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The Devil in the Wood(s)! 6 Effective Tips to Get Rid of Termites

Carl Heinrichs, owner of Quagga Designs.
Written by,

Carl Heinrichs

CEO of Quagga

There is nothing worse than finding termites in your home. 

These insects are an incredible nuisance and spread quickly around the house, form colonies, and hide in the corners of furniture and walls. They also destroy objects made of wood and even concrete in seconds.

A hole from termites in wood.

It is often difficult to take action against termites because they are often only noticed when they have done damage. It helps to call experienced experts to care for the problem.

However, looking closely, you can find out early whether termites are in the house and tackle the problem.

What are Termites?

Termites are small, social insects that feed on cellulose-based materials, primarily wood, and play an essential ecological role in breaking down dead plant matter. However, when they infest human-made structures, they can cause significant damage by consuming wooden structures and compromising the integrity of buildings.

How to Detect Termites

Holes and cracks in the wood.
Credit: / @srcharls

Detecting termite infestation in your home requires careful observation and attention to specific signs. Here are some common indicators that can help you determine if you have termites.

1. Fecal Pellets

Observe for small, pellet-shaped droppings near infested wood. These pellets, also known as frass, are the waste products of drywood termites. These piles of dust won’t look like sawdust but tiny oval-shaped pellets looking more like salt and pepper.

2. Cracks in the walls

Termites build tunnels and travel around the house in this way. It is always helpful to see if wood or firewood is near your home. Sometimes, this can be the source of the termites plaguing your home.

3. Mud Tubes

Look for mud tubes on the foundation, walls, or other surfaces. These tubes, about the width of a pencil, are constructed to provide moisture and protection as they travel between their nest and food sources.

4. Wood Damage

Check for signs of wood damage, such as hollowed or damaged wood surfaces. Termites often consume wood from the inside out, leaving a thin veneer or even a paper-like outer layer. Tap or lightly press on suspected infested areas to listen for a hollow sound.

5. Swarmers

Keep an eye out for swarmers, which are winged reproductive termites. These swarmers are often seen in the spring or summer when they leave their nests to mate and start new colonies. Finding discarded wings around windowsills, light fixtures, or spider webs can signify a termite swarm.

6. Tight-Fitting Doors and Hard-to-Open Windows

If doors and windows suddenly become difficult to open or close smoothly, it could indicate termite activity. Termites produce moisture as they tunnel through wood, causing it to warp and interfere with the operation of doors and windows.

7. Clicking Sounds

Sometimes, you may hear a clicking sound from the walls or infested wood. This could be the sound of termites chewing through wood or termite colonies traveling through tunnels.

If you notice any of these signs, it is advisable to contact a professional pest control company for a thorough inspection and appropriate treatment. They have the expertise and tools to accurately assess the situation and develop an effective termite management plan. Early detection and intervention are key to minimizing damage and protecting your home.

Types of Termites

Many types exist, but there are two main types. Here are the differences:

Wood Termites

  • Also known as “drywood termites”
  • Typically establish their colonies in wooden furniture, beams, and other dry wood sources
  • Can survive without direct contact with soil moisture
  • Primarily feed on wood and are particularly attracted to moist wood, including furniture, wooden structures, and dead trees
  • Extract moisture from the wood itself and can cause significant damage over time
  • Colonies are typically smaller, with populations ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand individuals
  • Often detected by the presence of fecal pellets, tiny holes in wood surfaces, or the presence of swarmers (winged reproductive termites) during their mating season

Subterranean Termites

  • Live in underground colonies and build mud tubes to travel from the soil to their food sources, such as wood
  • They are highly dependent on moisture and soil for survival, as they need it for protection
  • Feed on cellulose material, including wood, but also forage for other sources of plant-based food, such as leaf litter
  • They are known for their aggressive feeding habits and can cause extensive damage to structures if left unchecked
  • For larger colonies that can consist of several hundred thousand to millions of termites
  • Large colony size contributes to their ability to cause significant damage in a relatively short period
  • Infestations can be identified by the presence of mud tubes on foundations, walls, or other surfaces, as well as Swarmers

Understanding these differences is crucial for effective termite identification, treatment, and prevention strategies. If you suspect a termite infestation, it is advisable to consult with a professional pest control expert for proper assessment and management.

How Do You Get Rid of Termites?

Man cleaning his stairs inside of his home.

Now that you know how to find out if there are termites in your house, it is time to learn a few simple tricks on how to kill drywood termites and save your house from a termite infestation.

As you already know, you will probably need professional help exterminating termites if the termite plague has already spread. Fortunately, at an early stage, some cheap, simple products can help you in eliminating termites for good.

1. Vinegar

 A bottle of vinegar in a glass bottle on a wooden table.

Vinegar not only kills termites, but it will also destroy the termite nest. To make it most effective, vinegar can be mixed with water in a 1:1 ratio.

You can pour the vinegar water into a spray bottle and use it to spray the mixture on furniture and walls.

2. Clove oil

Cloves pouring out of a wooden bowl onto a wooden spoon on a wood table.

You can find clove oil in most health food stores, pharmacies, or in shops that specialize in perfumes and cleaning products.

Clove oil can kill termites on floors by wiping them with it. The termites will not survive, and, as a bonus, your house will smell great!

3. Orange oil

A bottle of orange oil surrounded by oranges and orange peels.

For obvious reasons, many people want to avoid using toxins to eliminate termites completely. For this reason, orange oil is an excellent choice because it easily kills termites and at the same time, does not harm any other house residents.

You can put the orange oil on a damp cloth to wipe surfaces affected by termites. You can also use it to wipe furniture pieces so they don't get infected. However, remember that orange oil only works with a small termite population.

4. Kerosene or Lubricant

Kerosene oil and lubricants can be used as termite repellent and insect control. However, there is one disadvantage: they can be toxic to pets and humans. For this reason, you should be careful when using these harsh chemicals.

Take a damp rag and use it to wipe furniture infested with termites. If you use lubricant, you should use a spray bottle.

Can Kerosene Kill Termites?

Yes, kerosene can be used for killing termites. It’s an effective termite control method, but caution should be exercised due to safety concerns and potential environmental hazards.

5. Borax

If you use Borax in a termite-infested environment, the termites will be attracted to it and consume it. The termites will quickly die off.

If you use Borax, you should wear safety glasses and gloves. Mix 0.45 kg of Borax powder with almost 4 liters of water and spray the areas affected by termites. Remember that you shouldn't let children or animals near Borax.

6. Insecticide

As you can imagine, insecticides can also end termites. Insecticides protect your furniture from re-infestation. Pay attention to the instructions when you use the product for the first time.

Final Thoughts

As we conclude our exploration of effective tips to eliminate termites, it's crucial to emphasize the importance of taking immediate action. Remember, termites are relentless creatures that won't simply vanish alone.

Whether you treat termites with natural remedies or seek professional pest control, consistent monitoring and preventive measures are essential. Termites thrive in moist conditions, so regular inspections, maintaining a dry environment (no pools of standing water!), and addressing moisture issues will go a long way in termite prevention.

Dealing with termites can be daunting, but with the right knowledge and a proactive mindset, you can reclaim your property from these tiny invaders.

Carl Heinrichs

CEO of Quagga
Carl Heinrichs is the Founder of Quagga, Canada's most innovative furniture design solutions that are easy to assemble and playfully made.

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