extracted from orange peels if inserted in the tunnels or within the wood or furniture through the process of drilling, kills termites on contact or by starving them to ultimate death.
6. Flooding the soil:
Termites can’t swim and if the infected area can be flooded with water, it will eventually kill those termites within the soil. You can do it in some outdoor area after locating probable termite colony.
7. Termites don’t like salt:
One very easy way to get rid of termites is to pour salt into the nest and around the house covering all cracks and crevices on the walls and floors. You’ve to repeat the same within an interval of 3 months to permanently get rid of the termites.
Termites when exposed to heat above 120 Fahrenheit for more than 30 minutes, they can’t withstand the temperature and die. But in doing this, you might require professional help and a helping hand in removing all your gadgets out.
9. Aloe Vera:
You can use Aloe Vera gel with water in the ratio of 1:5 respectively and spray it in the infested area. This will kill the termites.
How To Kill Termites With Chemicals
1. Arsenic dust:
This is pretty effective as it can kill termites just when in contact. Termites in due course of time with interaction to other termites pass this poison which results in more death. But to possess this, you might need to have a license or perhaps ask a licensed person for help.
2. Permethrin dust:
Other liquid pesticides can also be used with caution and as directed. These pesticides should not get mixed with the water system which might even pollute drinking water and the treatment would also fail.
3. Bifenthrin solution:
Bifenthrin solution spray is another way to kill and also prevent termite infestation for several years. The solution comes at a very economical price. You can visit some pesticide store for it.
4. Termidor foam:
This is reportedly a very successful product in killing termites. Foams can be easily made to enter the cracks and crevices of the woods proving very effective.
5. Freezing termites with liquid nitrogen:
Termites can be frozen to death as they can’t survive at a temperature below -20 Fahrenheit.
6. Method of electrocution:
Termites can also be killed by passing electricity to them. You can get such devices from the market but you’ve to be very careful while using those. You can drill the wood in order to make this process more effective.
Cost of Termite Treatment
Cost of termite treatment depends upon several parameters. If the colony is big and you want to hire professionals, you can anywhere expect an expense of about $400 and more annually.
For heavy infestation, the price is more likely to make a bigger hole in your pocket. DIY method to kill termite would be cheaper indeed under $100. The analysis of the infestation and the choice of whether DIY or hire professionals is definitely yours.
How To Prevent Future Termite Infestation
There are several precautions you can take to keep termites away from your property.
- Surround your property with salt and sand by digging the boundaries around it. Sand will prevent them from making quick progress and salt would destroy them. Instead, you can also use chemicals like Termidor SC or Fipronil liquid solution, etc. around the perimeter of your house.
- Make sure you’re maintaining a dry apartment and avoid damps and moist areas to prevail for long.
- Seal all leaks, cracks, and crevices and remove any standing water inside as well as outside of your home. Remember, you can even get rid of mosquito larvae which also thrive in dirty standing water.
- Avoid storing wooden logs with a moisture content which attracts termites more. Remove wooden mulch or stumps. These are the main attractors for termites and even if you need this, try to store these at a distance which can limit the termite infestation at your home.
- Always keep a check on leaking faucets, pipes, wooden fences, vents and try keeping lumber or paper i.e. remove moisture and food sources away from reachable points for these crawlers.
- You can apply petroleum jelly or a mixture of white vinegar and olive oil on your dried wooden furniture and polish those to avoid termite attacks on these.
When To Call A Professional To Kill Termites?
In case you think that the property is too big for you to handle or you feel that the infestation wouldn’t be that easy for you to control, then you can contact several professionals and perhaps perform a qualitative comparison as well as price checks. Make sure you have a legal agreement in between and services like periodic checks are offered free by the service providers.