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How to Kill Termites

Get some tips on how to kill termites.

There are many types of insecticides that are effective against termites.[©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
There are many types of insecticides that are effective against termites.

How To Kill Termites

Termites cause billions of dollars in destruction across the country every year. A healthy colony can consume a whole foot of a two-by-four in just a few months. Termites can live unnoticed in your home for up to five years, so if you notice bubbling paint or discarded termite wings, both common signs of an infestation, it's time to consider your options. This article will guide you through some helpful tips to rid your home of these destructive little pests.

Liquid Termite Treatment

Liquid pesticides designed to kill termites, or termiticides, are the oldest and most immediate method to get rid of termites. There are two types of liquid termiticides: repellants and non-repellants. Repellants containing permethrin or bifenthrin create a barrier that keeps the termites from crossing into the house. Several hundred gallons of the chemical are pumped into the ground around the house and will keep termites away for several years.

Non-repellants that contain fipronil or chlorpyrifos, like Dragnet, kill the termites after crossing the barrier. Types of non-repellent termiticides are Premise (imidicloprid) and Phantom (chlorfenapyr). These do-it-yourself chemicals and others like them can be purchased online at DoMyOwnPestControl.com or at local hardware stores like Lowes.

Because they can leak into water supplies, liquid termiticides are no longer recommended. A safer alternative is Termidor, a non-repellant liquid termiticide that is more environmentally safe but also more expensive.

Termite Baits

Baits are the preferred method of killing termites, even though they may take months to work. This is because baits aim to destroy the colony itself rather than targeting the termites one by one. Small bait stakes are stuck in the ground around the house. At first, these stakes are only filled with wood and are used to monitor where the termites are most abundant. When the pests have infiltrated the stakes, the wood is replaced with pesticides. The termites take the poison back to the colony, and by feeding and grooming each other, they spread the poison. Termite baits can be purchased online at DoYourOwnPestControl.com or at ePestSupply.com.

Wood Termite Treatment

This method is far more effective as a preventative treatment when building a house. Sodium borate is mixed with water and then applied much like paint to any exposed wood in the home. Sodium borate prevents the termites' stomach from breaking down the wood it eats, so in essence, it causes the termite to starve to death. Alone it will not kill an established termite colony, but can be effective in conjunction with other methods.

Termite Fumigation

This method is only effective on the drywood termite, which is common in the southernmost parts of the United States. Fumigation fills an area with gaseous poison in order to suffocate or poison the termites.

Natural Termite Alternatives

A natural alternative to killing termites is using boric acid instead of pesticides in bait stations. Boric acid is a white, odorless and nonstaining powder that is also nontoxic to humans. When ingested by a termite, the boric acid shuts down the pest's nervous system. The termite goes into shock, and the boric acid will dehydrate the termite. Since termites groom each other and feed each other, the poison is shared among the colony. Boric acid can also be an effective termite preventative when used as a wood treatment and can be found in most local pharmacies.

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