Every year, termites are responsible for billions of dollars in damage. Since wood is their primary diet, these common pests are known to destroy books, papers, living trees, shrubbery, insulation, and even the liners of swimming pools. The destruction associated with a termite infestation is so great, a special inspection/infestation report is conducted when buying or selling a home. Home remedies for termites can help put an end to the beginning signs of an invasion.
Table of Contents
- What is a Termite?
- Causes and Signs
- Termite Home Remedies
What is a Termite?
With around 2,800 species across the globe, termites are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on wood and other materials that contain cellulose . In the United States, there are about 45 species to worry about. The most active species in America is the subterranean termite, which constructs a nest under the ground. A subterranean colony can grow to accommodate as many as 5 million insects in a nest situated 5 to 20 feet below the ground.
Causes and Signs
Termites are persistent when it comes to finding food. They will climb roots, enter abandoned earthworm tunnels, and squeeze through the cracks and crevices of foundations. Some will travel hundreds of feet to forage for food. A growing colony can quickly extend its damage past a nest.
One of the first signs that a homeowner sees when termites have infested their house is uncovering winged termites inside. Some termite infestations go unnoticed because many people confuse winged termites with ants, which often swarm around the same time of year. However, termites differ because they have straight antennae, a uniform waist, and wings of equal size. Ants, on the other hand, possess constricted waists, elbowed antennae, and forewings longer than their hind wings.
Swarmers often gather around windows and doors because they are attracted to the light. Winged termites seen coming out of the base of a foundation wall or adjoining porches and patios is another sign that an infestation is brewing. The presence of “mud tunnels” along the inside and outside of a foundation is another sign of termites.
Termite Home Remedies
Before attempting home remedies for termites, it is important to identify the damage, and then take swift action. Below you will find a couple of suggestions to treat a termite problem in your home:
a) Screwdriver and Flashlight:
Identifying a termite problem is not always easy, especially if you don’t know the common signs of an infestation. With a flashlight and screwdriver in hand, go to your basement or crawlspace. Use the butt end of your screwdriver to tap on any wood materials. If the wood sounds hollow, you may have found termite damage. Continue by tapping floor beams, support beams, pillars, and wall boards. If you spot a hole, stick the screwdriver tip inside. If it goes in easily, termites could have caused the hole. Also keep an eye out for mud tunnels (or tubes), termite droppings (reddish brown, black, or tan in color), and insect wings.
b) Seal Out Termites:
A caulking gun and sealant can keep termite intruders out of your home. Seal all cracks, gaps, and holes – especially doors and window frames. Don’t forget to fill in cracks in the foundation. Also, fill in the gaps around wires, cables, and outdoor faucets.
c) Chicken Wire:
Use fine chicken wire or another screen material to cover vents, air filters, and other larger openings that lead inside your home.
d) Boric Acid:
One of the most common pest control options is boric acid because it dries out the body of insects. Place in termite holes, surrounding soil, and other gathering spots.
e) Clean Your Gutters:
Gutters that fill with water and other materials can attract termites. Wet organic material that collects in gutters makes a tasty meal for termites. It is important to remove sources of water close to your home.
f) Reduce Moisture:
Termites need moisture to survive. Make sure you fix leaky basement pipes, water fixtures, and reduce humidity and moisture throughout your home.
g) Seek and Destroy Mud Tunnels:
Subterranean termites (the most prevalent species in North America) require constant access to water. If they are denied, their thin skin shrivels in dry air conditions. Above the ground, the termites build mud tunnels that shelter them from the wind and provide humidity. Some homeowners have found these “tunnels” in their homes (such as their basement). Destroy the tunnels to reduce termite access to your home.
h) Remove Wood Debris:
If termites dine on wood, then it’s probably a good idea to remove sources of food from the outside of your home. Clear out brush piles, remove any logs lying around, relocate woodpiles away from your house, and reconsider your use of wood mulch close to the home. Situate wood six inches off of the ground to deter termite activity.
i) Careful Hose Habits:
When watering your garden or yard, avoid hitting materials made out of wood, such as a shed, garage, pile of logs, wooden fence, and the sides of your house.
Since termites are attracted to the cellulose in cardboard, the material makes a decent trap for the insects. Spray three or more flat pieces of cardboard with water, and stack the cardboard together. Place the trap close to termite activity and allow it to sit. After a few days have passed, take the trap outside and immediately burn it. This home remedy for termites will help cut down on their numbers.
k) Non-Wood Materials:
When building a new addition to your home, avoid using wood and opt for materials that do not attract termites, such as cement, brick, and stone. If you must use wood, there are kinds less desirable to the insects, such as cedar, redwood, and juniper.