How to get rid of termites in garden soil?

How to Eliminate Termites in Soil

In order to eliminate termites from your soil effectively, you must learn the ins and outs of treatment, care and prevention techniques. If you feel you have a small self contained termite problem, there are things you can do yourself to try and erradicate these wood destroying pests. If the problem becomes too large, or if they begin to infest your home, you will need to call a professional to assist you with the wood infestation problem. Here is a quick checklist of what you can do as a first measure in attacking your termite infestation in your soil.

Step 1 – Find out the Type of Termite

Take some measures to find out what you have infesting the soil. Go through a portion of your soil, trap one of the termites and gather them in a sealed contained with a few holes for air ventilation.There are many different types of termites that can burrow in the soil and eventually get to the foundation of the house, making their way to the portions of wood in your home. While the application steps are relatively the same, the type of product you use will vary based on the type of termites. Using the wrong application on a different termite species will cause rapid proliferation of your termite colony because you likely will not recheck for infestation problems until the colony has become out of control.

Step 2 – Locate the Colony

Do your best to locate the colony. Find the main nest. Mark the nest with a wire flag or metal post to return and treat it.

Step 3 – Lay the Bait

Baiting is a great solution if your colony is new and small. As it takes longer than other methods of termite elimination, only use it when you are sure the problem has just arisen. Lay down several layers of bait on top of and within the soil. Baiting stations include wooden monitors and treated monitors. Use the wooden monitor to bait the termite the treated monitor will eliminate the pesky critters.

Step 4 – Apply Termiticide

Apply Termiticide directly to the soil. As the termiticide intrudes the soil, it bonds to the outter most layer of the soil particles. Camouflaged as regular soil, the termites are not aware of the toxicity you have just introduced. Termites brush up against the poison and eventually carry it back to their colony and primary nesting area. They kill their colony by exposing them to the Termiticide.

A few notes about the application:

  • Always apply the Termiticide when you expect to have a good spell of dry warm weather. Rain will wash away the toxin and your application will render useless.
  • During application and for several weeks after, do not disturb the soil. Do not plant, replant to unplant anything near the nesting area and colony.
  • Refrain from using a sprinkler in the general vicinity of your application. Again, this will reduce or eliminate the effectiveness of your treatment

How to Kill Termites

2. Wings

Termites have wings.

You may find discarded wings near windows, door or other home access points.

When termites find the right place to dig through the wood, they twist their wings off as they know that they won’t need the wings again.

Termite wings are of the same size unlike ant wings. Take a closer look at every corner of your house. If you find wings then an immediate action needs to be taken.

3. Mud Tubes

Mud-tubes can be found near trees or sheds or where the ground connects your house.

As you know, termites require certain temperature to survive. They will thrive at places where there is moisture content.

The tubes or tunnels they make blocks cool or dry air to retain enough moisture. You may remove a section of the tube to see if any termites crawl out.

Termites can be fast in rebuilding their new nest. Action needs to be taken before they destroy your house.

4. Flashlight and Screwdriver

You need to go to the basement of any part of your house to check the hollowness of your wood.

Woods are not hollow until it is eaten up from inside. You need to push the wood with the screwdriver and test for its strength.

If the wood falls out easily it is a sign of termite problem.

5. Brown Pellets of Eexcrement

Take your flashlight and look for termite excrement.

Termite droppings may be dark brown pellets or wood coloured. These droppings are found near weakened wood that indicates termite infestation.

What Kills Termites?

There are many things that kill termites.

There are certain chemicals that can immediately kill the termite population of a particular colony. However, there may be restrictions on using certain chemicals in your locality. It might be against the law.

A licensed professional can do this job for you. You need to be careful before using the chemical treatments.

1. Permethrin Dust

This chemical gives immediate results. It is a natural insecticide that remains effective for a longer period of time.

It is not only effective for termites but also for ants, ticks, wasps, bag-worms, ground beetles, etc.

This is one of the favourite chemicals of the homeowners and professionals.

2. Arsenic Dust

This is again an effective chemical to wash off termites.

If one termite comes in contact with arsenic dust then probably other termites of the same colony will become a prey.

Arsenic dust is of cannibalistic nature. This means that the chemical will be transmitted from the dead termites to other insects who feed on them.

Warning: Keep the Wood Maintained That Doesn’t Catch Damp.

Damp wood can be the biggest cause of termite infestation. Termites require an environment that has the right temperature and humidity level.

Always check if your wooden floor and doors to avoid termite attack. Dry wood will usually not have termite infestation.

3. Low Temperature

Low temperature will terminate termites from your house.

Low temperature would mean-20 degree Fahrenheit. You would need liquid nitrogen to bring the down the temperature.

4. Flooding Kills Termites

Simply drown the termites to get rid of them.

If you have a garden and you see small mud-tubes created then dig through it and flood that area. In this way you can naturally get rid of them.

5. Sunlight

If there is not enough sunlight penetrating your home then it is likely that termites will destroy your house.

Sunlight plays an important role in killing the termites naturally.

Do not keep the windows close during the daytime. Let enough sunlight come in.

6. Salt Kills Termites

Salt can be an effective and natural method to kill termites.

You just have to fill a jar with equal part of salt and warm water. Yes, it should be very salty.

Take a syringe and fill in with salty water. Inject it into all the affected areas. Termites will die out of dehydration.

How to Kill Termites Yourself

There are innumerable ways to kill termites. Different termites will require different treatments.

You may either get the things from the local market or make your own DIY solutions. Here are some other ways to kill termites.

Killing Drywood Termites

1. Electrocution

This may sound weird, but this is one of the most effective methods of eradication termites.

It is not necessary to drill holes but if you do so it will be more effective.

2. Orange oil

Orange oil is simply the extract from the orange peel. It is not soluble in water.

You should be very careful in handling this oil as it is dangerous for humans.

If you intake the oil by mistake you may suffer from stomach problems. Also, it will irritate your skin or eyes.

Orange oil is used to treat a variety of insects by destroying their cell membranes.

You need to drill a small hole in the infested wood and pour the oil into the hollow spaces. Results will be seen within a week or two.

3. Sunlight

As discussed earlier, sunlight is the most non-cost effective way to kill termites.

Termites like darkness and once exposed to light and heat can help in sweeping them off. For example, if your table or chair is infested, you can take them out in sunlight and leave it for 2-3 days.

Killing Subterranean Termites

1. Boric acid

Boric acid is a natural insecticide that dehydrates the insects and stops their nervous system. You may coat or spray the wood with boric acid.

Please beware. This acid can be toxic if inhaled.

You need to use mask and gloves while using the acid. Keep your pets and children away from this substance.

2. Nematodes

Nematodes are worm species that look out for hosts like termites. It can be used in a spray form that will kill termites in approximately 48 hours.

Nematodes are not harmful to plants, humans or pets. They only concentrate on insects and destroy their colony in no time.

Remember that nematodes should be used immediately. If you are not using them immediately then store it in a refrigerator.

Use them either in the early morning or after sunset.

3. Bug bombs

Bug bombs consist of liquid insecticide and are available in pressurized aerosol cans. They are easily available at grocery stores.

When sprayed, it falls on the floor and other areas. After termites come in contact with this toxic substance, they die.

The bombs, however, do not penetrate the wood or reach termite nests. Wear a mask when you use the bug bomb.

DIY Termites Control

1. Cardboard Trap Method

You need flat strips of cardboard.

Wet the cardboard and stack them where termites are usually found. Termites feed on cellulose and cardboards have cellulose.

Once the cardboard gets infested by the termites, you may take it out and burn them. This process should be repeated multiple times to get the best results.

Understand that this is just a quick fix and might not solve the major termite problems. In that case you may require some other treatment methods.

2. Termite Baits

The market is flooded by termite baiting systems.

You do not require any chemicals to inject it into the soil. All you need is termite baits that you can directly place into the ground.

The termite will feed on it and will die. Baiting can be a great DIY tool to not only kill the termites but also monitor the places where termites might breed.

Baiting can be used at places where pesticides or chemicals might be dangerous for the soil or plants.

Natural Ways to Get Rid of Termites

Here are the 5 simple ways to kill termites naturally:

1. Using a cardboard trap: The DIY section discusses on how to eradicate termites using cardboard trap. This cost involved in doing this DIY will be around $0.15.

2. Eliminating moisture: Keep all the wooden structures dry. Do not let moisture seep into the wood. The moment it seeps in, there is a possibility of termite infestation.

3. Using heat and cold methods: As already discussed, extreme heat or extreme cold can destroy the termites immediately. You may use the microwave technique or the liquid nitrogen technique to kill the termites.

4. Exposing to sunlight: Exposing the wood to sunlight can be very helpful. Although it can be a slow process, but termites will die as and when the day passes.

5. Nematodes: Nematodes feed on termites, bacteria, and other creatures. They do not harm the environment and are safe to use. It may cost you some money, but the treatment is effective enough to eradicate the termites.

Termite Treatment Cost

How much does it cost to get rid of termites?

It totally depends on what type of treatment you are doing.

If you are doing DIYs then it will cost almost nothing as compared to buying things or getting professional help. Again, in certain cases you need to invest when termites are in huge population.

For example, if you are not taking a professional help and want to do things on your own then consider using the chemicals mentioned above.

When you use a boric acid, it may cost around $7/oz.

If you are using nematodes as a natural treatment then it would cost you approximately $20 per 1 million nematodes.

Electrocution cost will depend on where you live. Also, whether you are planning to buy or rent it will determine the cost.

To perform special wood treatments you need to buy chemicals. Take the example of products that have borate (like Bora-care).

Borate is basically a type of salt that is used to kill the termites.

It is a low toxicity wood preservative and doesn’t affect the environment much. It penetrates into the wood completely and destroys the termites immediately.

The cost of borate will be around $50-$280 depending on the size.

If the problem is big and you feel that professional help is required then consider shedding out $300-$400. It is always better to prevent and control the occurrence of termite to avoid paying huge sums.


Now you might know everything about how to kill termites. It’s time to take some action. Let’s kill termites and get rid of them for good.

Note: this article may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I may be paid a referral fee at no expense to you.

Even though termites don’t eat live plants, their nesting and foraging habits make it difficult for your Daisies and Marigolds to thrive.

Yes, you can get rid of these insects, but a lot of pest control options only offer chemical treatments that can absolutely kill your garden.

So what do you do? Are there other ways to kill termites without killing plants?

Fortunately, there are. You can get rid of termites without having to sacrifice the greens in your home. Here are the best ways to do it.

Let A Pro Handle It.

Get a no obligation quote from a pest control pro near you:

Termites can destroy gardens but so do chemical treatments. CC Image courtesy of Anita Hart on Flickr

​Use termite baits

The first treatment we’re recommending is baiting. It doesn’t use a flood of chemicals, so it gets the job done without killing plants.

If you haven’t heard about it yet and as you can guess from its name, this contraption baits termites and kills them. It’s a good tool to exterminate termites as well as to keep track of their feeding grounds.

Baits are classified into how they’re installed, below ground and above ground. To state the obvious, below ground baits are borrowed into the soil while above ground baits are positioned into termite-active areas that are located on the ground.

Here’s how you should use baits:​

  1. ​Lure termites with prebaiting. Place stations with untreated wood or inspection cartridges in the soil, and just let termites get to them.
  2. Monitor how regularly termites feed in your stations.
  3. Make sure a lot of them are now regularly feasting in your wood monitors.
  4. Replace the monitor wood with the active bait, the one with the toxicant (a toxic substance that sticks to the termites and spreads into others to kill them).

These toxicants can eradicate colonies without killing plants. A lot of pest control services and homeowners have turned to baiting to get rid of termite problems without using harmful chemicals.

Use orange oil

Orange oil is famous for naturally exterminating termites. It comes from a plant itself, so it makes sense it wouldn’t be able to kill other members of the leafy kind.

Collected from orange rind, this natural termite treatment is sold for being chemical-free. It has D-limonene, a pest-control substance that melts insect’s exoskeletons. What it does is that it kills termites by destroying their exoskeletons and cell membranes. It also removes water and protein from their bodies and keeps them from feeding.

Orange oil works wonders without killing plants. Use it as a spray for termite-infested places, or bore holes into infested wood and pump orange oil into it. You can also pump the oil into termite infested trees as it won’t do anything to those tress.

Remember this though. For humans, orange oil can be dangerous. You should handle it carefully because it can irritate your skin and your eyes, and it can also cause an upset stomach if ingested.

Use Aloe Vera

Save your plants with another plant. Use Aloe Vera.

Sure, this one is a bit of a long shot, but it’s guaranteed to be harmless to your yard. Aloe Vera can exterminate termites without killing plants.

There are no special plant species to buy or unique treatments that you have to do. Just take an Aloe Vera from your garden, and cut off its leaves. Cut the leaves into little pieces and crush them with a pestle. Combine the leaves with a little bit of water following a 1:5 ratio. Put the mixture in a spray bottle, and spritz termite infested areas in your yard.

Because this natural treatment isn’t immediately potent, you have to repeat the spraying for several days.

Other things you can do for your plants

Aside from these treatments, you can also play defense and prevent termites from entering plant-rich places in your yard. Here are some tips to keep termites from messing with your plants.

  • Fix plumbing issues outside your house. Garden hoses, pipes and faucets should not leak and make puddles that soak into your soil.
  • With that said, keep a close eye on your garden soil’s moisture level.
  • Don’t over water your plants.
  • Remove dead trees, rotting branches and any other dead wood in the yard.

There aren’t many options out there to get rid termites without killing plants. As you’ve most likely noticed, a lot of the methods we mentioned are natural and can be done without help from professionals. But those are what make these treatments amazing because they’re harmless to nature and very doable.

Last Updated on May 9th, 2019

I believe my third grade friend Thomas Robinson told me my first urban legend. With all the solemn believability a nine-year old could muster, he recounted the story of the Doberman found choking on two severed fingers. “It really happened!” he exclaimed. “My brother knows a guy who lives on the same block as the second cousin of the dog’s owner!”

It amazes me that on my radio show I get questions about the “safety” of using wood chips.

Wood chips are readily available and are quite useful in the landscape. My neighbor Kim has an area that isn’t paved where he parks the family’s second vehicle. Every six months, Kim contacts a local tree company and asks them to drop off a load of chips when they are in the neighborhood. He uses the chips as mulch under shrubs and trees in the back yard, as ground cover in the dog kennel and as filler for the ruts under his SUV. I have never worried that he should have a fire extinguisher handy when he receives his chips. If you have ever wondered how and where to use wood chips, here are the facts:

Wood Chip Myths


Dr. Kim Coder, Extension Forester at the University of Georgia, says that wood chips do contain small amounts of chemicals that can harm plant roots. However, this can happen only when a thick layer (six to twelve inches) of chips is spread under a plant, not the thin layer most folks use.

Black walnut trees contain a chemical that inhibits plants that grow nearby. Most of the inhibition, called allelopathy, comes from the tree roots. To be on the safe side, don’t put fresh walnut chips under your azaleas and do let walnut leaves rot before tilling them into a vegetable garden. Wood chips from other trees, though, can be spread in a two-inch thick layer under trees and shrubs without harming them.


Okay, they can rob nitrogen from your other plants – but only if you mix the chips into the soil. On top of the soil? No problem. Bacteria and fungi in the soil need lots of nitrogen to break down the coarse fiber in wood chips. If the chips are mixed with the soil in a flower bed, the plant leaves will turn light yellow (chlorotic) because the bacteria abscond with the nitrogen they need.

Don’t worry if you just finished tilling wood chips into your Mom’s bulb bed. Just remind her to fertilize twice as often next spring to supply the nitrogen that soil creatures and her plants need. The same advice applies when you have had a tree stump ground down in your lawn. The shavings are impossible to remove completely before planting grass. Mix a pint of 10-10-10 fertilizer into the area and plant without worry.


Termites are an integral part of nature. Their job is to decompose the limbs and stumps you are too busy to remove.

Termite expert Chip Prevatt points out that by mulching the landscaped areas around your property, you create the perfect environment for termites to live, eat, and thrive. While these areas are “attractive” to the termite once they randomly find them, they do not (nor does the mulch itself) “attract” termites. Termites do not smell the mulch (or other cellulose material) and come running.

Subterranean termite colonies forage randomly and continuously. They find their food sources accidently and then leave a pheromone trail for other worker termites from the colony to follow to that food source. While part of the colony is feeding on that source, other workers are looking for other food sources.

Termites in a stump are no problem but thickly mulching your home’s foundation shrubbery with wood chips is inviting trouble. To be safe, keep all mulch materials at least twenty four inches from your home’s foundation.


Industrial compost piles are much larger than a homeowner pile would ever be. If a homeowner chip pile contains lots of green wood, the center of the pile may become hot – but not hot enough to burn. A pile six feet tall and fifteen feet wide might give off a small plume of steam (condensed water vapor) on a chilly morning. Fortunately, though, steam is not the same as smoke.

I tested a compost pile last summer that had been purposely built to heat up quickly. On a ninety-five degree day, the center of the pile registered one hundred and thirty five degrees Fahrenheit. It was too hot to touch, certainly, but it would have had to be tremendously hotter to make smokin’ compost!

But maybe I’m wrong!

Sharon L. contributes: We had a big load of wood chips delivered and dumped on our driveway several winters ago. We came home late one night and saw smoke coming from the pile in the headlights. My husband got a rake and raked to the middle and it had red hot glowing embers throughout the whole middle of the pile. He got the hose and doused the pile and cooled it off and we left it spread out and of course distributed it as fast as possible. There was no hot center again but there were a lot of wood chips that were totally charred. We were really upset that it looked like we almost had a fire so close to the house especially since it had rained the day before and the chips were wet.

Say, did I ever tell you about the guy who tried to make methane from pig manure? Seems he left it in his second bathroom to “cook” overnight and it blew up! Since it was a little-used room, he just taped the door shut and ignored it until he was ready to renovate a few years later. Now that’s a true urban tale!

Tags For This Article: myths, wood chips

Wood Mulch And Termites – How To Treat Termites In Mulch

It’s a well-known fact that termites feast on wood and other substances with cellulose. If termites get into your house and are left unabated, they can wreck the structural parts of a home. Nobody wants that. Many people are concerned about termites in mulch piles. Does mulch cause termites? If so, we wonder how to treat termites in mulch.

Does Mulch Cause Termites?

You may, on occasion, see termites in mulch piles. But mulch does not cause termites. And termites don’t typically thrive in mulch piles. Termites typically pre-exist deep underground in moist environments. They tunnel through the earth to find woody food products for their food.

Mulch typically dries out enough that it is not a conducive environment for termites to build a nest. Termites in mulch piles are possible only if the pile is constantly kept very moist. A more realistic termite risk is caused by piling mulch too high up against your siding so that it provides a bridge over the termiticide treated foundation and into the house.

Large pieces of wood, boards or pressure treated railroad ties are even more conducive to hosting a termite nest than mulch piles.

How to Treat Termites in Mulch

Do not spray insecticides into your mulch. Mulch and its decomposition process are very important to the health of the soil, trees and other plants. Insecticides kill all the beneficial organisms in your soil and mulch. That is not a good thing.

It is best to maintain a low mulch buffer area from 6”-12” wide around the perimeter of your house. This will stop termite bridges. Some experts recommend no mulch at all in this buffer area while others say a 2” max mulch layer around your house is fine.

Keep this area dry. Don’t water directly in the perimeter zone of your house. Remove large wood logs, boards and railroad ties that are stored against your house for future DIY projects. Keep an eye out for termites as a matter of course. If you start to see termites regularly, call in a pest control expert to inspect the situation.

Does landscape mulch lead to termites in your home?

The subterranean termites found in scattered, localized areas around Iowa are routinely found in wood chip mulch and other wood products on or in the soil (lumber scraps, boards, firewood, pallets, etc.). Does this mean, as some pest control advertisements claim, that mulch attracts termites to your home or that the mulch somehow causes termites? The answer to both questions is, “no.”

Landscape mulches contribute to a stable moist environment that is good for our trees and shrubs, and unfortunately, also good for termites and other insects. Termites in Iowa live underground in large, social colonies. Worker termites come to the soil surface (or higher) to feed on wood and other cellulose materials and carry it back to share with other colony members. Termites constantly explore for food by excavating a network of random, pencil-sized tunnels through the soil in the area surrounding their nest. Termites may tunnel for distances of up to 300 feet from their nest site. The presence of moisture favors termite exploration, tunneling and feeding. Therefore, any landscape mulch may improve conditions for termite colonies, whether the termites consume the mulch or not.

This does not mean you should avoid use of mulch, nor does it endorse one type of mulch as preferable over another. The same conclusion was recently reported from research at the Structural IPM Program at the University of Maryland. They studied the impact of landscape mulches on termite foraging activity in the laboratory and in the field. Termites that fed on a steady diet of either eucalyptus, hardwood or pine bark mulch suffered significantly lower survivorship than did termites fed the standard laboratory control diet of white birch. This result suggests that although we routinely discover termites in wood chip mulch, it is unlikely that they feed heavily on organic wood-based mulches.

In the field, termites were detected with equal frequency beneath mulches of eucalyptus, hardwood, pine bark and pea gravel and bare, uncovered soil. Sustained activity over time was significantly higher beneath gravel mulch. The hospitable conditions beneath mulch likely accounted for the termite foraging activity. However, there is no evidence that the moist conditions attract termite foragers from the surrounding landscape. Rather, when the termites wander into a suitable habitat they are more likely to remain and feed in that area.

Mulch recommendations

Keep mulch several inches away from the house foundation. Never allow mulch to cover windowsills or to contact house siding. Watch wood chip mulch for signs of activity if termites are present in your area. If you suspect termite activity contact several professional termite control services for inspections and estimates. Termite treatment is best left to professionals experienced in the various methods of termite control. Take your time. Do not be rushed or pressured into a hasty decision. Termites work slowly and your house will not be ruined overnight. Deal with reliable firms and get several inspections, opinions and estimates.

This article originally appeared in the May 4, 2001 issue, p. 48.

Acquiring a termite infestation is one of the worst things that can happen to your home. Therefore, it’s important to do everything in your power to prevent one from manifesting itself in or around your house. With that being said, let’s talk about mulch.

Yes, mulch does, in fact, attract termites. However, it’s not just wood mulch that attracts these destructive pests — it’s any type of mulch! Don’t be confused, here’s why: While termites do like wood, they are attracted to the moisture that thick mulch can provide as it lies on your property. Termites and other insects will house themselves underneath this thick layer of mulch, which can put your home at risk in the near future.

Mulch Tips You Should Know

To prevent termites from moving from your mulch to your home, utilize the following tips:

  • Leave Some Space – Since mulch creates the perfect living conditions for termites (and other insects), don’t let it touch your home. Make sure there’s a one-foot gap between the mulch and your foundation. Also, make sure there is a six-inch gap between the mulch on the ground and the siding (from a height perspective).
  • Keep Water Away – You don’t want termites to transfer from the mulch to your house, so keep your house dry. Don’t allow the side of your house and foundation to get wet from the hose or your sprinkler system. Doing this would be leading the termites right to the holy grail.
  • Rake Regularly – First things first, don’t lay out more than two-inches of mulch if your property is constantly wet. From here, you also want to keep up with your property maintenance. In this instance, this would involve raking your mulch around to allow it to air out and dry up any moisture.

Termites can cost you a fortune — make sure your mulch isn’t the cause of this ugly infestation. When you have a termite infestation and you need it removed, contact Knockout Pest Control. To learn more or to schedule an inspection, give us a call at (800) 244-7378.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *