5 Environmentally Responsible Ways to Address a Termite Problem

Of all the problems homeowners worry about, one of the most common is pest infestation; specifically termites.

Any homeowner who’s had the unfortunate experience of enduring a termite infestation understands how devastating it can be. To first address the issue, it’s important to understand the problem. Termites have evolved for one purpose: depreciating the value of your home.

Understanding Termites

There are several species of termites. The three main species are:

  1. Drywood termites, which are regionally located around the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coastal areas.
  2. Dampwood termites, which can often be found living in woodland areas where moisture easily collects.
  3. Subterranean termites are usually the ones that cause the most damage to homes.

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The structure of a termite colony is similar to that of ants. As social insects, termites are governed by a caste system. This will include a king and queen, soldier termites, and worker termites. It is the worker termites that will cause devastation to your home.

Termites who cause devastation to your home’s structural integrity have special enzymes that digest cellulose. This is the organic fibrous material found in wood and plants. Most colonies are commonly found in areas around your home hidden from view. This can include hard to reach areas such as beneath your home.

An infestation of termites in your home can remain undiscovered for a long time. Depending on the number of termites gathered within the colonies surrounding your home, the extensive damage can be varied. A trained pest control technician can determine the impacts a termite colony has had on your home’s structural integrity.

While there’s no accurate way to determine the exact age of termite infestation, there are clear signs indicating termite damage. If painted walls appear to peel or bubble, small entry holes and faint trace lines of tunnels through your drywall, and a hollowed-out noise that emits from a piece of wood when tapped by a heavy object.

Chemicals and pesticides are usually people’s first response when encountering a termite infestation. But, these are not always the safest solutions. Especially if your home has pets or children. For those looking for a more environmentally friendly approach, here are five eco-friendly ways to address a termite problem.

1. Prevention

Prevention is better than cure as the saying goes. Termites, especially the subterranean subspecies, thrive in damp and moist environments.

Termite inspection and control starts with clearing your home of any wood sources. This can include firewood, logs, and other wood debris. Keep them as far away from your home as possible to limit the resources available to termites.

Likewise, termites tend to be attracted to homes where the foundation comes in contact with soil. To prevent an infestation of termites, make sure there are at least 7 inches of clearance. This will limit the accessibility termites will have to your structural foundation.

If your home does require construction with wood, such as garden borders, plant naturally termite-resistant trees. Cypress, cedar, redwood, and teak are great trees that have shown to repel termites.

2. Extreme Temperatures

While preventative measures are a good start, at times, these will only serve to discourage termites. Once infestation occurs, treatment must start immediately. Any delay further encourages colony growth and the spread of termites. Extreme temperatures are a great way to address termite infestation.

When using hot air, temperatures must reach between 48.89° to 60° Celsius. For cold treatments, the temperature must drop down to below -9.44° Celsius. Termites cannot tolerate these extreme temperatures. While cold treatments require a minimum of 4 days to fully eradicate termites, heat treatments resolve the problem fast. Usually within under 4 hours.

Thermal and freezing eradication requires your home to be tented. This envelops the termites within your home to allow the treatment to work. It’s advisable to hire a pest control technician at this point as they will have the necessary tools and knowledge to properly carry out this work.

3. Vinegar

The same vinegar stored in your home for cooking can be an effective method of eradicating termites. There are four varietal ways to use vinegar to get rid of termites. One is vinegar in its purest form, but most will opt for a vinegar solution mixed with lemon juice or water.

Once the correct vinegar solution has been determined, pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Then get to work.

Spray around your whole house. Focus on areas with visible entrance holes or termite mounds. Consider spraying your mixture on any surface in which termites might proliferate. This wooden structures could be garden borders, fences, or corners of buildings. Spray generously and allow the mixture to seep through cracks and holes to eliminate termites.

Alternatively, you can also drill holes to eliminate termites. Focus on infested wood and inject your vinegar solution into these problem areas. Depending on how severe your termite infestation is, vinegar may take three days or four weeks.

4. Nematodes

Most will not know what a nematode is. Nematodes are microscopic worms and natural predators to termites. To utilize natural biological warfare against termites, nematodes can be bought at local hardware or garden stores. Likewise, farm feed shops and online will give you access to nematodes.

Be careful when handling nematodes. Like termites, nematodes are sensitive to heat and UV light. As their accustomed to dark and cool environments, limit their exposure to sunlight.

Once you’ve received your organic pest control, create a nematode rich solution. This can then be sprayed into the affected areas surrounding your home. Nematodes work by infecting termites and multiply as these infected termites assemble within their colonies. This is an effective way to of targeting the termite infestation at its source.

5. Salt

Like vinegar, salt is a daily component of everyday living. Found in all kitchens, salt is a great preventative measure when addressing a termite problem.

Mix equal parts salt and warm water. The salt should fully dissolve into the mixture before use. As salt will dehydrate termites and kill them, the more salt, the better. Locate the entry points of your termite infestation and spray liberally.

A syringe will work as effectively. Inject your salt mixture throughout bored holes in infested areas to target termites.

Likewise, for something a little stronger, consider a boric acid salt solution. Boric acid is naturally found in sediments like rocks, or even soil and plants. As boric acid is abrasive, infected termites will spread the boric acid throughout a colony.

While all these methods are great environmental solutions to your termite problem, it is advisable to consult with a pest control technician. Their knowledge and expertise is the most effective way to guarantee the elimination of termites.

Photo by: pompi

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