How to Get Rid of Termites

By Amanda Lutz Updated February 1, 2024

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Any pest inside your home is a nuisance, but some do more than wear on your nerves. Termites, for example, can eat away at your home’s foundation, insulation, wood structures, and even pool liners. Even worse, most home insurance policies don’t cover structural damage caused by termites.

Quick and effective treatment is crucial when termites attack, and you’ll want to know the signs of a termite infestation to spot any issues before the damage begins. Our guide on how to get rid of termites outlines how to identify these pests and address an infestation, as well as the best do-it-yourself (DIY) methods and when it’s time to call in a top pest control company.

Addressing a Termite Infestation

Business owners and homeowners spend more than $2 billion every year treating damage from termites, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To avoid becoming part of this statistic, you’ll want to start treating your home right away.

Two primary types of termites infest homes in the United States: drywood termites and subterranean termites. Both termite species are dangerous to your home, but each nest in different areas around your property. Each type of termite requires specific treatment methods, so it’s important to know what type of termite colony you’re battling before addressing the problem. 

How to Get Rid of Drywood Termites

Drywood termites feed on and nest inside wooden structures. They may have wings and range in color from deep yellow to light brown. Larger than their subterranean cousins, these insects can grow up to a half-inch. Warmer, coastal areas like California, Florida, and Hawaii are the drywood termite’s natural habitat. Drywood termites live in small colonies of up to 2,500 members.

Common treatment methods for drywood termites include sprays, spot treatments, and essential oils:

If you need to eliminate a large infestation or aren’t interested in taking an at-home approach to pest control, consider professional extermination companies such as Terminix or Orkin.

How to Get Rid of Subterranean Termites

As their name suggests, subterranean termites nest underground, tunneling into your home through mud tubes. There are several options for subterranean termite treatments, such as termite insecticides, termite baits, termite barriers, and even parasites. Subterranean colonies are much larger than drywood termites, ranging from 100,000 to 1 million members.

These are the best DIY methods to get rid of subterranean termites:

How to Identify Termites

Termites can be mistaken for ants, but there are a few key differences between the two insects. 

Signs of Termites

If you can’t get a close enough look at the insects to tell whether or not they’re ants, you may be wondering: how do you know if you have termites? Here are the telltale signs of an infestation.

Preventing Future Termites

Once you’ve addressed your termite troubles, you’ll want to avoid future infestations. Here are some of the most common termite prevention measures.

DIY vs. Professional Termite Control 

If you’d like to save money and you’ve caught your problem quickly, at-home treatment is a viable option. However, remember that termite damage can quickly cause severe or irreversible damage to your home’s structure. While DIY methods can work well at the earliest stages of termites, large-scale infestations may require methods such as fumigation and professional bait systems

If you have a large colony in place or don’t feel confident that you can treat the bugs yourself, it may be worth calling a professional exterminator before your home is seriously harmed. You’ll save both time and money in the long run.

How to Choose a Pest Control Service

Before you choose a pest control service, consider the following factors:

The EPA recommends avoiding pest control companies that sell services door to door, try to pressure you into signing a contract on the spot, or claim that their products contain secret ingredients.

Our Recommendation

If your termite problem is small, you can turn to natural options like beneficial nematodes and essential oils. However, you may need serious termite killers like liquid, foam, or dust termiticides for a larger infestation.

If you’re concerned about the long-term effects of termites or want the convenience of professional help, we recommend calling a provider with decades of experience and an online chat feature, like Terminix. If you’re looking for a money-back guarantee, Orkin is another excellent choice, and Hawx offers solid customization options for homeowners seeking long-term pest control. All three providers have specialized termite treatment plans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get rid of termites by yourself?

In some cases of smaller infestations, it’s possible to get rid of termites yourself. You can try some of the below DIY methods:Applying liquid or foam termiticides to your home’s exteriorUsing essential oils or beneficial nematodes as an organic solutionSetting up termite baits to slowly kill the colonySpraying boric acid around affected areas inside the homeNote that not all of these methods are safe to use around animals or children, and larger infestations will likely require a professional company.

What kills termites naturally?

Natural ways to kill termites include borax powder or sodium borate, neem oil, orange essential oil, and beneficial nematodes for outdoor termites.

What attracts termites?

The main attraction for termites is wood and the cellulose it contains. Other items that attract termites include cracks in building exteriors, piles of firewood or tree stumps near your home, leaks in air conditioners or roofs, moisture and debris in gutters and pipes, and wood in close contact with your home’s foundation.

How We Chose the Top Pest Control Companies

Our pest control research process starts with analyzing customer reviews on third-party websites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Trustpilot, and Google Reviews. We then do a deep dive into each company’s website, service plans, and available cost information. We also secret shop the companies we review, reach out to representatives, and request quotes.

From there, we compile the information we’ve gathered and compare each company using our in-depth pest control methodology and review criteria. This process uses a series of factors that are important to our readers, and we score each company depending on how well they perform in each factor. For instance, companies that offer more guarantees for their service earned more points than others, and pest control plans with a larger range of covered pests earned more points than ones with fewer.

After analyzing dozens of residential and commercial pest control businesses through this process, we were able to determine the best pest control companies on the market.