Termite Fumigation: It’s hard to believe that something so small can cause so much damage, yet termites (unfortunately) exist.
If you’re dealing with an infestation, don’t panic.
While termites are serious, they’re not invincible, and in most cases, you can get rid of them yourself.
We’ll walk you through how to do it, including how to track termites down and use DIY methods to eliminate them.
Plus we’ve got some tips on how to prevent a future infestation.
Tracking Down an Infestation
Look for signs of an infestation.
You may not see direct evidence of termite infestation.
But that doesn’t mean you should remain ignorant of it.
Sagging floors, holes in woodwork, and hollow parts of your foundation are all serious warning signs of termites.
You may actually see the termites themselves, as well.
- Take a screwdriver and flashlight with you to your basement, and examine crawlspaces and foundation beams by tapping on the wood to check for hollowness and to push the screwdriver into the wood to test for strength. If the wood gives easily and falls apart, you may have a termite problem on your hands.
- When performing this examination, also be sure to keep an eye out for termite wastes. Termite droppings are wood-colored or darker brown pellets of excrement. The presence of these droppings near weakened wood could indicate an infestation.
- You may also find a termite nest on your property; a subterranean termite infestation will build a system of tunnels and tubes of mud, while a dry wood termite infestation will present itself in a nest inside the wood.
Determine the type of termites you have.
There are two general types of termites that might infest your home: subterranean and dry wood termites.
The former is found in both the soil around your home and the wood of your home, while the latter thrive solely in wood.
Subterranean termites can be found anywhere in the states.
- Subterranean termites can be found in wood and compost piles around your home, in addition to the foundational wood.
- Subterranean termites typically do much more damage to a home than dry wood and may require different treatment methods.
Getting Rid of Termites Yourself
Set up a cardboard trap.
Because termites feed on cellulose (cardboard), this makes for an excellent spot trap.
When the cardboard is infested with termites, take it out in a safe area and burn it.
Repeat multiple times, if necessary.
- Note: This spot trap will not solve all your termite problems. It is a quick fix to remove several hundred termites, often at a time. Combine this method with other fixes to deliver a more powerful punch.
Try beneficial nematodes.
Beneficial nematodes are small unsegmented worm species that are natural parasites to garden pests, including termites.
These nematodes search for hosts, such as termite larvae, and burrow into them, usually causing death within 48 hours.
They use the host’s carcass as a place to spawn.
- You can purchase beneficial nematodes at your local garden supply store or online.
- Currently, there are about five varieties produced for sale.
- For use in soil temperatures above 60 °F (16 °C), nematodes should be used immediately after they are purchased.
- If you do not use them immediately, store them in a refrigerator.
- Plant them in the early morning or after sunset, as UV light will harm them.
Expose your wood to sunlight.
If the termite-infested item is not your home but rather a piece of furniture or an item that can be removed from your home, expose it to sunlight.
Termites thrive in darkness, and the heat and light from the sun will kill them.
On a sunny day, place your furniture outside for as long as possible – preferably 2-3 days.
- This method works well in conjunction with the cardboard trap method for capturing/killing the termites.
Freeze the termites.
If you’re in a rainy area and can’t expose your furniture to sunlight, consider an alternative of freezing your furniture to kill the termites.
Place your pieces (or parts of your pieces) of wooden furniture into a large freezer for 2-3 days.
Although this can be tricky for large pieces of furniture.
If you’re able the freezer method should guarantee the death of the termites.
Getting Professional Help
Use boric acid.
Boric acid is one of the most common and effective ways to dispatch termites.
In fact, it is the main insecticide used in many store-bought termite insecticides.
Boric acid shuts down the termite’s nervous system while dehydrating it.
- The best way to kill termites with boric acid is to use bait stations.
- Coat or spray wood (or another cellulose material) evenly with boric acid.
- Plant the boric acid bait in the garden near your house or in an open infestation.
- Check on the bait station regularly and replenish it with boric acid as needed. You should see the termite carcasses nearby.
Purchase and use termite-control products.
Readily available at your local hardware supply store.
Using termite-control products is the first step you need to take to get rid of these harmful pests.
You can use termite-baiting control methods or a liquid termite-killing product.
Lay the bait near infested areas and spray the termite control product on those same areas.
Get a microwave spot treatment.
Call a professional.
If you decide that your infestation is simply too big, or the house is simply too important not to get it right the first time, you should probably call a professional extermination service.
When you call professional exterminators, be sure that you:
- Get at least three different quotes from competing firms.
- Look at the service record of the firm from the Structural Pest Control Board before you decide on employing them.
- Get a written agreement from the firm you are using insisting on complete termite extinction for two years. This may require the firm to come back periodically, check for new infestations, and clear them away — at no cost to you.
Do it yourself professionally.
In most states, you can legally purchase the same products used by the professionals when you are using them for personal use only.
Two top-of-the-line products are Termidor SC and Taurus SC which are applied as a liquid around the exterior perimeter of your home.
These products can be purchased online at a very economical price.
For about a hundred dollars, you can treat an average size house yourself and get professional results if you are willing to provide the labor.
Preventing Future Infestations
Maintain a dry home or apartment.
Termites are naturally drawn to damp and moist habitats because they need water to survive.
So make sure you ratchet up your vigilance about keeping things dry, or else termites will invade.
- Make sure all leaks and standing water, both inside and outside of your home are secured and dry. Broom away or suction up any unwanted water if possible.
- Dirty wet gutters are also an ideal home for termites, so keep your gutters free of debris for further prevention, too.
Use pest repellent.
Adding 0.1% (approximately 1 tablespoon to a gallon) permethrin to paint or wood polish or wallpaper glue while building or repainting the house will keep termites away permanently.
You can even add permethrin to the cement you use to lay flooring or the glue you use to lay wooden flooring.
Since permethrin is a safe pesticide approved for human use, there is no added risk of toxicity.
Keep wood off your property.
Termites obviously feed heavily on wood so keep large amounts of firewood and other loose tree trunks and branches away from your home.
If you maintain large amounts of wood on your property, you are only inviting a termite feast.
If you must keep wood near your home, cover it completely to keep it dry; this will minimize the attraction for the termites.
If you must use wood, treat it with permethrin as above.
Seal any cracks in your home.
By simply caulking and sealing the windows, doorways, and cracks around your home, you are taking the first and most important steps toward making sure that no termites invade and infest your property.
Gaps around electrical wiring and pipes to and from your house are another easy way for termites to traffic themselves into your home.
- Screens on your doors, window and porch are also a necessity if you are wary of a termite infestation.
- Keep vegetation 6–12 in (15–30 cm) away from your home so termites are less likely to come in.
Retreat your house on schedule.
One of the most effective ways to keep your home safe from termite damage is to maintain a protective barrier around the exterior perimeter of your home.
Fortunately, this need not be a major expense if you do it yourself with professional quality products like Termidor SC or Taurus SC.
Both of these contain the termiticide/insecticide Fipronil at the same concentration and are applied as a liquid around the outside perimeter of your home.
Fipronil is very low in toxicity and is highly effective against both termites and ants.
Online sources of information about pest control from vendors such as Do It Yourself Pest Control have videos that show you how to treat your home for termites and do it like a pro. It’s good to watch the video before you buy anything so that you can get an idea of how much work is involved to effectively do this project yourself.
Permethrin is toxic to cats. Don’t use if you have a cat.
Termite damage can ruin a home, so if you aren’t sure of your ability to kill the bugs on your home, call a professional as soon as you’re able.
Spraying pesticides one a week and closing all hole near termite infestation with boric acid is helpful.