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How To Get Rid of Termites

Updated Nov 1, 2022

Updated Nov 1, 2022

Home > Pest > How To Get Rid of Termites

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Termites cause billions of dollars in damage each year in the U.S to homes and businesses. They feast on the cellulose material in wooden structures, paper products, and dead trees, causing homeowners headaches across the nation. The moment you suspect an infestation, it is time to call one of the best pest control companies like Orkin or Terminix. They can spot the telltale signs by thoroughly inspecting your property. The good news is that these pest management providers typically offer this service for free.

Eliminating termites from a property is typically not for DIY homeowners. However, it is good to know what you’re up against when confronting this challenge head-on. In this informative guide to effective termite control, you’ll learn:

  • The difference between the termite species
  • How to perform barrier treatments
  • Keys to effective baiting
  • How to identify and prevent termite infestations
  • What to look for in a reputable termite exterminator

House Method’s pick for best same-day service: Orkin pest control

Getting Rid of Termites: A How-to Guide

Subterranean Termites Extermination

Termiticide Barriers

Subterranean termites live underground and require constant contact with the soil. Therefore, the first line of defense against these menacing pests is a chemical barrier.

This method involves digging a four-inch-wide trench around the home’s foundation and filling it with a diluted mixture of termiticide, such as Termidor SC with fipronil. Other suitable active ingredients include:

  • Imidacloprid
  • Chlorantraniliprole
  • Permethrin
  • Cypermethrin
  • Bifenthrin

Products containing these substances labeled for termites will work on most species. However, it is vital to read all label directions before applying them.

Foam Treatments

It is often hard to reach into wall voids, cracks, and crevices with liquid termiticide. Products containing a foaming agent solve this problem. They can reach these tight areas where termites live and eradicate colonies at their source.

Termite Baits

Termite bait stations containing a low dose of slow-acting, non-repellent insecticides are effective when installed around the perimeter of your home. They include a cellulose attractant that will infect the rest of the colony and eventually cause it to die off when eaten by worker termites.

Utilizing termite bait stations is an effective method for long-term control and prevention. However, they should never be used as a stand-alone treatment for active infestations.

Beneficial Nematodes

Beneficial nematodes are microscopic parasites that burrow into the host insect to deposit lethal bacteria. Although gardeners often swear by their efficacy to kill grub worms and other pests, they should never be used to treat termite infestations.

Drywood Termites Extermination


Unlike their subterranean cousins, drywood termites do not require contact with moist soil to survive. For that reason, they can reach much higher into a structure, infesting as far up as the roofline.

Fumigation, in severe cases, is often the only way to eradicate a drywood termite colony from a home. This process requires draping the entire house with a tent-like structure. Then, the termite specialist releases a fumigant, such as sulfuryl fluoride, for up to several hours, eventually killing the colony.

Heat Treatments

The latest advances in thermal technology allow technicians to by-pass the dangerous process of fumigation and utilize a more environmentally sound approach. This method involves raising the temperature of selected sections of the structure over 120 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 33 minutes.

Spot Treatments

Drywood termites build longitudinal galleries and should not be confused with dampwood termites, which build circular galleries. In either case, you can spot-treat these areas using a wettable powder insecticide spray containing cyfluthrin.

Inject pyrethrin dust directly into the openings using a bulb duster for longer-lasting residual control. However, it will be necessary to eventually replace the damaged wood areas since using putty to fill the holes is not a viable solution.

Essential Oils

Standard DIY solutions, such as orange oil and neem, smell nice and can be effective against some species of garden insects. However, they should never be used as a stand-alone treatment option for termites.

Exterminating Both Drywood and Subterranean Termites

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a natural insecticide produced from crushed diatoms mined from dry lake beds. It has the consistency of baby powder, and you apply it with a special bellows duster.

For long-term residual control of termites, you first have to drill 1/8-inch holes in the drywall every six feet. Next, slowly release the DE into the wall void. Last, be sure to patch all the holes when finished.

Boric Acid

Use boric acid in the same way as diatomaceous earth. It is also effective when injected directly into termite galleries or as a crack and crevice treatment application.

Cardboard Trap

DIY pest control enthusiasts often point to cardboard traps as effective against termites. The idea is to sandwich several pieces of cardboard together, creating a cellulose trap where worker termites cannot escape.

While this can be a fun science experiment for children, homemade cardboard traps should never be used to control termite infestations.

Different Types of Termites

Scientists have already discovered 3,000 species of termites worldwide, and they are finding new ones every day. The ones you will run into in the U.S. are listed below.

Eastern subterranean termite

You can find the eastern subterranean termite from Northern Maine to the Florida Keys along the eastern seaboard. It extends westward to the Ohio Valley and south to the Mississippi Delta.

This species relies heavily on moisture. It also requires its workers to build mud tubes used for traveling for colonies underground to find suitable food sources.

The primary diet of the eastern subterranean termite is wood from any structure. However, they will also devour cardboard, wallpaper, and dead tree stumps.

Western subterranean termite

The western subterranean termite lives in areas along the Pacific Coast and can extend as far east as the Permian Basin in Texas. Although it is slightly smaller than its eastern cousin, it can do nearly as much damage to a home. Also, since it is adapted to live in drier regions, it requires less water than most subterranean species.

Formosan termite

The Formosan termite is a subterranean, invasive species that scientists believe originated in the Burmese region near Southern China. It migrated to the Polynesian Islands via passenger boats and was introduced into the U.S., probably around the early 1900s.

Formosan termites are larger and more aggressive than their native counterparts. Colonies can number in the millions and can sometimes be impossible to eradicate once established.

Dampwood termite

The dampwood termite thrives along the pacific coast, from British Columbia, Canada, to Baja, California, to Mexico. You can also find them along the Gulf Coast Region, from Galveston, Texas, and into the tropical areas of Florida.

Dampwood termites infest moist, rotting wood above ground. In addition, it creates circular galleries used for laying eggs, feeding, and storing waste products.

Since this species lives in small, localized colonies, scientists caution against treating it with termiticides. Instead, it is best to replace damaged wood as needed.

Drywood termite

You can find the drywood termite living in the southwestern regions of the U.S. and Mexico. It does not require constant contact with moist soil like its subterranean cousin. For that reason, it can infest all parts of a structure in a shorter period.

A licensed professional should determine the species of termite you have on your property. Only then can you determine the proper course of action to eliminate infestations.

How to Identify a Termite Infestation

To determine if you have a termite problem, you first need to complete a thorough inspection of the entire home. Start at the ground level in the basement or crawlspace. Next, check the outside area around the foundation and work your way up to the attic, eaves, and roof.

Along the way, look for signs of infestation. Here are some examples of the techniques used by professional termite inspectors:

  • Hollow wood: A hollow sound when you knock on a piece of wood means that you have found a gallery or nesting site. Also, try pressing down on the wood with a screwdriver. It may reveal live termites burrowing through the area if it caves in.
  • Mud tubes: Since subterranean termites require constant contact with the soil, they will create mud tubes for traveling back and forth from the ground to your home. Look for them near plumbing lines.
  • Frass (termite droppings): Typically, you will have already discovered termite locations if you spot frass, an accumulation of barrel-shaped droppings. However, dried-up termite waste without live activity can signal a dormant gallery.
  • Swarm evidence: The presence of winged reproductive swarmers during the spring or summer can indicate an infestation. During mating season, they drop their wings, providing further evidence of a problem.
  • Peeling paint: Once you detect peeling paint on a surface, run your finger over the area. If it caves in at any part, and you notice dirt or mud, you’ve found a termite travel tube.
  • Headbanging: Soldier termites bang their heads together to warn the colony of danger. However, the noise created by this behavior is too faint to hear, so you will need a stethoscope or other specialty device to detect it.
  • Seeing live termites: You can distinguish between ants and termites by their general appearance. Termites have thick bodies, while ants have thin, segmented bodies. Both possess two sets of wings, but the termites are equal in length, and the ant’s wings are unequal in length.

6 Steps to Prevent Termites

It’s always more cost-effective to keep termites away than to treat them once an infestation is present in your home. For that reason, we list the six most effective prevention measures here.

  1. Check for leaks: Termites can immediately sense a water source for up to 100 feet away.
  2. Clean pipes and gutters: Moist soil can accumulate in these areas where termites like to hide
  3. Fill in foundation cracks: Caulk and seal any cracks in the foundation where pests can hide.
  4. Limit termite food sources: Keep firewood at least 50 feet from your home, if possible. Also, get rid of old tree stumps and downed logs in the yard.
  5. Consider alternative mulch types: Natural yard mulch can attract termites, so it is best to use an alternative such as gravel or rubber instead.
  6. Schedule regular termite inspections: Set up periodic inspections of your home with a licensed termite inspector. This one act of prevention can save you thousands of dollars.

Professional Pest Control Companies

The first step in hiring a licensed professional to treat your termite problem is to schedule an inspection. Like Terminix, most of the top exterminators in the country will do it for free if it is not tied to a real estate transaction.

It will probably surprise you to see how long it takes to complete a termite inspection. This is because most states put a fair amount of liability on the company performing it. If the inspector misses anything and your house gets damaged due to an infestation, the business could be found guilty in court.

With so much at stake, a reputable termite control provider will seriously take every aspect of the process. From the inspection to the treatment, your termite specialist will calculate every step carefully to ensure nothing is left to chance.


Nearly 90 years ago, Terminix revolutionized the pest control industry by securing the first patent for a termiticide. Since then, it has become the world’s largest provider of termite treatments, protecting thousands of homes each year from wood-destroying pests.

Best Overall
  • Offers a Terminix Promise™ (visit site for additional details) and an extended work guarantee for those experiencing a commercial pest problem
  • Provides online chat services
  • Available in 47 states

Technicians receive over 160 hours of initial training. But it doesn’t stop there. Terminix managers ensure that all staff members receive the continuing education necessary to keep up with changing technologies.

Some of the newest termite treatment methods the company uses are infrared heat and microwaves to lessen the impact of chemical pesticides on the environment. It also employs bait stations for added protection to deter colonies from returning.

To receive a free quote, fill out this form or call (866) 981-1210.

Read our Terminix Review to learn more.


You can argue that Orkin is the first pest control company in the U.S. Started by a rat poison salesman over 100 years ago, it has become one of the most recognizable names in the pest control industry.>

Best Emergency Service
Orkin Pest Control
  • Several decades of pest control experience
  • Specializes in residential extermination
  • Top tier termite exterminator services

Orkin didn’t start out performing termite removal services right away. But with some reluctance, it served its first barrier treatment in 1981. After that, the company became a legend in the termite control space and has been thrilling homeowners ever since.

Orkin was also the first full-service pest control provider to implement an integrated pest management approach (IPM). This strategy employs several non-chemical and chemical methods combined to reduce the need for pesticide spraying.

Get your free quote by filling out this form, or call 877-752-6079

Learn more by reading our Orkin Review.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are signs I have termites?

The first telltale sign is structural damage. Termites burrow through sound wood to create vast galleries that appear as hollowed-out tunnels.

Another way to quickly tell if you have termites is by the presence of mud tubes. Look for them near plumbing areas and near foundation walls in crawlspaces.

What chemicals kill termites?

Non-repellent active ingredients such as fipronil provide the best residual control of termites. In addition, insect growth regulators containing imidacloprid work well long-term.

Conversely, it is best to avoid products containing bifenthrin or permethrin. These chemicals are mostly repellent and may break down quickly under certain conditions.

What is the fastest way to get rid of termites?

The fastest way to eliminate termites is to follow these six steps :

  1. Perform a thorough inspection of the home or structure
  2. Correctly identify the pest as being termites
  3. Identify the species
  4. Write a detailed action plan with all the steps included
  5. Gather all the equipment you’ll need to perform the job, such as a pickaxe, shovel, termiticide, bait stations, etc.
  6. Prepare to perform follow-up treatments as necessary

Even if you follow all these steps, your DIY methods might not be enough. For that reason, it is always preferable to consult an experienced professional at the first sign of termites.

How much does it cost to get rid of termites?

Here are some ball-park national averages to consider. However, keep in mind that prices vary greatly based on various factors, including the size of your home and the species.

Spot treatments: $300 – $500

Bait stations only: $500 – $1,000

Standard barrier treatments: $1,500 and up

Barrier treatment and bait stations: $2,000 and up

Tent fumifgation: $5,000 and up

House Method Rating & Methodology

Our research process involves a multi-step process to get real insights into the customer experience for each company. We contacted each pest control company directly and spoke to representatives via phone and online chat (if available). This allowed us better understand the company’s treatment offerings and customer service. We also consider BBB accreditation and what customer reviews say about each company. Additionally, we fact-check and update company data regularly to ensure accurate and up-to-date information. 

We developed a 100-point rating system to compare the companies numerically. 

  • Plan options (35 points): Companies with more plans and flexibility on services to address specific issues were given a higher score. 
  • State Availability (5 points): Those that offer coverage in fewer than 45 states were deducted points for availability. 
  • Trustworthiness (10 points): This is based on whether companies have money-back guarantees, service guarantees, and additional satisfaction assurance measures.
  • Customer Service (30 points): We considered accessibility (including on weekends and holidays) of technicians and customer support. 
  • Additional Benefits (20 points): Companies that offer further conveniences such as an app, comprehensive resources, and other benefits were rated higher. 

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