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Do DIY termite treatments work?

Did you know termite damage costs U.S. residents approximately 5 billion dollars each year? No one wants to be a part of that statistic. The problem with these wood-destroying pests is that they move quickly and often unbeknownst to the property owner. A termite infestation is something you must take care of as soon as possible and for some, the first course of action is to take to the internet. Like for many other things in life, there are quite a few “do-it-yourself” solutions for getting rid of termites out there. The question is, do any of them work? We look at some of the most popular methods here.

If you have termites and don’t want to risk missing some of the termites trying to remove them yourself, then contact your local Ehrlich Pest Control office today.

The DIY methods

Termite bait monitoring stations and insecticides

Termite insecticide

There are various ways insecticides are used for termite elimination. They can be directly applied to wooden surfaces, placed in bait monitoring stations, or infused into building materials. Bait monitoring stations (such as the one pictured) are like poisonous bird feeders.

The idea behind them is termites come to get the toxic bait from inside and carry it back to share with the rest of the colony, consequently poisoning them all. The most obvious issue with this method is termites must first find the baiting station to interact with the poison. They are not necessarily attracted to the stations but just happen upon them.

Furthermore, even if some termites do bring the poison back to share with the rest of the colony, chances are good not all members, including larvae and eggs, will get in on the action. Direct application of over-the-counter pesticides and use of pesticide-infused building materials carry the same potential problems


This solution is distinct from other items on the list because it can actually be effective. It is the intensity with which someone must apply it that impacts its efficacy as a DIY solution. In order for heat to be an effective termite control solution the air, and consequently the wood in which the termites live, must be heated to a temperature between 120 and 140℉ for a minimum of 35 minutes. This is quite a difficult task to achieve without the help of a professional.

Orange oil

Orange oil is a widely known DIY termite treatment that claims to break down the exoskeletons of Drywood termites and destroy their eggs. Applied as a spot treatment, this solution only targets Drywood termites, not subterranean. In addition to the damage it can do to furniture and wood structures, research by Dow AgroSciences entitled “Laboratory Evaluation of Efficacy of Orange Oil (XT-2000) for Control of Drywood Termites in Naturally-Infested Boards” found orange oil delivered only a 77% mortality rate in termites.

When it comes to termites, anything less than 100% is unacceptable. Leaving a few behind can be a costly mistake.

Cardboard traps

DIY termite treatments - Cardboard traps

Another DIY termite control solution we often see is the wet cardboard trap. With this method, corrugated cardboard is moistened and set out to attract termites. Ideally, the termites begin to feed on the cellulose of the cardboard and you can then remove and burn it…killing the termites in the process. Unfortunately, the chances of every single termite moving from wood structures to these pieces of cardboard are slim to none. It takes only two termites to “restart” the colony, so if you don’t catch every last one, the infestation comes right back.  


Some people suggest leaving termite-infested furniture out in the sun to kill the termites. The idea here is that the sunlight will both heat up the items and dry out the wood, simultaneously killing off the termites and making the wood less attractive to them.

As we mentioned earlier, it takes significant heat to eliminate a termite infestation, so a few hours in the sun won’t do the trick. The sun may help to evaporate some moisture from the wood, but if a termite infestation is present, it has likely spread to other structures, rendering this practice a futile pursuit.

Beneficial Nematodes

These tiny parasites like to snack on termites and other insects, so some suggest those with termite problems release nematodes into the infected structure(s). The nematodes will either inject deadly bacteria into the termites or parasitize the termite by entering it and essentially eating it from the inside.

There are a few problems with this approach. First, if the nematodes are exposed to too much sunlight or become too dry, they will die. Additionally, it is difficult to be sure the nematodes have eliminated all termites. Many applications may be necessary, which begins to become costly. Not to mention, the longer termites are permitted to forage through your structure, the more damage control you’ll have to do later. Who likes the idea of releasing parasites into their home, anyway?

Boric Acid

Boric acid is a substance, often applied in a powdery form, which interferes with termite digestion when ingested. These digestion issues can be lethal to termites. However, like other items on this list, boric acid has its drawbacks. If the wood is too dry, it will not absorb the boric acid and consequently will probably not reach the termites. Additionally, it is very difficult to expose an entire termite colony to the substance. Without doing so, the infestation lives on.

Diatomaceous earth

DIY termite treatments: Diatomaceous earth

This white powdery substance is made of the fossilized remains of diatoms. Diatoms are tiny aquatic organisms whose skeletons are made of silica. The silica absorbs the oils and fats from termite exoskeletons, causing them to dry out and die.

To use diatomaceous earth for termite control, it must be spread over exposed wood, preventing a barrier for termites. Likely, you will not succeed in covering all wood in your space and the termites will find a way to avoid it altogether. Thus, they don’t die, and you still have a problem.

Things you can do to prevent termites

Though DIY termite treatment isn’t an effective option, there are some preemptive things you can do to detect termite infestations early or even prevent them altogether.

  • Maintain sufficient ventilation and sealing so that structural wood does not get moist and soften

  • Keep woodpiles and mulch away from your home

  • Trim branches away from your home

  • Insert a gravel barrier (or other like material) between soil and wood structures such as porches, etc.

  • Keep an eye out for mud tubes, especially on foundations

  • Test wood for weakness by putting pressure on it or shining a flashlight to check for hollowing

The most effective way to control termites is to call in the professionals. The termite experts at Ehrlich Pest Control have years of experience and access to industry-leading solutions that enable them to formulate a unique treatment plan for your property. Don’t leave the structural integrity of your home or business to chance. Call Ehrlich Pest Control today at 1-888-984-0186 or contact us online to arrange a FREE termite inspection!

To learn more about termites and the damage they cause, check out some of our other blogs:

How to save your home from termites
Drywood termites and subterranean termites — What’s the difference?
Top 5 East Coast states for termites

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