No one wants termites eating away at the wooden structures in their house. They can destroy large portions of your house, particularly in areas like the basement where wooden structures are essential for holding your house in place. Yet a lot of homeowners are not fond of the extermination process, either. Termite control involves spraying chemicals into the soil around a house, treating the area the termites are eating, and perhaps even a whole house fumigation. A complete termite treatment means a lot of potentially hazardous chemicals are being pumped into and around your house.
Organic termite control is an option somewhere between letting the termites digest your house to pieces and hiring an exterminator to perform a full, chemical treatment. “Organic” officially means derived from natural sources. Many people think of organic pesticides as treatments that are safe to use around people and pets or products that naturally degrade back into the environment. Organic termite control, by this definition, would be a pesticidal treatment taken from natural sources that is environmentally friendly as it dissipates.
Organic Termite Control Products
There are very few truly organic termiticides on the market. Some products feature borates as their primary ingredients. Borates are supposed to ward off insects, including termites, in the same way synthetic insecticides do. The problem with borates is they may not stay in the soil as long as the chemical compounds used by exterminators to treat the soil around your house. They are often not as potent as synthetic options.
Neem oil and orange oil are used as deterrents for termites. Both are natural insecticides useful for keeping pests out of the garden and may work for a small termite infestation or one that is just beginning. Neem or orange oil are probably not strong enough to handle a full infestation.
According to Orkin, the best “green” solution to a termite problem may be bait. Termites take the bait, usually cardboard or paper loaded with a mild poison, back to their colony. The other termites eat the bait as food and then die. This is a slower means of extermination than spray but may help you avoid spraying your house or yard at all. Another option is nematodes, a small organism that infects and kills termites. Nematodes can be applied to the opening of a colony with water.
Mother Earth News, which advocates natural prevention methods like keeping wooden house structures out of the soil, looks into the benefits of permethrin over other termite-killing insecticides. It is milder than other chemicals used to defeat a termite colony but seems to work just as well. Permethrin, however, is not organic since it is made from synthetic materials. It may be the next best things for homeowners who want a natural solution since it is safe enough to wash away with water in the case of spills.
The Most Organic Termite Control is Prevention
If you want a truly organic termite control treatment, the best thing you can do is prevent a termite infestation before is begins or deters. This might be difficult in areas with high levels of termite problems, like the southern US, but prevention may at least control a termite issue enough that a product like neem oil is then sufficient to deter the termites.
Some woods are more resistant to termites than others, like some types of walnut and cypress. Using these woods in the construction of your home may deter termites. The very way your house is built can either attract or repel termites; above ground foundation barriers and securing all wood in concrete so it does not touch soil are very helpful to keeping termites at bay. Termites can make the most of even the smallest spaces to jump from the soil to the wood of your house, so proper sealing is essential if you want to avoid an infestation.
When organic or natural solutions are just as or even more effective than chemical pest control solutions, the choice to go organic is rather obvious. In the case of termites, considering the feedback on organic pest control, you need to carefully consider the risks of using a less than effective means of extermination. A severe enough infestation can leave your home significantly damaged– in the interest of protecting your investment, you might need to guard your home with chemicals that are toxic enough to kill of termite though not harmful to people and animals.
The best, natural step you can take toward protecting your house from termites is implementing the prevention methods mentioned above. This can save you a ton of time and money hiring an exterminator and addressing any damage caused by the termites. It may even reduce the severity of an infestation to the point where organic termite control products are sufficient for killing off these stubborn pests.