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DIY Termite Killing: For Those Times You Just Want to Take Matters Into Your Own Hands

dead termite illustration
Take them termites out!

If you notice visible signs of termites, chances are they’ve already begun their hostile takeover of your home. Termite damage can be costly and dangerous, so it’s important to take action as soon as possible. Here are a few things you can do to let termites know they’re not welcome.


If you’re willing to do the leg work, you can buy termite pesticides (termiticides) at your local hardware store and create a “barrier” around your home. There are two kinds of termiticides: repellant and non-repellant. Repellant termiticides act as a deterrent, changing the soil in a way that tells termites to head for the hills. These treatments are fast-acting but detectable by termites, allowing them to find other ways to sneak in where they may be a gap. The other type of termite insecticides, non-repellants, require more time but can’t be sensed by termites so they don’t know to avoid the treated area. They can then carry the pesticide back to the nest and spread it throughout the colony, taking out a much larger population (like that time your co-worker came to work with the flu).


When something tastes like cardboard, that usually isn’t a good thing.. unless you’re a termite. The cellulose in cardboard boxes is an irresistible termite delicacy, so cardboard spot traps are an easy and fast way to get rid of a large amount of termites. All you have to have are cardboard boxes and water, and voila! Simply wet the boxes to break down the fibers, then stack them on top of each other in an area where you know termites are active. You can also roll the cardboard into a tube for tight-fitting spaces. Check back periodically and before long, you should have a termite buffet line. Remove the boxes and burn them in a safe area, and always remember to wear gloves. Repeat this process as often as necessary.


You may have used Borax before to wash dishes or laundry, but did you know it’s also an effective pesticide? Boric acid is a cheap, less toxic alternative to commercial pesticides, and can be found at the hardware or grocery store. It can be used in powder form, or dissolved in warm water to make a spray solution that poisons the termites. It’s also good for killing roaches, ants, silverfish and fleas. Unfortunately, boric acid treatments don’t last long and require repeated applications. Try using it in conjunction with Diatomaceous Earth, another non-toxic powder that acts like razor blades and shreds the termite’s exoskeleton from the inside.


Ever heard of a beneficial nematode before? Although it sounds like a type of frog, beneficial nematodes are actually microscopic roundworms that are parasitic on insects. There are other types that are parasitic to humans, but the kind you buy at the garden supply store are 100% safe and non-toxic. Nematodes burrow into a termite host and release a bacteria that poisons and kills the termite in a matter of days. Nematodes also kill other pests such as flies, fleas and ants, but don’t attack garden-friendly insects like ladybugs and earthworms. Nematodes are living organisms that love rolling around in the dirt, so they are only suitable for outdoor use. Unused nematodes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month, next to that package of salad you said you were going to eat three weeks ago..


Much like vampires, sunlight is fatal to termites. Termites require moisture to survive, which is why they get around using mud tunnels. If you know where the colony is in your yard, till the area to bring termites to the surface and expose them to heat and light. Sun exposure is also helpful if you have indoor termites snacking on furniture or smaller items that can be removed from the home; just take the items outside and place them in a sunny area for a couple of days. If the weather isn’t agreeable or you live in a cloudy area, you can also use an ultraviolet lamp to give your unwanted guests a suntan.

While all of these methods are helpful in reducing termite populations, they won’t get rid of them for good. The only way to ensure your home stays termite-free is to have a professional service assess and treat the problem.

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