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Natural Termite Control

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Actually, ridding a building of termites without once resorting to poisonous chemicals can be relatively easy.
The insects do not fly into a house, nor do they stay in its timbers.
They live underground in colonies and make regular forays from the nest to nearby supplies of wood and the other cellulose materials they eat.
Interestingly enough, termites will attack only wood that is in direct contact with the ground or that the colony is allowed to build a mud tube to.
The insects, in short, must have a protected and maintained entry to the wood (your house) they eat.
Remove that entry and you've removed the termites.
Termites are controlled most simply and surely, then, by
(1) making sure no wooden portions of a building extend down into the ground,
(2) removing all wood, paper and other cellulose matter from under the structure and around its foundation,
(3) ventilating all damp crawl spaces and
(4) scraping any suspicious mud tubes off the building's masonry or rock foundation.


Boric acid can be used for termite control.
Borate treatments, although often also recommended for post-construction treatments, have a much higher efficacy rate when used as a preventative measure.
You can purchase borate-treated wood, spray or brush a borate solution onto untreated wood, fill voids with borate foam, or dust voids with boric acid.


a well-insulated house has a space between the outside and inside walls, and a ceiling below the roof.
These spaces are filled with materials such as sawdust, wool, straw, cork, or cardboard or paper soaked in diluted borax and dried (to prevent termites from eating it).


Hyptis spicigera
Dried Hyptis leaf powder protects stored millet against termites.

Ash If termites get attracted to a plot spreading ash on the soil is an effective solution. This is especially practical for protecting a drip irrigation tube lying on the soil, as well as the wood of the bucket stand

One can prevent infestation through insects such as ants and termites by building a silo on poles which:
are treated with Paris green, coal-tar or green camphor oil
are surrounded by a layer of sieved wood ashes
are covered with fat or waste oil.
Also waste oil can be poured into the holes before the poles are put into place.

Other natural termite control options have lower success rates on their own, but could be used as part of an eco-friendly integrated pest management plan. Some of these options include:
• Nitrogen “freeze” treatments
• High voltage electricity treatments
• Microwave treatments
• Biological controls, such as nematodes or fungus
• Orange oil applications


Silica gel has been used experimentally as a permanent termite control sprinkled in a building during construction.
Silica gel's effectiveness comes from the fact that it's extremely absorbent . . .
when Silica gel touches an insect's shell, it actually dries a hole in it and then goes on to dehydrate the critter.
Because insects have exo-skeletons, they're the only ones affected by silica gel . . .
and if Silica gel is sprinkled into carpets and chairs, it lasts long enough to kill the eggs left by fleas and their ilk.
Of course, the best part about Silica gel is that it isn't a nerve gas type of insecticide . . .
Silica gel is totally non-toxic to folks and other animals.
soft pine posts which have been treated with salt and pentachlorophenol forced into the debarked wood under pressure.
This process gives up to 30 years of protection against the homesteader's major fencing problems: rot and termites.
The treatment works only when it's done right, of course... processors often skimp on the job.
Sometimes the chemical is barely skin deep.
This trick isn't easy to spot, because timbers are pressure-treated in precut lengths and the penta solution penetrates the end grain to some depth.
Thus the larceny of the makers shows up only when several inches of wood are trimmed away.
It wouldn't hurt to check by cutting four inches off one post in any lot you buy.
Locust wood is heavy, solid, and dense in grain a quality that seems to frustrate termites.
Even a chain saw takes its time chewing through the heart of such a tree.
I've cut into some ancient locust posts pulled out of old fences, and-while they looked wretched on the outside the centers were tough and untouched by borers.


Borate those beams.
Borate treatment may become the standard preservation technique for wood used in gardens and greenhouses; the materials are low-cost and not very toxic.
Just soak fresh-sawn wood in a concentrated solution of borate salt (such as sodium borate) and air-dry the wood.
It's then protected against powder-post beetles termites, mildew and decay fungi.
(For more information, see the July 1987 issue of American Forests, American Forestry Association, 1319 18th St. N.W., Washington, DC 20036.)


Treatment for protection against rot and termites is an essential step in the making of your own fenceposts.
Any wooden posts or other wooden members of an installation that touch (or, in some areas, even come close to) the ground should be thoroughly protected with creosote, Woodlife, or some other such preservative.

Creosote, a low-cost wood preservative, is available in bulk from oil companies or farm supply houses.
The following directions for the use of creosote come from the HAVE-MORE Plan:
Soft woods such as willow, soft maples, beech, and box elder will last only three to five years in the ground as fence posts.
But you can make them last 20 to 25 years by boiling the lower ends in a steel drum of creosote.
Keep the fire near boiling point for five hours, let fire go out, completely fill tank with creosote and let posts soak overnight.
In practice-if you intend to process several hundred posts, 10 or so at a time per 55-gallon drum I doubt that you'll want to boil them unless you have help to watch the fire.
We've used two barrels at once and just soaked the ends of the supports in the chemical.
It's a slow process but could be sped up if you have a lot of drums around.
Another common wood treatment penta preservative is considerably more expensive.
U.S. Plywood's Wood life (which contains 4.2 percent pentachlorophenol in solution) ...you'll need around 20 gallons for 1,000 board feet of wood.
The manufacturers recommend that well seasoned and peeled posts be soaked in the product for 48 hours.

The heartwoods of Arizona and bald cypress, eastern red cedar, black locust, redwood, osage orange, black walnut, northern catalpa and Pacific yew all contain natural compounds that are either toxic or repulsive to termites.

Torpedo and Dragnet, among the least toxic termiticides, both contain permethrin, a synthetic version of a natural insecticide which has long been a favorite of organic gardeners.
Unlike chlordane, which persists in the environment for decades, permethrin-based insecticides biodegrade into simpler compounds in five to seven years. That means they may need to be reapplied if termites return.
In case of an accidental spill, permethrin can be neutralized by exposing drenched soil to sunlight and by washing your body and clothing with soap and water.
Still, don't be lulled into applying permethrin thoughtlessly, since it's highly toxic to fish and bees.
Another chemical is Dursban. Its active ingredient, chlorpyrifos, is an organic phosphate that's more toxic than permethrin and lasts longer.
Chlorpyrifos can be neutralized with a solution of household chlorine bleach.
It can also be removed by activated charcoal filters should it enter your water supply by accident.
Other EPA-registered (that is, approved) termiticides include isofenphos, Cyperethrin and Pydrin, the latter marketed under the brand name of Gold Crest Tribute.
Over-the-counter versions of some of these compounds are available, but do-it-yourself termite spraying is not a good idea.
In fact, the EPA is considering banning sales to the general public of any chemical manufactured to kill termites.

QUESTION: Can you tell us an ecologically sound way to get rid of termites in the walls of our wooden house?
In particular, we don't want to contaminate the water cistern . . . which is right next to the dwelling.
One possible clue to an extermination method is that our northern termites require a wet environment and carry mud up into their tunnels to maintain the humidity.
ANSWER: To those on the West Coast I always recommend the free use of diatomaceous earth, which is sold in that area's supermarkets as cat box litter. (The eastern equivalent is the bagged powdered clay marketed for the same purpose.) Either of these natural products tends to dehydrate and kill the pests. Before you replace the decayed boards, incidentally, I'd suggest soaking the new wood in used motor oil (usually available free from service stations).

the following pests can be reduced by poultry: ticks, mosquitoes, flies, grasshoppers, Japanese beetles, fire ants, termites, pill bugs, grubs, crickets, cabbageworms and millipedes.


I had the Electro-Gun treatment performed, which sends electrical current through the wood and zaps any moisture-containing insects.
It has to be done every few years and is similar in cost to fumigation, but it’s better than poison.
Read more about this technique through Ecola Termite Services, Inc.
For more information about controlling insects (including ants) with a minimum of toxicity, visit Pesticide Watch.

Professionally installed baiting systems are the least invasive and most sought after method for getting rid of subterranean termites.
Although the active ingredients in the baits are toxic pesticides, they’re effective in contained, targeted, gram-sized doses as compared to dumping 100 to 150 gallons around your home.
Baiting systems work by using the termite’s own process of feeding their hoards to deliver poison to the entire colony.
Small bait stations are inserted into the ground around the perimeter of the home.
Non-baited wood is placed in each station and they are monitored quarterly for termite activity.
If termites are found feeding in a bait station, wood baited with the chemical is inserted.
The termites will take the baited wood back to the colony for wider consumption.
“Our baiting system not only stops the termites from feeding on a home, but offers total colony elimination,” says Dave Maurer, marketing manager for the Sentricon System. “And we only use the active chemical ingredient when termites are feeding. When the colony is destroyed, we take the active ingredient out.”
The Sentricon System is accepted as a LEED-approved termite-control system and is currently in use at the White House and the Statue of Liberty. “We place a high-priority on stewardship,” says Maurer. “Quarterly monitoring means we can keep track of treatment efficacy and help catch new colonies before they do damage.”
It can sometimes take several months for a baiting system to destroy a colony, which seems like a long wait. But, most termite damage takes place over the course of years, not months, Maurer says.
Do-it-yourself baiting systems are also available at home and hardware stores.
Extreme heat is the only nonchemical method for destroying drywood termites, and the most proven method for ensuring you’ve completely eliminated a colony. The process is probably the closest you can get to organic termite control.
For whole-house treatment, the structure is tented and hot air is pumped into it. For isolated treatment, the hot air travels through ducts directed into specific areas, such as a wall. Air temperatures must reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit, bringing the wood to 130 degrees (about as hot as a dry sauna), and remain at that level for about an hour.
The price for a full structure thermal treatment for the remediation of drywood termites is comparable to a standard chemical fumigation treatment. But, consider this: “It takes one day compared to three days and two nights. Best of all, its 100 percent nontoxic,” says Ron Ketner, co-owner of AZEX Pest Solutions, an Arizona pest control company. “If you crunch the numbers, a Thermapureheat treatment is much less of a burden on both the environment and your wallet.”