- 1 Signs of Termite Infestation
- 2 Interesting Facts About Termites
- 3 Natural Termite Killer: How to Kill Termites Naturally
- 4 How to Prevent Termites
- 5 Conclusion
Termites are a natural part of nature’s ecological system. As such, it is important to consider an effective natural termite killer to reduce structure damage. Termites, like all insects, are motivated solely by instinct to feed and reproduce. In order to understand the precise motivation of termites to feed and reproduce, it is necessary to consider their place in nature.
In their evolutionary process, scientists believe termite ancestors in the Jurassic and Triassic periods were part of the family of cockroaches, one of the most prehistoric, enduring insects. Termites form colonies for the purpose of sharing food and breeding rather than for social connection.
Signs of Termite Infestation
The signs of termite infestation may appear as mud atop soil, if the termite species is subterranean. Wood termites are easily seen in small tunnels they build in soft and wet wood.
They may also hide in the cracks between exterior siding and can appear indoors in basements and attics where wood will provide much nourishment.
What Causes Termites?
Termites have existed since prehistoric times and are part of the balance of nature’s ecological system. As with all members of this ecological system, the wood termites’ instinct is to reduce wood composition so it breaks down naturally and when termites’ life span ends, they return to soil as organic matter. Subterranean termites also provide a measure of decomposition of underground insect wastes and other organic soil components.
How to Check for Termites?
It is important for all owners of structures containing wood to perform an annual inspection. This should be done preferably in spring when termites are mostly likely to begin breeding and multiplying.
It is also important to be able to identify termites which are often mistaken for flying ants. However, the clue to whether there is a termite problem is when the first signs of warm temperatures force termites out of their normal breeding places to seek food and newer shelter.
What Do Termites Look Like?
Termites have a different appearance at varying stages of their development. For instance, termite eggs appear in small, white “nests.” Once these eggs are hatched, nymph termites appear in a pale white color. These nymph termites may grow into worker or soldier termites. They are approximately 0.16 to 0.59 inches in length.
Termites, like ants, form colonies that have a caste system. For termites, this includes a king, queen, secondary and tertiary queen and workers and soldiers. The queen is usually the largest in body size due mainly to producing eggs.
The North American adult termite has a body that looks similar to that of a cockroach. It has two antennae, two fore legs and four rear legs. It is dark brown in color.
The abdomen of an adult termite has two plates with ten segments. Termites that do not reproduce do not have wings. Termites may also be black, yellow, white and pale yellow in color.
When Are Termites Active?
Termites are most active in spring and summer. They do the most damage when their appetite for food is most voracious. Subterranean termites remain out of direct sunlight.
In spring, wood termites may appear as swarms of winged insects hovering near exterior wood on structures. These winged termites then find their way into cracks and into the interior of the home. Winged termites may also be seen after a warm spring shower.
What Kind of Termites Do I Have?
To determine the kind of termites you have, study the overall appearance of the insect. If you see white termite eggs in or around the foundation of your home, these are most likely subterranean termites.
If the termite problem has become exacerbated, you will notice narrow, eroded tracks in exterior or interior wood.
Where Do Termites Lay Eggs?
When you see small termite larvae that look similar to caviar, these are the most visible. The queen termite can lay up to two dozen eggs. The location of deposited termite eggs depends on the type of termite.
Subterranean termites lay eggs below ground to a depth of from four to 18 inches. Wood termites usually hide eggs in the cracks of walls in structures and eggs have been found in furniture.
Interesting Facts About Termites
Evidence of termite larvae is not always an indication that infestation exists. This happens when eggs are deposited and the queen or colony has been exterminated.
It is interesting to note that worker termites are blind and have no eyes. Soldier termites also have an unusual difficulty. Their jaws are so large that they cannot feed themselves and are fed by worker termites.
Soldier termites defend termite nests fiercely. One species of termites actually pollinates a rare species of orchid, the Rhizanthella Gardeneri. Termite queens lay eggs every day.
Termites may chew dry or damp wood all day every day for their entire life spans. Termite colonies have populations from thousands to several millions. Termite antennae provide the sense of taste, smell and touch. They also detect vibrations and heat.
Termite Life Cycle
Termites’ chief duty is to reproduce colonies. This is the reason the king and queen play such an important role in colonization. Termite life cycle begins with the queen who produces eggs which become larvae and nymph termites. These become workers and soldiers. The actual life span of termite workers and soldiers is two years. Termite queens have a life span of up to a quarter century.
How Do Termites Eat Wood?
The digestive tract of termites produces bacteria, enzymes and protozoa that help them digest cellulose commonly found in wood and plants. Wood termites chew wood to fine sawdust.
Their chewing ability is due to the formation of the termite’s mouth which has a flap at the front. The shape of the termite’s mouth is in direct proportion to the antennae which helps detect the taste and smell of food.
What Noise Do Termites Make?
Termites actually do make noise. However, it is usually heard only when there is major infestation and termites begin colonizing in interior walls in structures.
In reality, an individual would require a special listening device to detect termite noise which is barely perceptible to the human ear. The most revealing sound of termite infestation is when you tap on wood and the reverberation returns a hollow sound.
How Long Does It Take for Termites to Destroy a House?
The specific location of termite colonies determines how much damage termites can do to a structure. For termites that eat dry wood, destruction of a major supporting roof beam in the attic or wood frames around basement windows can compromise the structural stability. Also, the age of the structure is a factor in how long it takes for termites to destroy a home.
Obviously, an older home in disrepair can be destroyed faster than a newly built home.
How Many Termites are There in the World?
Over the 50 million years termites have existed on earth, there are twelve classifications of termites and several thousand species, fossilized and live. The breakdown of termite species includes:
- 400 species in South America
- 10 species in North America
- 50 species in Europe
- 435 species in Asia
- 360 species in Australia
- 1,000 in Africa
Termites are found on every continent with the exception of Antarctica where frigid temperatures and lack of forestation prohibit termite breeding.
Do Termites Bite?
Although the soldier termites’ duty is to protect the colony and nests, with such powerful jaws they do have the ability to bite. However, they may defensively bite other insects if their colony is threatened.
There is no documentation of termites biting humans, unless the human attempted to touch the termite. Termites are not naturally aggressive to humans and pets.
Natural Termite Killer: How to Kill Termites Naturally
It is definitely possible to kill termites naturally. Today, there is a wealth of information online and offline about the use of natural termite repellents.
Use Orange Oil for Termites
The orange extracted from orange rinds contains the ingredient D-limonene and poses no hazardous risk to humans. It is one of the non toxic or natural termite killer methods used to kill termites naturally.
The botanical treatment using orange oil for termites is a natural termite repellent and is recommended over chemical treatments.
Use Neem Oil for Termites
Another non toxic or natural termite killer for termite control is the use of Neem Oil. This botanical treatment uses oil extracted from seeds from an Asian tree, Azadiracta Indica, and is considered one of the safest botanical pesticides for use in treating termite infestations naturally. Botanical pesticides work in two ways, they act as a repellent to sites termites choose for feeding and to lay eggs and also inhibit larvae fertilization. Neem oil is also very effective to get rid of other pests, read our article on how to get rid of spider mites.
Use Nematodes for Termites
A Nematode is actually a parasite used to control termite infestation. It is an organic termite killer in the form of threadworms or roundworms. They are about 1/50th of an inch in length and are multi cellular and like worms, have no segments to their bodies. Nematodes have sharply tapered mouths that aid in reducing large termite populations. As an organic termite killer, Nematodes help decrease the number of colonies that occur around structures.
Use Termites Cardboard Trap
Cardboard contains cellulose, an ingredient wood termites hunger for most and thrive on. Cardboard also emits a kind of woody odor that attracts termites. This simple and effective method collects termites who attach themselves to the cardboard surface – so cardboard traps are a effective natural termite killer.
It is recommended that when using this natural termite repellent method, the surface of the cardboard should be lightly sprayed to enhance the woody odor. The dampened cardboard should be located in and around the exterior of the home and also the interior in attics and basements. The cardboard can be burned to decrease the termite population.
One innovative way to continue termite control is to use “cardboard stakes.” Cut strips of damp cardboard six inches in length and four inches in width. Roll the strips and secure with string. Place the dampened stakes into the ground around the exterior perimeter of the house. This will attract termites that cling to the cardboard. Then, burn the stakes in the backyard fire pit. Use the ash that remains as fertilizer for the garden. This is recycling at its best and is perfectly safe. There are no chemicals to worry about and no residual detriment to the environment. It’s the “green” way to manage and control destructive insects like termites.
Expose Termites to Sunlight
Termites, like cockroaches are sensitive to sunlight. Sunlight is one of the most natural termite repellents. It is also a natural termite poison. The greater the volume of sunlight and heat emitted by the sun will cause termites to die off. This is why termites flourish in spring when climates have not yet reached their peak temperatures.
Termites hurry to breed and finding breeding places before summer temperatures become too extreme for termite survival.
Termite and Moisture Control
The species of termites that rely on moisture need water to reproduce. Certain species of termites may begin to lay eggs on plants in wet, swampy areas. To control termites, it is crucial to ensure that pools of water in and around the foundation of the home are removed or emptied. This includes bird baths, children’s pools, old tires and empty containers.
Inside the home, regularly inspect the areas where moisture builds up. It may be a good idea to invest in a dehumidifier for problem areas where humidity regularly causes a build up of moisture.
Heat Treatment for Termites
Termites do not have the physical endurance to withstand heat, so it make a perfect natural termite killer. Heat is a natural termite poison. If you choose to use the heat method to kill termites, remove all interior objects that cannot withstand heat of 120 degrees for one half hour. Ideally, the heat treatment should allow for temperatures of 140 degrees to effectively kill termite colonies indoors.
Termite Dust Treatment
Another method in the natural termite killer recipe to prevent infestation and reduce termite colonies is termite dust treatment. However, it is extremely important to choose a natural dust ingredient to avoid toxicity to humans and children. One such dust is known as diatomaceous earth or DE as it is commonly known.
DE originates from fossilized diatoms, found in sediment in oceans, rivers, lakes and streams. It is used most often as a natural flocculent in filtration systems such as water treatment plants and swimming pool filters. As a natural termite killer it has a low level of toxicity to humans and pets.
Apply DE as a termite dust treatment by “dusting” attics and crawlspaces. For the exterior of your home, dig a small trench around the base of the foundation and apply DE to the trench to deter termites from taking up residence in cracks in siding through which termites gain entry to the interior.
DE can also be added to water as a termite repellent spray. However, be sure that the spray bottle is sterile and contaminant free so that the DE remains at its highest level of effectiveness.
Remove Termite infested Wood
Among the suggested preventions in your natural termite killer recipe, be sure to remove termite infested wood. Wood that has already been under siege by termite colonies is like a magnet to continue their damage and destruction.
Be more aware of damage outdoors to existing tree stumps and fallen dead trees. If these are already home to termite larvae, it is best to remove this wood while there is still a small amount of sap remaining. Once all sap is gone from tree stumps and fallen trees, these become the prime location of new termite colonies. It is also advised to treat the soil beneath the wood since subterranean termites are attracted to these areas.
How to Prevent Termites
The highlights of knowing how to prevent termite infestation and repair damage, as well as to design your natural termite killer recipe, should include:
- Identifying the type of termite present in the home
- Understanding the breeding and feeding habits of termites
- Identifying termite damage and destruction early
- Maintaining focus on safe, natural termite killer methods
- Eliminating potential termite habitats
- Performing regular termite inspections throughout the year
- Learning the details of natural termite repellents and studying the options for using organic termite killers
For individuals considering buying a new home, be sure to check before the certificate of occupancy is issued that the home has been treated for termites, if the location of the home has a high incidence of termite infestation. This is especially important for newly built and custom built homes.
Very often, when new construction is ongoing, termites are attracted to residual sawdust and small wood scraps that are usually covered over with soil. When this happens, subterranean termite colonies have a ready made source of food. Usually, the new homeowner is unaware of the colonies below the soil until they begin to notice mud tunnels atop thinning spots in the lawn.
Wood termites may also go unnoticed in partially constructed homes that are part of housing complexes. This usually occurs in areas where there are nearby wooded areas. For termites, moving from decayed wood in local wooded areas to the delicacy of fresh, new lumber stacked on housing development sites is a big reward for new termite colonies. For termite queens, it’s a feast that will produce thousands more termites.
Take the time to create a plan that incorporates a botanical treatment and preventative measures as a regular part of protecting your home’s structure. Once the type of termite infestation is identified, it is a simple matter of seeking the assistance of the local botanical garden supplier to purchase a non toxic or natural termite killer, such as Neem seeds, orange oil or Nematodes. The local botanical garden supplier will suggest the best and most effective means of application for each.
Since termite queens lay eggs with such frequency, a homeowner should consider that any delays in treating their termite problem will only become more costly. With regular inspection a more serious termite infestation problem can be avoided. For the most serious problems, it may be advisable to seek the services of a reputable local expert who uses natural termite repellent or natural termite poison as a regular systemic part of termite control.
All termite control service technicians are required to be licensed as a matter of customer safety. However, not all termite control service technicians provide natural termite killer control services. One way to know whether the termite control service is qualified for natural and organic termite control is to check their background in botany, agronomy and horticulture.
The other factor to check is the termite control service’s experience. It is also possible to obtain customer recommendations from the service, should there be additional questions regarding safety of products used by the company and the success rate of termite control.
In most cases, individual homeowners can use their own natural termite killer methods. If this is the method chosen, be sure to search for qualified sources who can add detailed information on other types of termite control methods like fungi and liquid applications of natural products. All natural termite control products should have the approval of a federal food and drug administration and federal, state and local environmental agency.