If you’re looking at how to get rid of termites, you’re probably already a bit over your head in damage. These pesky pests may play an important role in our ecosystem, but they can also wreak havoc on our homes, porches, and sometimes gardens.
We’ve all seen homes on movies and TV shows sporting the infamous “termite tent”. Perhaps some of us have even seen our own neighbors and friends’ lives completely upended by these wood-eating insects.
But before you pack your bags and look for the nearest hotel, you may want to try a few of our tried and true methods on how to get rid of termites yourself.
What Are Termites And How Many Types Are There?
The above images show three types of termites.
When trying to figure out how to get rid of termites, it helps to understand what you’re up against.
Termites are insects that feed on dead and decaying plant material, including wood. While these insects do play a vital role in our ecosystem by helping to break down dead plant and wood materials, they can also cause major damage to our homes.
If your home is made primarily of wood, and most are, you may have unwittingly provided a smorgasbord of dead wood material for these ravenously hungry creatures. But what are termites, and how do their colonies work?
All termite colonies consist of three types of termites, including:
Soldier termites have very large jaws, as depicted above. They do not have wings and are called soldiers because their primary role is to protect the nest and colony.
Worker termites also do not have wings. They are longer than soldier termites and grow to be about 1/4th of an inch. These are the working termites of the colony and are responsible for foraging, finding and storing food, and doing labor.
Alates termites, also known as “swarmers”, are the termites you see with wings. They also tend to swarm when flying and can grow to be between 1/4th to ½ an inch long. These termites are in their reproductive state and their main responsibility is reproducing and expanding the colony.
Alates termites shed their wings shortly after landing, which is why you will rarely find a dead termite with wings and why many people are confused as to whether termites even have wings or not.
While there are a number of species of termites in the world and each species has three types, there are also three specific groups of termites home owners should be aware of, as each group can bring with it their own set of unique problems.
Let’s take a look.
- Dampwood Termites
Dampwood termites are less common than some of the other termites on this list, but are still just as problematic. They feed on damp wood, as their name suggests, and homes that have experienced water damage in the past may be more at risk of these hungry invaders.
Dampwood termites are larger than other types of termites and can cause serious damage to a home’s structural support by targeting support beans.
- Drywood Termites
Drywood termites get their source of water through moisture in the air and environment. Drywood termites thrive in dry wood areas and can infest the entire home, if they see fit.
Since they build their tunnels throughout wood structures and not underground, they can cause serious and expensive damage to homes ranging from structural to visual and even cause damage to wooden furniture.
- Subterranean Termites
As their name suggests, subterranean termites live in the soil underground and their nests are usually made up of a mixture of dead wood and soil. If you’re looking at how to get rid of termites, chances are these are the termites you’re thinking about.
Subterranean termites are the most common group of termites in the world and are usually the main culprits behind home damage. They enter homes through cracks and crevices or other vulnerabilities in a home’s structure. These types of termites can be particularly costly and cause the most damage as they eat everything from wood to books to plants to furniture.
Do You Have Termites? Identifying A Termite Infestation
Mud tubes are a good indicator you have a termite problem.
Termites can be found throughout most of the United States, making them a widespread and very common problem for many. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to spot termite damage early and often once you do notice you have termites, the damage has already been done.
That said, there are some telltale signs you can look for to help clue you in to a termite infestation sooner than later.
- Damaged Wood or Hollowed Out Wood
Damaged wood is perhaps the most obvious sign of termites, but is not necessarily visible to us because it’s done behind the drywall or underneath flooring.
However, once you see damaged or hollowed wood, it’s quite obvious. Both damaged and hollowed wood can lead to structural damage and issues with the subflooring. Damaged wood from termites may also come across as water damage to the untrained eye, as we will discuss below.
- Wood Blisters
Wood blisters will often look like water damage to flooring or, as the wording states, wood blistering. This often indicates you have subterranean termites who are feeding on your wooden materials from below.
- Termite Wings And Other Swarm Evidence
When termites swarm, they leave evidence. Since swarming termites lose their wings upon landing, you may notice insect wings lying around your home in specific areas like doorways, windows, and other entry or exit points. Termites swarm when they are reproducing and looking to relocate or find a new colony, so this could be a sign you already have a colony of termites somewhere in your home.
- Mud Tubes
Mud tubes are a telltale sign of subterranean termites. These tubes are about the size of a pencil and are basically ventilation tunnels for subterranean termites. They can usually be found around the perimeter of your home, leading into your house.
- Termite Droppings
Drywood termites are responsible for any termite droppings you may see, although you may not realize you are looking at termite droppings. Termite droppings look like sawdust or wood particles, and pile up outside of termite nests.
How To Get Rid Of Termites – Recommended Products
Understanding a termite’s lifecycle is key to understanding how to get rid of them.
Like many pests, termites must be eliminated in all stages in order to prevent them from returning or rebuilding their colonies.
When considering how to get rid of termites, remember there is a hierarchy amongst them that is similar to bees and ants. This means that termites also have a queen. One queen is capable of laying up to 1,000 eggs a day and sometimes more, depending on the species of termite.
Buying the right products that will eliminate adult termites as well as eggs and larvae is important when trying to figure out how to get rid of termites for good.
The below video does an excellent job of explaining why these insects are so destructive and also discusses how to get rid of termites yourself.
Some of our favorite products for how to get rid of termites are listed below.
Taurus SC Termiticide
Taurus SC is a termiticide that is effective against a number of stubborn and hard to get rid of pests including beetles, ants, black widows, brown recluse spiders, and of course termites.
This product is a bit pricey, but it works. It’s also non-detectable, which means if one termite walks through the insecticide it will then unknowingly bring it back to it’s colony, helping to effectively get rid of even more termites in the process.
And while this is a proven product when looking for how to get rid of termites, it’s a strong insecticide that should be used with caution.
Termidor Foam Insecticide
Another termiticide/insecticide that is proven to work is Termidor. This foaming insecticide works well with targeted application and helps when you’re trying to find out how to get rid of termites at the source.
This product is especially effective if you know where the nest is or are able to inject this insecticide into the tunnels.
Spectracide Terminate Foam
This aerosol insecticide works similarly to the above foaming termite killer by allowing you to effectively spot-treat specific areas where termites have invaded. It works and sprays like an aerosol but immediately turns to foam, helping to cover a wider surface area and thus help you in your search for how to get rid of termites effectively.
We recommend this product if you are looking at how to get rid of termites both inside and outside, as it can be used for both purposes.
BioAdvanced Termite Killer
If you are looking for how to get rid of termites and keep them from re-entering your home, take a look at BioAdvanced termite killer. This product works to protect the perimeter of your home and is specifically designed to kill termites and keep them from coming back.
You simply sprinkle it around the perimeter of your property. It is designed to help make application easy and one order should cover most average sized property lines. Of course, it’s important to read the safety instructions carefully, especially if you have children or pets.
Hi Yield Plus Turf Termite Control
Last, we have this termite control insecticide by Hi Yield Plus. It uses the active ingredient Permethrin and helps when you’re looking not only at how to get rid of termites, but also how to get rid of roaches, beetles, earwigs, bagworms, mosquitoes, spiders, and more.
This termite control insecticide is meant for outdoor use only, and it’s a strong insecticide so it should be used with caution. Read the safety instructions and directions of use carefully to ensure children and pets are safe.
How To Get Rid Of Termites With Natural Products
Termites can also be deterred using natural products that contain Borax.
Insecticides may be effective when it comes to getting rid of termites, but don’t you want to know how to get rid of termites the natural way?
For many of us with children and pets in the home, looking at how to get rid of termites using natural, safe ingredients is important. We also like products that are safe and healthy for the environment.
If you are looking for how to get rid of termites naturally, take a look at these five products below.
Also known as sodium borate or borates, Borax powder can kill and control termite infestations. It is a natural and safe way to help eliminate these pests.
The downside to using Borax Powder is that you’ll have to reapply itt several times until your termites have all been eliminated. This means a bit more maintenance and work, but it’s a safe way to get rid of these pests.
Bora Care Natural Borate Termite Control
Another natural termite control method we like for how to get rid of termites is Bora Care. This natural termite eliminator uses the same active and natural ingredient in the powder to help eliminate and control pests like termites.
It works specifically against drywood termites, formosan termites, subterranean termites, and other wood destroying pests like beetles and fungi.
Diatomaceous Earth is a popular and all natural product that helps get rid of a number of pests, and is an effective tool for those wondering how to get rid of termites.
This product is made of fossilized remains of protist, or single-celled algae. It works by penetrating the exoskeleton of crawling insects like termites and dehydrating them until they die. This is also what makes it so effective against other types of insects like spiders, beetles, and ants.
Orange Guard Pest Control
If you are looking at how to get rid of termites naturally, you might like Orange Guard. This is a natural pest control that kills termites on contact. It is made of orange peels and has a lovely scent, however it will need to be used along with other products like borax powder or Diatomaceous Earth in order to be effective in the long term.
This is an organic substance that is safe to use around children and pets as well.
BioLogic Beneficial Nematodes
Beneficial Nematodes are living, microscopic parasites that don’t harm humans or animals but actively search out insect pests like termites. You can sprinkle this product above a termite’s nest to release them.
Best Home Remedies For How To Get Rid Of Termites
Garlic plants and garlic oils are excellent natural remedies to get rid of termites.
Wondering how to get rid of termites with home remedies? We have plenty of home remedies that work. In fact, you may be surprised at how many termite killing products you already have lying around your house!
Some home remedies that work great for getting rid of termites include:
- Vinegar And Lemon Juice
Do you know how to get rid of termites with vinegar! It’s simple. Mix half a cup of vinegar and half a cup of lemon juice (or two freshly squeezed lemons) and put the mixture in a spray bottle. The concoction will kill termites on contact.
- Orange Oil
Orange oil, or anything made of d-limonene, kills termites by penetrating and dissolving their exoskeletons. This isn’t a product you can make at home, unless you’re super crafty, but you can easily purchase it at gardening stores or home improvement stores. You can also order it online.
- Set Wet Cardboard Traps
Setting out wet cardboard is another excellent tool you should look into when considering how to get rid of termites naturally. This is a simple trap that lures termites from their nests and gets them into one place.
Unfortunately, you have to keep an eye on this trap and watch for termites to crowd on. Once they are on, you can remove the cardboard and dispose of the termites however you please.
- Garlic Oil, Neem Oil, or Clove Oil
The above oils are toxic to a number of pests, not just termites. Take the oil of your choice and drench the entrance to the termite nest. This doesn’t kill on contact and must be ingested to help kill the termites, and this method may require multiple applications to work effectively.
That said, you might want to incorporate other treatment methods when looking at how to get rid of termites with this one, especially if your termite infestation is severe.
Frequently Asked Questions About Termites
Flying termites, like the ones seen above, are known as adult reproductive termites, or swarmers.
- Do Termites Fly?
Yes, termites can fly but only when they are in their Alates or Swarmer stage. When termites fly, it means they are in their reproductive state and are also relocating or finding a new space to begin a colony.
- How Many Species Of Termites Are There?
There are over 2,000 termite species in the world, but only 50 species can be found in the United States. Interestingly, not all species of termites are destructive and many are very important to maintaining a healthy ecosystem.
- Do Termites Bite Or Carry Disease?
One look at a termite’s large mandibles and you know to stay away. However, most termites do not bite people and soldier termites, (the termites with the large jaws), will only bite if handled. That said, if they do bite it will hurt, but you can rest easy knowing that termites do not carry diseases.
- How Many Termites Live In A Colony?
A termite colony typically contains between 60,000 to 1 million termites, and a queen is able to lay as many as 1,000 termite eggs per day.
- Where In The World Do Termites Live?
Termites can be found all across the world and currently occupy 49 states in the US. It is rumored that Alaska doesn’t have termites because the climate is too cold for them to thrive.
- Are Termites All Bad?
As we mentioned above, termites play a vital role in the balance of a healthy ecosystem. Since they feast on wood and dead plant material, they are natural decomposers who help to recycle old materials, thus helping enrich soil and leave it healthier and better able to grow plants and trees.
Tips On Preventing Future Termites In Your Home
Prevent future termite infestations with the below tips and tricks.
The best way to prevent a future termite infestation is to be proactive. You can reduce your chances of suffering from a termite infestation by following some simple steps.
Keep trees, shrubs, and plants trimmed and neat, especially around the perimeter of your home. Also try to leave at least 1 foot (12 inches) of space between the exterior wall of your home and shrubs.
- Use Pineneeds As Opposed to Mulch
If you want to know how to get rid of termites, first get rid of mulch. Mulch is made of wood and is therefore very appetizing to termites. Pineneedles, on the other hand, do not attract termites.
- Maintain The Exterior And Interior Of Your Home
Be vigilant. Caulk and seal cracks, holes, and crevices when necessary. Take care of water damage as soon as possible and ensure all entry and exit points are sealed tight when closed.
- Remove Excess Wood
Remove excess wood and lumber from around your home. Don’t leave paper, cardboard, plants, mulch, or other wood products touching your home’s exterior.
And remember, when looking at how to get rid of termites, try and keep in mind that not all termites are bad.
That said, termites can cause expensive and extensive damage to our homes. If you have a serious termite infestation, it may be wise to seek professional help before it gets worse.
Have you had problems with termites in the past? Let us know about your experiences in the comment section below.