When termites swarm, they’re looking for a new home to make their colony. You’ll notice that these pests will have wings at times, but more often than not, they’re wingless insects that will eat away at the very wooden beams that help make your home stable.
Anyone who has a termite infestation will want to know how to get rid of termites as quickly as possible.
The longer these pests are allowed to stay in your home, the more damage they’ll do. You can’t just wait until they go away and push the problem to the back of your to-do list. Termites are destructive in nature and will destroy any wooden structure in their way.
Professionals will need to be called in to exterminate a true infestation.
Note: If termites have been in your home for any length of time, you’ll want to have your home examined to ensure that the integrity of the home is still intact.
Usually the first thing people who discover they have an infestation in their home ask is “How do you kill termites?”
Well, it’s simple, just stomp on them…
If only it were that simple right?
Unfortunately how to go about killing termites is a difficult question to answer with a simple answer because it all depends on the type of infestation that is in the structure, what type of termite is present, how old the colony is, where it is located and how extensive it is, as well as the local laws and regulations concerning what pesticides are allowed.
Typically the two main factors are what type of termite is present in the infestation and the location and extent of the infestation. The two main types of termites in the US are subterranean and drywood termites although other types exist around the world.
Here is How To Kill Termites Effectively
Pest control companies have many tools at their disposal to remove and control termite problems in a residential home, commercial buildings, and even in wooden items many people would never consider as targets of termite infestations such as fences, furniture, and porches.
We will briefly touch on many of them, but the main ones are limited to a handful of termite control methods.
Termite Baiting Systems
Termite baiting systems can be effective preventing and eradicating termites although they are more effective at preventing termites than eradicating. In addition to that they require continual service.
What is a termite bait system? It is just like it sounds. They are typically little bait “stations” that are inserted into the ground to attract subterranean termites. These stations usually have either wood or paper treated with a termiticide (insecticide specifically for termites) that is intended to not kill the termite foragers. Instead these worker termites will bring it back to the colony and contaminate the rest of the termites eventually killing the Queen. Once the Queen termites is killed the colony will soon perish without the ability to reproduce.
This entire process can take months to finally kill the queen termite. It can be effective if done correctly but this typically takes the knowledge, experience, and tools of a professional termite exterminator.
There are termite baits that can be purchased at a local hardware store but they are not something that you can just throw in the ground and sleep easy at night thinking your home is safe from a termite infestation.
This method of killing termites can be cheap if you opt for a Do It Yourself termite bait system but you are essentially gambling with a very valuable investment, you home. The much lower price of termite bait systems compared to professional extermination may seem appealing, but you have to ask yourself “Is it worth the risking the value and structural integrity of my home?”
Now if you backyard fence seems to have signs of termites and you want to take a chance with killing those termites yourself that is a different story. However, even in cases like this, remember that having termites in any proximity to your house posses a risk that they will eventually discover the lumber in your house.
Typically a pest control professional will install them and then would need to do a monthly or quarterly check up on them to see if there is any termite activity. They will also need to replace the bait eventually.
What Termites Look Like
One of the most confusing things about termites is that they look just like ants. It’s amazing how termites look like ants because they even have wings at certain times in their lives, much like flying ants do.
A lot of people ask are termites ants?
The answer is no.
But their appearances are similar. You need to be able to tell the difference between the two so that you know what type of infestation you have.
【Read more about Termites】
Winged Termites and Winged Ants
There are two types of termites that exist: winged and wingless. Both of these pests look like their ant counterparts, but there are ways that a person with a trained eye will be able to accurately identify both of these pests.
But, you also need to know why termites have wings in the first place.
Winged termites are called termite swarms. The term “swarm” comes from the termite’s ability to fly in swarms and scout out new areas for a colony. These termites will swarm at different “seasons,” depending on the type of species. But one thing always stays the same: termites only swarm in warm weather.
You won’t see flying termites out and about in the middle of winter.
【Read more about Flying Termites】
Swarming occurs at a random interval when subterranean termites are at least 3 – 4 years of age. There needs to be a certain level of maturity of the termite before they’re able to swarm. When the time is right, the termite will grow wings and take flight.
Following a heavy rainfall and warm, humid temperatures, termites grow wings and establish a new colony. This is a mating season, and both males and females will grow wings. As they fly to scout out their new ideal location for a colony, they’ll often choose a home for their colony, and if they choose your home, it’s nothing to be thrilled about.
If you see winged termites in the home, it’s likely a mature colony that has been present for a while.
Wings may often be found on window sills or on the floor, and this means that the termite has mated, and is going to burrow into the mud and lay eggs. The female will become the queen of her own colony, and the queen can live a good life that allows them to become plump and fat.
The main goal of the female termite is to reproduce.
Some of these females can lay up to 250 million eggs in her lifetime, but the queen never makes it back to the surface. Some female termites can produce 30,000 eggs in a day. These queens sacrifice a lot for their colony. Huge in size, these pests have small legs that can’t propel them, leaving them immobile.
Her king will remain with her for her lifetime, which can last up to 15 years.
Soldiers and workers will make their way up into a wooden structure and will create shafts that allow them to access their queen and king. It’s an elaborate system, and this system allows termites to be able to survive in the wild.
How to Identify a Termite Vs Ant
What color are termites? Are termites black? These are the questions people always ask. Termites are either black when they’re of the subterranean species or red when they’re drywood swarmers.
- Subterranean Nesting Habits: The subterranean species will nest in the mud and stay in the group. You’ll often find that there are large mounds present if a subterranean colony exists.
- Drywood Nesting Habits: Drywood species will nest inside of the wood in the home.
Both of these termites will cause damage to the home. Subterranean species will make mud tubes that go through the ground and enter into your home. In both cases, your home will be the main source of food for these unwanted pests.
And when trying to distinguish between the termite and ant, differences can be seen in these areas:
- Antennae: The antennae of the termite are straight. Ants have bent antennae.
- Wings: If the termite has wings, they’ll be of equal lengths. Interestingly, ants have uneven wings.
- Waist: The waist of the termite is straight, while ants have a pinched waist with a larger “bulb” at the end.
In terms of length, both of these insects are similar in size. Termites are about 3/8 inch in length, or 0.95 cm to 1 cm in length. Workers will be slightly smaller in size. If you find a termite and can examine them, you’ll find that the legs are short and stubby. There will be six legs in total.
There will be four total wings on a winged termite; two wings on each side.
Some people ask are termites insects? Yes. And for the homeowner, there are two main types of termites to be worried about:
Or, non-winged and winged.
Soldier termites do exist, and the goal of these pests is to protect the colony against any enemies that may attack. The mandibles of the soldier are larger than the worker.
Are termites blind?
Workers are blind, and they’re also paler in color.
Why Are Nematodes Beneficial?
The benefits of nematodes are numerous and shouldn’t be taken lightly. They include:
- 100% Natural – Nematodes don’t negatively affect humans, pets, or plants. This is the opposite of other common methods of termite control like fumigation and poisoning.
- Effective – Nematodes are among the most effective methods of termite control. They don’t stop working after killing just one termite. Instead, the feed and multiply inside the dying pest before moving on to others.
- Long-Lasting – A small batch of nematodes will prove effective for a long time. The creatures breed and multiply after first application, ensuring they’ll keep killing termites for weeks on end.
- Fast-Acting – Nematodes kill termites in as little as 24 hours. It’s rare that the process takes anything longer than 48 hours.
- Kill Other Pests – The pest control benefits of nematodes aren’t just limited to termites. They also kill a variety of other common household pests.
Other Termite Control Options
There are a variety of other pest control options to try if killing termites with nematodes fails.
Though beneficial nematodes are highly effective at controlling termites, there are certain situations in which they just don’t do the job. If this is the case, the following termite control methods might prove more effective:
- Remove Food Sources – The easiest way to control termites is to take away their food sources. Home termite infestations often stem from termites feeding on dead trees or piles of wood. Remove these to eliminate the beginning point of an infestation.
- Install a Barrier – Make it more difficult for termites to enter your home. Install screens and caulk any cracks. Installing a barrier of sand or wet cardboard around your home will also help ward termites off.
- Use Chemical Treatment – Chemical treatments are sometimes more effective than natural treatments like nematodes. However, they’re also more dangerous to the health of humans, pets, and plants. Follow the instructions exactly to ensure your family’s safety.
- Hire a Pro – Hire a pest control company that specializes in termite extermination. Find one that will use the latest chemical treatments in favor of nematodes.
Who Is the enemy?
If you see that the swarm is emerging directly from underground, you can be 100 percent sure you got yourself a subterranean termite infestation.
This termite species builds their nest in the soil, that protects them from direct sunlight and gives them a moist environment they need for survival.
Learn more about subterranean termites: signs of their activity; best methods of treatment and DIY methods. Eastern subterranean termites and their tunnels and tubes with photo.
In the worst case scenario, you might have the infamous Formosan termites in your garden.
This species, not native to US, are the most destructive pests for the households. This is mostly due to the incredible size of their colonies.
In full development the Formosan termite nest can sustain millions of individuals. And If the sign you noticed is a swarm – it is an adult colony.
Killing the subterranean termites, while they seem to only nest in your garden without attacking your home, is extremely important. The termite has no plan and forages in any wooden construction they can find in contact with soil.
And the chances are – one day they will find your house. So the best you can do is to eliminate the colony before this happens.
What are the other signs of the infestation?
Termite swarm means the colony has reached its full development and might already be there for few years, then you should consider yourself lucky, if you still don’t have them in your house, but there can be other signs:
- Hollowed wood.
- Termites in soil.
Make an inspection of small wooden structures, trees and stumps in your backyard. Take a screwdriver and tap with the dull end on wood – if the sound feels a bit hollowed, pick it with the sharp end. You will see if the wood is damaged, and maybe even catch some termite workers on crime scene.
Take some time and check if you might see any termites in the soil itself. The best way to do so – is to dig slightly your flowerbeds, if they are covered with any kind of mulch (it creates good conditions for subterranean termites to nest) and around the tree roots.
When you find the insects, make sure it’s termites and not ants, so you don’t waste your time fighting a wrong enemy.
Advice! If you’re not sure that you can tell termite from an ant, you can collect some samples and bring them to your local pest control office for the identification.
And coming back to the swarm, you always might skip the moment it actually happened. But afterwards you might see a lot of shed wings around your garden and on the windowsills.
If you found them, remember that winged termites never end up too far away from their nest. So, the more wings you notice – the better chances that the colony is very close.
How to kill termites in yard?
When you find a small infestation in the garden, for example in a stump, your first instinct might be to burn it. It’s simple, doesn’t take much time and everyone inside is definitely dead afterwards. Don’t rush, remember that that way would work only with drywood termites.
The Subterranean ones have their nest somewhere else and if you burn the infested wood you will only make them find another place for foraging. So you might be directing them toward your house. So, if you found even a small sign of infestation – fight it for real.
So, how to get rid of termites in the garden? There’re so many different methods of DIY and professional anti-termite treatments that it’s not surprising to get confused. There’re several things you can do for the termites in your garden:
- Baiting stations.
- Soil treatment.
- Wood treatment.
How to get rid of termites in your garden, in case of the colony? The baiting system is, possibly, the best way of getting rid of termites in the garden that ensure the full pest extermination.
There’re two kinds of baiting stations on the market:
- with termiticide;
- without termiticide.
Here you can learn more information about termite bait systems: Advance, Green, CSIRO, Nemesis, Exterra, Firstline, Terminate. Also find out how to make baits by yourself and how to refill them?
The stakes that already have a bait poisoned with termiticide are usually the ones the can be a completely DIY method. For these ones you just need to install them around your house or in other strategical places, where you’re sure that termites will find it and wait for the results.
Very important in this treatment is to choose the termiticide that has a delayed poisonous action. Then the workers, that collect the bait will have time to bring it to the nest and share it with other members. This will slowly but surely reduce the numbers of the colony and bring it down in several weeks.
One flaw about the usage of pretreated stakes is that the termites might figure out that eating on the cardboard inside this particular stake brings death too early. For this you can use the untreated stations first.
The baits without termiticide basically just have a delicious snack for termites inside and a monitor on top. After the placement of those traps you wait until the monitor shows the sign of termite activity, and when this activity is constant and high you add the insecticide of your choosing and enjoy the fall of termite’s empire.
How to control termites in the garden if you know with certainty where’s the nest? First of all, you can do a simple version of the treatment and just pour gallons of termiticide on it. But there’s always a chance that the nest you found is only a satellite colony and destroying it will not bring the results you hope for.
So, the soil treatment is important, but mostly as a prevention method. You can put a chemical barrier between the termites and every wooden structure on your land, starting from the house and finishing with stumps. At least it will give you time to fight the infestation without rush.
Important! Remember that the soil treatment doesn’t last forever. You need to renew it every several years, depending of the active ingredient of the termiticide.
How to treat for termites in the yard when you have small wooden structures in your yard, or your house has features that come in direct contact with soil? You should treat the wood, before it got infested.
The repellent termiticide can be applied with the spray or a paintbrush.
The wood treatments often last for the whole period of life of the wood, so you’ll need to do this only once.
There’re also totally eco-friendly natural termiticides you can use for this, such as orange and other oils.
If you interested in more information of termites we recommend you to read the following articles:
- All types of termites. Are they harmful to humans? Can they bite you? And what is the difference between drywood and subterranean ones?
- What does swarmers of different species look like: drywood, subterranean, formosan?
- Signs of infestation outside and in the house: in walls or furniture.
- How to treat them at home and in the yard: in wood or in fence. How long this process lasts and what is pre-construction treatment?
- What does termite holes look like? What is droppings and is it toxic to humans? Do termites make noises?
- Posible termite damage, how does it look like? Examples of damage in walls and wood floors.
- All about flying termites: how do they look like, swarming season and what to do if there are swarmers in your house?
- How do they do nests and mounds? How to find it in your garden or inside the house?
- Termite life cycle – from egg to larvae. And social hierarchy: workers, soldiers, queen.
- Did you know that termites can infest living trees, for example a palm or a pine tree. They also like to live in stumps.
- You can prevent the infestation by using barriers, such as: HomeGuard, Physical systems, Safeguard, Stainless steel mesh, Kordon.
- If you want to get rid of termites naturally, learn more about such methods as: heat or cold treatment, orange oil, using nematodes.
Remember that all this can be also done by professional exterminators.
If you’re completely unexperienced with DIY methods – make a contract with the pest control operator and call for them, whenever you suspect the presence of the subterranean termites nearby.
The annual inspection also will take your mind of constant search for the termite activity signs.
Whatever you choose, do not ignore termite activity in your garden. Do something about it now and you won’t need the costly damage repairs later.
Let the Sun Shine In
Termites are like little vampires. They actively avoid the sunlight. In fact, exposure to direct sunlight can kill them. If you find a termite nest near your home, you can bust it open to expose the pests to the sun. You can also carry logs, furniture, or other infested items into an area of your yard that gets direct sunlight, thereby killing the termites and preventing their spread into your home.
If you find termites already in your home, you can’t exactly cut out the wall and haul it into the middle of your yard. But you can rent or buy UV lamps that have the same effect as the sun’s rays and shine the lamps toward the infestation. If the termites go deeper into the home, you may not be able to reach them all, so sunlight can’t be an effective solution for total eradication in some cases.
Apply Botanical Treatments
Every creature has natural enemies and poisons that will bring it down. For the termite, one of them is orange oil, which contains d-limonene. This compound kills termites as soon as it touches them, making it a very effective north Phoenix termite control treatment. Just apply the orange oil directly to the termites and the affected area. You will have the most success on dry wood termites.
You can also use neem oil to treat termites. You have to apply the oil to the affected area and then wait for the termites to chew up the wood with the oil on it. Once the termites eat the oil, they are poisoned to death. You will likely have to apply neem oil a few times to get rid of all the termites.