How to Get Rid of Termites and Keep Them from Coming Back
Save your home with these DIY methods and preventive measures
No pest is more cunning than termites—they eat away at your home’s foundation, wood furniture, and structures, and are so good at hiding that you might not even notice their existence until it is too late. #TeamKahoy homeowners dread a termite infestation the most, so it’s important to identify the signs and kill termites permanently before they deal lasting damage to your property.
What are termites?
Termites are insects that feed on cellulose, which they obtain from materials like wood, drywall, paper, cardboard, and furniture. They form colonies with a fertile queen and king, reproduce rapidly and give birth to workers and soldiers who work together to keep the colony alive.
Two types of termites commonly infest homes in the country: drywood termites and subterranean termites. Because termites can feed on wood ‘round the clock and without sleeping, most homeowners don’t realize that they already have a termite infestation.
Drywood termites feed on and nest inside wooden structures. This winged insect’s color ranges from deep yellow to light brown and can grow up to a half-inch.
This type of termite loves to nest underground and invades your home through mud tubes. Their colony is much bigger than drywood termites, with numbers ranging from 100,000 to a million.
What causes termites?
Termites love humid and moist conditions, and the Philippines is an ideal breeding ground for these pesky creatures because of our tropical climate and high level of humidity. They are also attracted to dark and damp spaces, like gaps in the foundation.
Signs of a termite infestation
Termites typically live in a sealed, humid nest in wood or underground. To hide their nest, they may build up a mound in the soil. You may spot it in your backyard or front yard, but it may be tougher to identify if you live in properties like a townhouse or condominium. Here are some tell-tale signs that you have termites in your home.
Termite mud tubes
These are tunnel-like structures made of dust and debris built by subterranean termites so they can travel to their food source and back to the colony without being seen. These can spread along walls, ceilings, or the foundation of your home.
Presence of “gamu-gamo” or discarded wings
On rainy days, you might spot moths attracted to your lights, but these might also be flying termites, also known as alates. These winged insects become termite kings and queens who shed their wings after finding a mating partner. If you spot discarded wings around your house, it is a sure sign of an indoor infestation.
According to Architectural Digest, those strange clicking sounds you hear inside walls or floors may indicate termite presence. When they sense danger, soldier termites may bang their heads against the wood and shake their bodies to warn other termites.
Hollow or damaged wood
If you suspect termites, immediately check wooden furniture or structures. Termites consume wood from the inside out, so you’ll know it’s damaged if you hear a hollow or papery sound when you knock on the wood. Holes on your door, window frames, baseboards, windowsills, or flooring might also indicate an infestation.
After they’ve eaten, dry wood termites leave behind brown and grainy fecal pellets, also called frass. You can spot it around baseboards, windowsills, door frames, and other wooden furniture.
Tight-fitting door or window
When termites consume wood, they create a protective layer that traps heat and moisture. This causes the wood to swell. If you find it difficult to open or close your doors and windows, it may be a sign of a termite infestation.
How to kill termites and keep them from coming back
There are several ways to kill termites, including DIY methods and getting the help of a professional pest control service. Here are some things you can do to get rid of termites in your home.
If you’re dealing with drywood termites
This pesticide can kill termites through dehydration, which shuts down their nervous system. Spray onto infested areas, making sure there are no children or animals around, as the chemical is harmful when ingested.
The active ingredient of this essential oil is D-limonene, which can kill termites on contact. It works by breaking down their exoskeleton and destroying their eggs, which stops them from reproducing. However, this method is not for you if you are looking for a quick solution or have a large infestation.
To DIY a solution, Architectural Digest suggests mixing 2 cups of room temperature water, a few drops of dish soap, and nine to 12 drops of orange oil into a spray bottle. Spray directly on infested areas.
This method can destroy drywood termites’ homes and is best for finished or painted wood, not hardwood. Drill holes in the infested wood, around 10 inches apart. Keep drilling and stop just as you hit the nest. Fill the holes with termiticide, then use wood putty to fill them.
If you’re dealing with subterranean termites
Soil treatment is best done during pre-construction, where repellent termiticide is injected into the soil to prevent termite infestation. Repellent termiticides protect against the entry of termites into the land that you own. It is applied around the house and the termites would deliberately avoid the poisoned soil.
For existing structures, soil injection may be done using non-repellent termiticides. Termites will not be able to detect the chemicals and they will be killed once the termiticide has been ingested. The pesticide will also spread from one termite to another upon contact to slowly kill the colony.
Termite foams, like Termidor, are effective in reaching cracks and crevices where termites hide. It works by filling the area before evaporating, leaving behind a chemical residue that can kill termites upon contact. Do not use this when pets or children are around.
Destruction of mounds
Killing termites does not end by getting rid of existing termites inside the house. One of the best ways to get rid of these pests permanently is to find all mounds and nests and destroy them. Study the area where the infestation is taking place and look for threats that may re-infest the home. It is best to consult a professional for this.
When to call professional termite control
If you think you are dealing with a small infestation, DIY methods are less costly and effective when done at an early stage. Keep in mind, however, that termites can quickly multiply and cause irreversible damage to your property. For your peace of mind, it may be worth paying for a professional exterminator if you are dealing with large-scale infestations. This can save you on extra costs in the long run.
How to prevent termites from coming back
Once you’ve addressed your termite infestation, you can keep them from coming back using these preventive measures:
- Avoid moisture and keep your home dry and leak-free
- Get rid of old and discarded wood. If buying wood furniture, make sure the wood has been treated against termites
- Keep your pipes and gutters clean to prevent damp environments
- Schedule regular termite inspections if possible
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