How to Get Rid of Termites

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No one wants to share their space with uninvited guests, and that includes insects. That’s especially true if you have a termite problem. 

Termites are small, and they don’t really bother people too much, so we usually don’t notice them moving in and making themselves at home. They also tend to make their home in places we don’t see very often, like inside the walls, or in your floors, roof and basement. So, unlike other pests like mice or rats, it might be a while before you notice the problem. 

Unfortunately, by the time you realize you have a termite problem, there’s a good chance they’ve already created a fairly large colony. So, when you’re asking the question how to get rid of termite, you probably want to add “as soon as possible!” Here’s what you need to know about how to get rid of termites, and when you might need to call a professional to help. 

Establish That They Are Termites

The first thing you need to do when you’re figuring out how to get rid of termites is make sure that they are actually termites. Many other insects, including flying ants, look very similar to termites, so if you’re not completely sure what type of insect you’re dealing with, you might need some help. Try to catch a few of the insects you’ve discovered or look for dead insects that you can use for identification purposes. 

A professional exterminator or any insect specialist should be able to confirm whether you’re dealing with termites or something else. There are other insects, like carpenter ants, that also like to snack on woodwork, and to the untrained eye, it can be hard to know exactly what you’re looking at. 

Figure Out What Type of Termite You’re Dealing With

In the United States, there are two main types of termites: subterranean termites and dry wood termites. 

As the name suggests, subterranean termites live under the ground as well as in the wood in homes and other buildings, and dry wood termites live only in wood. 

Dry wood termites are mainly found in coastal, warm places like Texas, Florida and Georgia, while subterranean termites are found throughout the United States. So, if you’re reading this in Texas, you could be dealing with either type of termite. 

There is one other type of termite that is found in the United States, called damp wood termites. However, these are only found in the pacific northwest and Florida, so if you’re in Texas, you almost certainly won’t be dealing with those. 

A good exterminator or an insect specialist at a local university should be able to tell you what kind of termite you’re dealing with. Even a picture of a dead termite can help a professional pest control company to identify the type of termite you have.

Figure Out Where the Termites Have Set Up Their Colony

Once you know for sure that you are dealing with termites, and what kind they are, the next thing to establish is where they are. 

If you have a subterranean termite problem, there’s a good chance you will be able to see evidence of them in the dirt around your home. Look for tunnels and other evidence of termites moving the dirt near your foundations. That’s most likely where the termites have found their way into your home. 

Other kinds of termite will be in your woodwork, and while they could be anywhere, often they’re in quieter, sometimes damper places like basements and attic or roof spaces. 

Look for any woodwork that is weakened or damaged, and signs of termite droppings. These look a little like wood shavings and should be near the damaged wood. 

Wood that has been attacked by termites will be much softer, and if you can push a screwdriver or similar tool into the wood, that’s a sure sign you probably have a termite infestation. 

How Many Termites Are We Talking About?

When you hear the term “termite problem” you might be thinking of a few hundred or even a couple of thousand termites. However, most subterranean termites in the US have colonies that are between 60,000 and 1 million individuals. That’s a lot of insects, and the longer they stay, the bigger the colony will get. 

Other types of termites can have similar sized colonies, and unless you catch them early, it doesn’t take very long for colonies to breed and multiply out of control! 

If you live in an area that is known for termites, make a point of regularly inspecting your home, and keep your eyes peeled for any signs that termites have moved in. 

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

The first thing you should know about how to get rid of termites is that it’s always best to avoid having them in the first place. 

Since termites tend to like parts of your home that are moist and filled with wood, pay special attention to places like roofs and basements, and make sure you don’t have too much moisture there. 

You can also treat wood in your home with chemicals that repel termites, so they never actually move into your space. 

Even after you have removed a termite colony from your home, you still need to take precautions, so they don’t come back. So make sure you address any problems that are making your home more attractive to termites, and that you treat wood and other substances termites like to eat and nest in with chemicals to keep them out. 

Don’t stack wood piles next to your home’s walls, and make sure that your foundations are secure and treated for termites, so that you don’t get an invasion of subterranean termites from your garden! 

You can also get a product called permethrin, that you can add directly to paint, varnish, wallpaper paste and other materials in your home. This will make these products themselves termite repellents and make your home a lot less attractive to these little insects! 

Spend some time sealing up windows, doors and other areas of your home where termites might be getting in and invest in professional grade repellent products to treat the outside of your home on a regular schedule. If your home does not smell or taste good to termites, they’re a lot less likely to move in, and that means you won’t have to worry about how to get rid of termites in future. 

How to Get Rid of Termites – Strategies and Tips

Now that we’ve covered the things you should do before you start working to rid your home of termites, the next thing you need to know is how to get rid of termites. There are many different strategies, products and tips out there, so we’ve collected them all here, so you can try the ones that seem best suited to your situation. So let’s find out how to get rid of termites! 

Use Worms! 

If you have subterranean termites, there is a type of worm known as a “beneficial nematode” that is harmless to people, but parasitic to termites. They burrow into termites and termite larvae and use them as a food source. It sounds pretty gross, but the result is that the termites die within 48 hours, so it’s a great way to get rid of an outdoor colony fast! 

These kinds of worms are actually sold at many garden supply stores, and they should only be used in the spring or summer, when the temperature is above 60 Fahrenheit. Make sure you protect them from harsh sunlight by using them in the cooler morning or evening hours and keep them in the refrigerator until you can apply them to the are the termites are making their home. 

Predatory worms might not sound like something you want to get into, but this is one of the best natural solutions to how to get rid of termites, if you have subterranean termites! 

When the termites are gone, the worms will leave too, so you don’t have to worry about a garden full of scary worms either!

Use Sunlight

If you have a termite problem in something that can be moved, like wooden furniture, you could try getting rid of them by exposing them to direct, hot sunlight. 

Usually, it takes a few days of sunlight to get termites to abandon their home, and after they’re gone, be sure to do any repairs and treat the piece with a termite repellent to prevent them from coming back.

Or Freeze Them! 

Termites don’t like hot sun, but they also don’t like freezing cold. 

If the item that has a termite infestation is small enough to fit into a freezer (and you have one that has the space!) you could try freezing it for a few days. 

Termites are hardy little creatures, but they can’t withstand subzero temperatures for very long, so if you can do this, you can definitely kill all the termites on the piece. Again, treat it afterwards with a termite repellent product to stop them coming back. 

Get Rid of It! 

Sometimes, termites move into a movable piece like furniture or a trunk or something else. If it doesn’t have any intrinsic or sentimental value, and they’ve already done some damage, it might be simpler to just get rid of the item or items completely. The more termites you can get out of your home, the better! 

Build a Termite Trap

Termites eat wood because it has cellulose in it, which is basically the fibers that make up plants. Cardboard is another easily accessible product that contains a lot of cellulose, and you can use it to build
termite traps, if you’re still wondering how to get rid of termites. 

Layer several strips of damp cardboard together, attach them together with tape or staples, and then place the stack near the termite nest in your home. 

Leave it there for several days, and then take it outside, to a safe place, and burn it to kill the termites that have moved in. You might have to repeat this several times, and you should know that this won’t remove large colonies of termites. At best, you can expect to get a couple of hundred termites every time you do this. 

Use Boric Acid

Boric acid is one of the most common ingredients in termite repellent and termiticide products. The easiest way to use it, when you’re wondering how to get rid of termites, is to buy commercially available bait stations or other products that you can use in and around your home. 

Make sure that you always follow any manufacturer’s direction when using these products too, because even these kinds of chemicals can be a safety hazard. 

Use Other Termite Products

If you go to any hardware store and ask them how to get rid of termites, there’s a good chance they will have a whole section with sprays, powders and other products that you can use to get rid of termites, and prevent them from coming into your home, and keep them gone when they’re removed. 

Speak to the salesperson at the hardware store to find the product or product that is most likely to work for the type of termite you have, and the place or places they’ve made their home. They will probably be able to tell you one or two products that will work for you. 

Or Essential Oils

Essential oils are another natural option to get rid of termites. Orange and neem oils both inhibit the ability of termite eggs and larvae to mature, and if they can’t become adults, the colony will die. 

These oils need to be diluted, usually at a ratio of two cups of water to 10 drops of oil (but read the instructions on the oil you buy!) and then it is sprayed into areas where termites are making their home. 

Or Try Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder that is made from a rock. It’s very dry, and it attract moisture, so when you sprinkle it around a termite infested area, it will cause them to dehydrate or desiccate and die. 

Try Multiple Strategies

Unfortunately, like many insects, termites are very hardy and resourceful creatures, and it takes a lot to get rid of them once they’ve moved in and built a sizeable colony. 

It’s unlikely that only one of these strategies will work, and you will probably have to try many different things until you find something that works. Start with the least invasive options and work your way through the recommendations until you find the right mix of treatments to get rid of your termite problem. 

When to Call a Professional

Unfortunately, if you’ve had termites for a while, they could very well have built a colony that includes thousands, tens of thousands, or even millions of individuals. 

Even if you try every tip and trick on this list, it very likely will not be enough to get those termites out of your home forever. So it might be time to call a professional. Here are a few tips to get the best service from the pest control specialists in your area:

  • Contact several companies for quotes – you should never get only one quote for anything you have to do around your home, and hiring a professional to get rid of termites is no different
  • Ask the pest control companies you’re talking to to visit your home and inspect the areas that you think you might have a termite problem – they might be able to identify other areas of concern, and this will help them to give you an accurate quote
  • Ask them what kind of equipment and products they use – pest control companies have access to products and tools that aren’t available to the public, so find out what they use to get rid of termites permanently
  • Find out how soon they can get the job done once you give them the go ahead
  • Ask them if you will have to be out of your home during the treatment, and how soon it will be safe to return
  • Find out what they can do after the extermination to protect your home from future termite invasions
  • Don’t only go by price – it’s important, but it’s not the only thing, and make sure that you are comparing apples with apples when you look at different quotes

If you’ve had termites for a while and they’ve got a good hold in your home, you will almost certainly need professional help to figure out how to get rid of termites and keep them out. 

The good news is that once you hire a professional, you can be sure that they have all the necessary tools, equipment and products to get the job done right. 

It might actually be cheaper to hire a professional from the start, rather than first trying to handle the problem yourself. So if you’re not sure it’s a very small, very new colony you’re dealing with, consider calling the pros sooner rather than later. 

Have a Contractor Assess the Damage

A pest control specialist can help you to figure out how to get rid of termites, but that doesn’t mean the job ends there. 

A large termite colony can do a lot of damage in a relatively short amount of time, and if they’ve been in your home for some time, there might even be structural damage that needs to be repaired. 

Once your pest control company has confirmed that the termites have moved on, contact local contractors who specialize in restoration and renovation, and have them visit your home to assess the area where the colony used to be. 

They may need to remove drywall or other materials to get to the wood of your home, but it’s very important that you have any serious damage repaired, so your home is safe and healthy to live in again. 

Old termite damage sometimes only becomes apparent when you start doing other work on your home, but like anything, over time, this damage can become an even bigger problem. 

How Much Damage Can Termites Actually Do?

Termites are really tiny, so you might be wondering how much damage they can really do. 

To put it in perspective, an average colony of 60,000 individuals can eat the equivalent of a foot of one 2 x 4 board in about six months. Unfortunately, they don’t stick to one board, so there’s a good chance you can have extensive damage to many different framing members in six months to a year, and the longer the termites live in your home, the more damage they will do. 

Contact Our Team

Whether you’ve already established that you have a termite problem, or you’re still trying to confirm that they’re actually termites before you figure out how to get rid of termites, our team can help. 

We can help you to identify the common signs of termites in and around your home, and to figure out what kind of termites they might be. 

Our pest control specialists can advise you about products and strategies you can use to get rid of small colonies, or to prevent them from moving in, and we’re always happy to share our knowledge. 

If you’re in the Austin or Houston areas of Texas, we can also send a team out to assess the problem and give you a quote based on our best assessment of how to get rid of termites in your home. 

So if you’re looking for a reliable, friendly and competitive company that uses the best, safest methods to deal with termites and other pests, we’d love to hear from you! 

Contact Natran Green Pest Control to talk to the team, and to get started on the process of getting the termites out of your home. Remember that every day you delay dealing with the problem is another day for the colony to grow and attack more wood in your home. So take steps to deal with the problem sooner, and better. 

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