How to Get Rid of Termites Yourself and with Professional Help

Learn what causes a termite infestation, best ways to get rid of termites and how to prevent the infestation from ever happening again
By
Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
reviewed
Reviewed By
Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: January 06, 2023
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Termite invasions can be a genuine problem for homes because some invasions result in considerable, long-lasting damage. These bugs will establish a colony within a house, consuming and ruining the wood.

Over 3000 termite species exist, and around 50 are found in the United States. They consume and recycle dead plants and wood, which is a crucial ecological function, but they also cause more than $1 billion worth of property destruction annually. Your greatest first move as a householder is to inform yourself on how to get rid of termites because all residences are constructed using some amount of wood-based substances.

It’s critical to act fast if you suspect termites that may be present in your home. You’ll be able to tell when they take control thanks to telltale indications like wood that sounds hollow and mud tubes. Being cautious pays off because termites can inflict significant ruin before seeing them.

Termites vs. Ants

How to Get Rid of Termites Yourself and with Professional Help

It is important to know whether your home has an ant or termite infestation. Since both flying ants and termites have antennae and wings, the two are frequently confused.

However, flying ants do not generally do as much destruction as termites. Most households can tackle the task of eliminating flying ants since they are simpler to control.

The following are some ways to identify termites:

  • Subterranean termite swarmers have dark bodies and white, nearly transparent wings. Their worker termites are cream-colored and lack wings. Although they can be found in almost all states, warmer regions seem to have more of them.
  • Compared to the other two varieties, Dampwood termites are bigger. Nymphs are of a cream tone, although they can also be dark, bright, or crimson. Typically, western locations like Washington and Montana are home to these termites.
  • Drywood termites typically shed two sets of their darker, veined wings, which give them a browner appearance. Although most colonies are lesser, Drywood colonies can number in the thousands. In addition to other sunnier coastal states like California, they are frequently found in North Carolina.

The next section gives a broader detail about different species of termites, their characteristics, and where they can be found.

Common Species of Termites

Since termites are all insects, they have three primary body sections and six legs. However, termites are exceptional in their capacity to harm and deteriorate structures.

Dampwood Termites

This species likes to feed on damp wood, as its name suggests, especially wood that is broken or in direct touch with the floor. Typically, Dampwood termites are drawn to logs, lumber, and stumps.

Drywood Termites

These termites obtain all the moisture they require from the wood they devour. They can enter a house through furniture or exposed wood and even make holes in dry wood above the ground. The consequent harm could be severe and pervasive. If your home is infested, keep reading to learn how to get rid of drywood termites.

Formosan Termites

This species, introduced to the United States in the 1940s, is arguably the most deadly. The Formosan enters dwellings through timber that comes into contact with the ground, and unprotected joints or fissures make entry simple. This insect, believed to multiply more quickly and devour more timber than other species, is practically drawn to moist timber and damp soil.

Subterranean Termites

The subterranean termite species, which may be found all over the U.S. mainland, favors warm, humid weather. As suggested by its name, this species dwells under the ground surrounding and beneath houses.
The mud tubes they construct to link the earth with the wood serve as entrances to the structures. Subterranean termites can fully destroy a building given enough time.

Termite Lifecycle and Seasonal Behavior

Termites develop from an egg to a nymph to an adult. The nymphs then divide into one of the numerous castes during several molts. Depending on the amount of food available, the colony’s vigor, and the temperature, this could take many months. There are various kinds (castes) of termites within a colony, including a king, queen, soldiers, workers, and occasionally, reproductives. For the survival and upkeep of the colony, each caste has distinct roles to play that are based on structural differences.

As the temperature rises, termites retreat to their comfortable environments. Winged termites start breeding and scouting locations for new colonies in the summer and spring. When it rains during the summer, swarmers may likely take to the air, albeit usually not more than 100m from where they originally lived.

Sadly, termite behavior doesn’t significantly change over the winter. Although the Subterraneans will often burrow farther underground, other termites’ feeding and behavior are not much affected by the mild winters in the South.

In actuality, the queen’s egg production usually continues with minor changes. This indicates that termite activity will probably stay the same, particularly in warmer areas.

What Harm Do Termites Do

While most people are familiar with the damage that termites can do to homes, few realize the full extent of the harm these pests can cause. In addition to causing structural damage, termites can also contaminate food sources, spread diseases, and trigger allergic reactions in some people. Some of the most common ways that termites cause harm include:

Damage to Your Home’s Structural Wood

For some termite species, moisture is a necessity for survival. The subterranean specie is one good example of this. Subterranean termites frequently remain in damp soil and establish colonies there. They can affect the wood used as the home’s basis in places like the basement or the foundational walls. Destruction in these regions can be costly because it is hard to fix and frequently affects other parts of your home. Reviews have shown that a unique approach to effectively managing difficult-to-reach places without having to get there yourself is by using pesticides like the BioAdvanced 700420A that works well for both termites and carpenter bees.

Deterioration of the Wood Trim On Your Doors And Windows

Your home has wood in many places that are difficult to check. This applies to the wood in your attic, walls, and foundation. You must be deliberate about setting aside time to enter the attic or crawl beneath the house if you wish to look out for termite infestation in these places. You may readily look for termite infestation in other wood-structured portions of your home whenever you wish. The wood frame of your doors and windows is one of these areas. Doors and windows are typically installed in homes using wood frames by builders. Termite damage can be seen in wood that appears weak, is hollow when hit, or is wavy.

Damage to the Interior Wood of Your Home

If you don’t get rid of them, termites that begin feeding on the wood beneath your house may eventually travel into your walls. Some termites will even destroy the wood furnishings and other components of your house. These termites are known as “dry wood termites” and do not require moisture contact like subterranean termites.

Signs of Termite Infestation

How to Get Rid of Termites Yourself and with Professional Help

Here are some signs that termites have invaded your house:

  • Mud tubes: To link the timber they consume to the soil, subterranean termites build their “highways” out of the mud. These wooden and soil-based mud tubes are roughly the width of a pencil. If you see them, you’ve got termites; if not, you’re still not free of them because some species, like the Drywood, do not need a mud tube to access your wood.
  • Hollow wood: Tap softly on your wood; if you hear a hollow sound, you’ve got termites.  To further examine your wood, use a screwdriver. If your wood gives in easily when you push a screwdriver into it, that’s surely a bad sign.
  • Head banging: You might notice an odd clicking noise within your walls. This is because soldier termites would shake their bodies and bang their heads on the wood to warn other termites of a threat. Don’t attempt to get rid of the termites in the wall by stumping out the wood; you’d only end up causing more damage to your furniture.
  • Swarm proof: Subterranean termites discard their wings when they start a new colony, usually in piles. Termites may be the source of any strewn-about wings.
  • Wearing off paint: Termites destroy drywall by allowing moisture to seep between the paint and the wall’s surface, leading to paint bubbles or peeling. Although there are numerous reasons why your paint could sag, if you notice this and other symptoms, you might have termites.
  • Frass: Termite droppings or frass may appear as minute, granular oval particles on your walls and doors, baseboards, or windowsills.
  • Live termites: There’s a chance you might run into some flying termites. It’s critical to tell them apart from flying insects so you can identify the problem. You don’t want to think you’re getting rid of a flying termite when it’s a less harmful insect.

How to Get Rid of Termite Infestation

If you’ve discovered an infestation, here are some methods you can look into. You may not be able to get rid of termites naturally, so most of the methods are simple DIY techniques. There are many techniques that, when applied consistently, can keep termites away from weak points in your house without resorting to poison.

Also, remember that termite nests, especially Subterraneans, can spread so deeply underneath that only a professional can effectively eradicate them.

Cardboard-based Traps

How to Get Rid of Termites Yourself and with Professional Help

Given that cardboard is manufactured from wood, placing damp cardboard in a region where you think termites could be active might help you attract them.  They can then be destroyed once they have gathered on the cardboard. This technique will need close monitoring because you’ll need to get rid of the paperboard as soon as you notice termites assembling rather than allowing them to grow and fester. For an all-encompassing strategy for pest management, Spectracide Terminate Termite Detection and Killing Stakes offer one of the first pesticides that also get rid of fleas.

Nematodes

Termites and other pests are parasitized by microscopic worms called beneficial nematodes. Nematodes discharge a bacterium when they are inside a termite’s digestive tract, which ends up killing the host. Nematodes can be used to kill termites by working them into the land close to a termite territory. These worms, readily available to buy both in-person and online, are typically a very affordable way to get rid of termites in your yard.

Borax

This is a tried-and-true home remedy for pests like termites. For instance, boric acid or any product containing sodium borate, which kills termites by damaging their nervous systems, can be extremely effective. You can make a borax DIY paste formula, which you can use on your wooden furniture.

Essential Oils

Termites can also be eliminated using substances like neem (produced by an Indian evergreen tree) or orange oil. By stopping them from producing eggs or shells, these oils slowly kill insects. Orange and neem oils kill termites when applied directly to their bodies, so pay attention to infestations and apply the oils to any burrows, timber surfaces, and other materials that are infested.

Diatomaceous Earth

How to Get Rid of Termites Yourself and with Professional Help

Diatomaceous earth, made of silica, erodes termite’s exoskeletons and causes dehydration. It will kill existing termites and deter new infestations if you sprinkle them on affected regions and around your home’s foundation. Some experts advise using nutritional diatomaceous earth, which is non-toxic to animals and humans and can also serve as a supplementary diet.

Getting Professional Help

Even if you only spot termites in your yard far from your home, you should still contact a professional. A nesting location might be much nearer to your house than you imagine, and colonies could be enormous. Have regular professional termite safety checks to inspect for evidence of termite intrusion and carry out any required “spot” treatments, even when you don’t see any termites.

Termite-specific professional pest services know where colonies are, how much damage has been done, and where entry points are. They often apply several remedies to combat termites, such as placing insecticide-laced bait traps in key locations around your yard and spraying insecticides on your house.

Depending on the needs of your property, some treatments involve drilling holes into outer walls to introduce a chemical shield inside the framework of your house: an area that is difficult to reach with DIY remedies. In extreme circumstances, a pest management firm may use fluoride-based sulfur or other pesticides for a full-house treatment or employ the extensive termite tenting approach.

How to Prevent Termite Infestation

Making your houses less appealing to termites can help you keep them out. It’s always more beneficial to avoid a termite invasion in the first place than to battle with the results. The best part is that you have access to a variety of easy preventative measures you can employ to avert any potential termite issues in the future, the majority of which revolve around inspecting the exterior of your home and maintaining a tidy lawn.

  • To avoid dampness around the exterior of your building, ensure that your downspouts and gutters are in good working order and that the ground slopes away from the building.
  • Keep track of any areas where water collects after rain. Ensure to patch any holes in your lawn or take the necessary measures to level it out if you observe areas where water is accumulating. Termites frequently gather in these types of pools.
  • Inspect your gutters regularly and remove any foliage or other debris that may obstruct water flow or soak up moisture.
  • Your foundation should be patched up if there are any cracks, and the holes where pipelines and amenities pass should be thoroughly caulked, grouted, or cement.

FAQ

How hard is it to get rid of termites?

Termite removal is difficult for the typical do-it-yourself homeowner. A reproductive worker can develop into a queen and restart the colony even if one survives a predatory attack or professional pest treatment.

What methods should I avoid when getting rid of termites?

  • Domestic chemicals: It is useless to indiscriminately pour bleach, home cleansers, large quantities of insecticides, or other chemical substances into the soil. Under the soil, where the insecticides can’t get to them, there are hundreds more termites.
  • Motor Fluid: it’s unlawful to dump discarded or unused motor oil. It offers little long-term defense against termites. Additionally, it contaminates the soil, which eventually reaches groundwater.
  • Fire: It is never smart to set a termite nest on fire. Smoking or burning them out is also not a good idea. You risk burning your properties and causing more damage than good to your home.

Do termites come back after treatment?

You are at risk of further termite infestations if you have already experienced one. This is so because, despite treatments, termites cannot be completely eradicated. Your chances of experiencing a termite reinfestation vary depending on various variables, including your residence’s construction and current preventative efforts. Even with the best techniques, you may not be able to get rid of termites permanently.

Final Thoughts

The above-described preventative measures and treatment procedures are beneficial to use as a part of an overall treatment approach to eliminate termites. You can still research how to get rid of termites if you want more options. In all your research, however, note that even under ideal conditions, only a tiny portion of termites would be eliminated by do-it-yourself techniques, allowing scores of thousands to replace them.

This is why your best bet should be to get the services of skilled termite control firms with past proven records of effective termite eradication techniques.

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