How To: Get Rid of Termites
Having termite issues? Here’s a guide on how to get rid of termites—and when they should call an exterminator.
Termite infestations can be a real problem for homeowners, with some causing significant, lasting damage. These pests will colonize within a home, feeding on and destroying the house’s wood.
If not addressed promptly and adequately, termites can cause extensive and often permanent structural damage to a home. Homeowners can use DIY methods to control small infestations and prevent future ones, but in most cases, hiring an exterminator is the best bet.
Time required: Several hours to a few days
Estimated cost: $8 and up, $800 to $4,000 for professional service
Before You Begin…
Before a homeowner starts to treat their house for termites, they should first determine where the colony is located and the extent of the damage. Because termites can live within the walls of a home, it is best to call an exterminator to assess the damage, find the colony, and give a quote. Large infestations of termites should always be handled by a professional exterminator, as they have experience, knowledge, and commercial-grade products to manage them.
Termites vs. Ants
Homeowners should determine if they have a termite or ant infestation. Flying ants are often misconstrued for termites since both have wings and antennae. However, the damage caused by flying ants is not nearly as destructive as that of termites. Flying ants are also easier to take care of and most homeowners can handle the job.
Tips for Getting Rid of Termites
- The best way to get rid of termites is to prevent an infestation from ever happening. Homeowners should regularly take steps to prevent termites, such as regulating the amount of moisture in the house.
- Once the initial extermination is completed, homeowners should continue to treat their homes for termites on a regular basis.
- Whenever using hazardous chemicals, wear proper safety goggles and masks.
- Termites can hide in gutters and pipes, so make sure their ladders are secure when investigating high spaces.
STEP 1: Determine the type of termite infestation.
The first step for any homeowner who believes they have a termite infestation is to look for the signs. Examine sagging floors, holes in woodwork, and any hollow parts in the home’s foundation. If the wood falls apart easily, this could be a sign of a termite problem.
Homeowners will also need to determine what type of termite is infesting their house. The most common varieties are subterranean, drywood, and dampwood. Subterranean termites are found anywhere in the United States and thrive in both soil and wood. Drywood termites are primarily in coastal states such as California, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida and live solely in wood. Dampwood termites live in the West and Pacific Northwest but are occasionally found in Florida.
STEP 2: Eradicate subterranean termites with termiticide barriers, termite baits, and beneficial nematodes.
Subterranean termites can be eradicated through a variety of methods. Termiticide barriers and termite baits are professional-level products that set up a perimeter around a home. When a termite eats treated materials and returns to its colony, the termite will die and spread the poison to other termites. Beneficial nematodes are natural parasites that can be used as another eradication method to poison and destroy a colony.
STEP 3: Exterminate drywood termites with essential oils and termiticide.
Termite spot treatment involves drilling holes into the wood where termites nest, filling the holes with termiticide, and sealing the holes. Drywood termites can be also exterminated with household items like essential oils. Orange and neem oils inhibit termites’ ability to shed skin or lay eggs. Mix two cups of water with 10 drops of oil and a squirt of dish soap, then spray it onto the infested area.
STEP 4: Spray boric acid on wood, in the garden, and on any spots where there’s an infestation.
Boric acid is an ingredient found in most termite insecticides and is a reliable method for eliminating colonies. It can be found at any home improvement store and works by dehydrating and killing the termites. Spray it on any areas where termites are present.
STEP 5: Make a DIY trap with wet cardboard.
Another do-it-yourself solution is to create a cardboard trap. This simple method requires taking two wet pieces of cardboard and stacking them on top of one another. The cellulose in the cardboard will attract the termites and they’ll get stuck within the pieces. You can then take the cardboard outside and burn it. This, however, is not an efficient method as it may not kill all of the termites or the colony.
STEP 6: Use diatomaceous earth to get rid of termites.
Diatomaceous earth is a naturally-occurring rock that is turned into a powder. Like other treatments, sprinkling the powder around the infected area will dehydrate and kill the termites.
STEP 7: Hire a professional if you need help or if the infestation is too large to handle with DIY methods.
Because of their scope, termite infestations can be difficult to fully eradicate. If the infestation is not contained to just one area, it’s in a homeowner’s best interest to call in a professional exterminator to handle it.
STEP 8: Set up preventative measures.
The best way to get rid of termites is to not have to begin with. There are simple preventative that any homeowner can purchase and easily apply to prevent a termite infestation.
Termites can be a difficult pest to deal with, especially in warmer weather. For smaller infestations, there are many DIY solutions that homeowners can use and apply to get rid of termites. However, when dealing with large infestations, homeowners should call a professional exterminator to handle the issue.