Natural / Organic Termite Control

Every year termites attack thousands of homes in the United States. Because of this, homeowners spend billions of dollars treating termites and repairing the damage that they cause.

For many years, termite control involved application of a petroleum–based termiticide. The material was very repellant to termites and it remained active for years. In the late 1980’s, scientists began finding alternatives to these petroleum products.

Today there are several alternatives to petroleum–based termiticides. One of the simplest does not require any chemical application at all. Scientists have found that some types of sand are repellant to termites. They suspect that the termites have difficulty moving the sand particles.

Scientists are studying ways to use this sand as termite barriers under new homes and around existing homes. Scientists are also studying ways to use sand to fill expansion joints and cracks in slabs in order to prevent termites from entering homes.

Borate solutions are often used to treat wood. The borate material is extracted from the ground in mines. The borate products are available as powders and liquids that can be diluted with water. The borate solution is sprayed or brushed onto the surface of the wood. Borates are also available as gels that can be injected into holes in the wood.

The borate material is absorbed into the wood without affecting the wood. The borate material stays in the wood unless the wood becomes saturated with water. If termites try to eat the wood, the borate material kills them. The borate also protects wood against wood–boring beetles, carpenter ants, and decay fungi.

Some of the borate products can be used on wood that is touching the ground. Some of the borate products are intended to be applied to exposed lumber when a home is being built or remodeled.

There are a variety of natural insecticides on the market. They contain active ingredients such as rosemary oil, oil of wintergreen, or citrus extracts like orange oil or limonene. Most of these products kill exposed termites very effectively.

Some of these products are aerosols, so they can be injected into galleries in wood where termites are active. Some of the products can be applied to the exterior foundation. They might be effective against termites that were invading the home by coming up the outside of the foundation. Unfortunately, very few of these products can be used as a soil barrier to protect the entire structure against termites.

Homeowners can protect their home by avoiding any conditions that might make the home attractive to termites. Eliminating any wood–to–soil contact will help prevent termites from entering the home. Landscape modifications — making sure siding does not extend into the soil and making sure the soil in flowerbeds is not higher than the level of the home’s slab — can help prevent termites from invading the home.

Sometimes simple things can make a big difference. Stacking firewood on a rack and moving it away from the house can help prevent termites from feeding near the house. Using a rake to pull mulch 12" away from the foundation can also make the environment less comfortable for termites.

Many pest control professionals offer a free or low–cost termite inspection. These experts can point out maintenance or structural issues that might give termites an easy entryway into the home.