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Termite infestation

February 02, 2010 — BarryK
This morning I was busy stripping off the inside lining of a wall of my house. Termites!

The little buggers have been there for quite a while. Would you believe it, they eat plasterboard! The wall looked ok, but my finger went straight through. I don't think they eat the plaster itself, rather the fibre in the plasterboard.

My house is wood frame, weatherboard outer cladding, plasterboard and wood panels on the inside. The wood is mostly Jarrah, but there is some pine. The pine is later renovations, not in the original house construction.

Termites (white ants) don't like Jarrah, but they do eat it, slowly. They will look around for something better, and in my case it is the pine and the plasterboard. Interesting, there are some MDF moldings that they ate all around but did not chew at all.

I have not called a pest exterminator, as I don't want to use chemicals. I don't like the whole philosophy of poisoning them. White ants perform an essential function in nature, especially where I live -- there are no worms in this arid soil, but a lot of white ants.

After stripping the wall, I found where they are coming up, and they sure are clever. My house is on stumps, with metal plates separating house and stump. They built an earth "bridge" right around the protruding metal plate. The stump is on the edge of the house, but they built their earth "bridge" on the inside, and I only saw it after getting right down and looking underneath.

Now, my understanding of white ants is that they need access to their nest in the ground. They also need access to underground water. So, if I replace the stump, that breaks their path to home, but my question is, what do those left behind in my house do?

In mean, will they survive? I have stripped the wall, but they have made it up to the roof (not too far fortunately) and there are going to be quite a few that I won't be able to physically remove.

I have remembered an old bush method, to paint the timber with sump oil, the older and dirtier the better. However this site says sump oil doesn't work, but sump oil mixed with creosote does:

...they mention "flying white ants" -- I've had those coming into the house, but no apparent infestation from them -- perhaps they are not the same thing as those in Queensland.

In a day or two I'll tackle rebuilding the stump. There are metal stumps available, that I have seen in Bunnings -- the base gets set in concrete I think.

This page is a good read:



Username: tronkel
"The Puppy Linux forum gets infested too occasionally (with spam). Pizzasgood and Flash might be able to give you some tips here! lol All creatures have to survive somehow - even the spammers! I can see that you have considerable experience with tracking bugs. Just make sure that they don't get into the computers. We want the next version of Quirky to just work!

Be carefull with creosote
Username: Uten
"If it's the same stuff that used to be used here Norway then I believe it is known to increase the risk of getting cancer? My old grandfather painted the entire house (outside around 1940) with it to get ride of Cerambycidae The Cerambycidae mostly died. But a nasty side effect was that every body would know if you had visited the house recently as the smell stuck to the cloths..:D. No one living in the house has got cancer thought, and my grandparents became of age. Hope you will find a good solution to the problem.

Carrot and stick
Username: lobster
"I would spray the infected area with bad tasting essential oil and provide a bridge of delicious wood to a new home base (perhaps a vegan ant eater) When I had wood worm two years ago. I sprayed and murdered. Then replaced the infected floor.

some hints about termites
Username: daftdog
"I have had a bit of experience getting rid of termites (also called 'white ants' but actually part of the cockroach family). Good to hear you don't want to poison them: not necessary as barriers are just as effective. Just finished getting rid of some in my little cottage in the bush; noticed a small hole in some interior pine and pocked with a finger only to have the whole thing crumble! Very clever the way they leave a very thin veneer of outside wood so the beam looks normal. Creosote is ok as its a natural product and therefore nature can deal with it. Good to soak wooden stumps in: mix with a bit of turps to thin it out so it goes into the wood easier. Old engine oil around the stumps does help keep them away as well. Just make a little reservoir around the stump and fill with oil. A couple of days later do it again. Do a few times until you feel the area is 'saturated' with oil down around each stump. Stopping the ones inside being able to return to the ground will kill them as they need to return to the nest for water etc. Make sure there are no leaking taps/pipes around your house. They will travel up to 200m underground to get to water but if you have no supplies of water around your house it can discourage them. Make sure there are no loose piles or pieces of wood under or around the house. Anything of this nature lying around will encourage them to nest and seek further in the area. There used to be a guy work for the CSIRO who was known as Dr Termite but I cant find anything about him anymore. Have a look here: I think most of what he used to say is covered here. (I think I have some of his stuff on an old CD so if you want to read it let me know and I'll send it to you.) The flying ones are looking for new places to nest (they lose their wings very quickly). Even if they do try and nest in the house they wont last if they cant get back down past the stump caps.

Username: x
"my limited knowledge of the subject. if you break the clay tube the ordinary ants will feast on the white ants. they also wont survive with out their water source. how do you see sump oil and creosote as less toxic than chemical sprays. i would avoid both. ask or search at [url=] often amazing thing are revealed there from the collective knowledge of its vast user base..

boric acid powder
Username: x
""Boric acid powder, its cheap, effective, safe for humans and pets and it kills a wide range of insects, including roaches, silverfish, waterbugs, fleas, termites, wood beetles and ants. Just sprinkle some on a sheet of paper and set it out where you have seen the pests. You can get it at almost any drug store or supermarket." "When I was looking into using this for ants I did see that it should work for termites too. Here is an article that talks about making bait traps for termites: I read another article that suggested a mixture of Boric acid & propylene glycol. The probylene glycol should help the boric acid penetrate the wood and will also provide some protection from future termites invading. Good Luck Creativeman."

natural products
Username: daftdog
"Both creosote and oil occur in a natural state and have been around for millennia. I dont see creosote as less toxic than chemicals. I see it as a better alternative to all the herbicides, pesticides, etc, that people spray around their houses. Used carefully creosote soaked stumps keep out termites and last longer. (I don't see oil as toxic at all.) Nature is perfectly able to deal with them as opposed to chemical products produced unnaturally in a laboratory. If you break the clay tube of termites then, if there are any ants nearby and, if they find the break, the ants may go in and take the termites out. This will only last for a short time as the protector termites in the nest quickly fill in the gaps and close up the hole. Even large holes don't last very long. I have seen chunks knocked out of large above ground nests filled back in again in only a few hours. As to boric acid, it is also toxic, can accumulate in the body with serious side affects and is only effective where it is spread. Insects such as termites and cockroaches will find a way around the area it is put on. I use a lot more sources than the 'amazing' I would never rely on one source for info. Just because something has a vast user base or something is believed by the majority doesn't mean it is true.

Username: ttuuxxx
"HI Barry what about a couple of roach-bombs??? cheap enough, just block off the other rooms with a plastic drop-sheet. open 2-3 cans in a average room where they are and then take off to beach for the day and keep any animals you have outside :) you have to be sure yo get them all, or you'll be in the same spot 6 months down the road. I'm glad my house is a steel frame with brick outside, lets see them chew that, lol ttuuxxx

Vacuum cleaner
Username: Tony
"I had flying ants in my house. I stopped them coming in with vinegar soaked rag (they don't like the smell) but still had several hundred to evict. Being vegan I did not want to harm them so I rigged a vacuum cleaner to a big container (with a filter cloth over it. Then another tube led from that to use as a suction end. With brush and vacuum I sucked them all into the big container and then took them outside. Didn't take long and no nasty chemicals. Not sure of best way to stop them coming back in but great to see some compassionate suggestions.

More Eco
Username: cthisbear
" gitterdun = diatomaceous earth? Use it myself. Good for cockroaches. You can buy it from Queensland. They also have other TERMITE PRODUCTS >>NO ROT GEL ///////// Neem oil is good for some pests. just for the interests of others. Supposed to be good 4 Nits too....lice. //////////// Still have no scruples with these pests. Ming the Merciless>>>AKA >> Lobsters answer was good. Regards..........Chris.

Ultrasound or smoke.
Username: capoverde
"How about ultrasonic pest repellers? They're said to work with a wide range of pests, from rats to roaches; they don't actually harm the critters, they just make their living uncomfortable; and they're not poisonous to anyone. One such item worked perfectly here to oust a small rat from a house. Insects also dislike plain smoke: a tool widely used by beekeepers is the "bee smoker" (see Google), a kind of tin can in which some old rag is kept burning with a bellows blower, with which the smoke is blown over the insects. Here too, no killing nor poisoning; sure, no good smell, but gets back to normal much faster than creosote.

use earth
Username: teddog
" ditch wood, go uber-green, I'm having an issue getting these guys to ship, should be easier for you. You speaka their language.

earth and wood
Username: daftdog
"Barry: you can use some of the melaleucas for stumps as they are so hard the termites leave them alone completely. I've seen ruins in the outback where the only thing left was the melaleuca stumps, all other wood returned to the earth by the termites. teddog: why buy these from Oz? It's only formwork you could easily make yourself. Looks to me like a bastardized form of rammed earth. Why not go uber-uber green and cut out the cement and just used rammed earth. (some plywood formwork, some long bolts and fill with desired wall material).

Username: Dougal
"What about nicotine? When plants suffer from aphids etc., you can take cigarette butts, soak them in water and try and get the nicotine out, then spray with that water...

Username: PaulBx1
"Termites might be natural, but you sure don't want them in your house. A friend of mine owns this site and markets this stuff: The fresh water diatomaceous earth is so safe that people eat it to get rid of any parasites in their system. I've done that, just in case I had them. Feed it to pets too. The salt water DE, the usual stuff you see everywhere, also would work but you have to be careful with it as it is bad if inhaled or ingested. I'd make a cap of sheet metal for your posts, with the outside edge of the cap pointing down. I think that would confuse any tunnel making. Then pour the fresh water DE around each post, making a barrier they have to walk or dig through that will kill them. This freshwater DE is good for ants in the kitchen too. People in Hawaii get a tent put over their house and gas it. I think the gas is just plain old carbon dioxide so non-toxic. But probably the ones in your house will die as long as they have absolutely no water source. Hope you have no leaking pipes...

Organic pest repellant
Username: Puppyluvr
"I would recommend Capsicum... I grow habanero peppers, but you can buy the extract..If you boil down the peppers yourself, do it outdoors..And wear plastic gloves whenever working with capsicum...Think "Pepper Spray".. Insects Will Not touch it...Wood saturated in it is termite resistant..Tubes saturated in it will be abandoned..Also, powdered red pepper straight from the grocer sprinkled in areas where they nest.. And straight vinegar (malic acid) in a spray bottle kills them while being basically non toxic. (Although a bit unpleasant)...

diatomacious earth or borax
Username: technosaurus
"diatomacious earth - best environmentally, but sometimes hard to find borax - cheap & fairly environmentally friendly (usually available in the laundry detergent aisle at 1/10th the cost as the same stuff with a pest lable)

Username: Dr K Rude
"I am a bit late I suppose. So what happened if I may ask, with the termite issue? - metal caps don't keep out termites, they are there to force them to build out on the cap - where they may be seen -sump oil....heavy metals, bad idea -probably have a termite guy use a heat scanning device to see if they are are still there -read "Building Out Termites" I think it was, granite is good at keeping out termites, used in Hawaii over 50 years never a problem -possibly a trench around the house filled with a barrier like maybe granite (right size that is) or stainless steel might be interesting....of course, buried pipes and electrical are to be considered here -I imagine one could use a new termaticide, harmless to humans, mammals, There are so many termites, knocking over 1 nest is not going to change the environment, but could save your house and/or maybe the inhabitants from injury resulting from structural damage

Tags: general