How to Kill Underground Termites

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Underground or subterranean termites are the most common type of termites in the United States. They are notorious for invading homes and for being hard to kill. In fact, going on the offensive against underground termites is not considered the best course of action. The large size of a termite colony and termites' extensive network of tunnels make them a formidable opponent. Thus, the best option in killing termites is to take a defensive stance.

Things You'll Need

  • Insecticide
  • Exterminator
  • Protective clothing

Killing Underground Termites

  • Detect where the termites are coming from. Start by looking in areas with damp soil since termites use water stored in soil to survive.

  • Look for small holes in the ground called mud tubes. Mud tubes are usually the width of a standard pencil or pen. Verify that a mud tube is part of an active termite tunnel network by digging a couple inches into the tube. If an active colony is using that mud tube, it should be rebuilt between 24 and 48 hours and possibly much sooner.

  • Create an insecticide barrier in the soil to cut off the termites if the nest is not under your home. This is done by injecting insecticide directly into the soil.

  • Do not apply insecticide directly on the the termite nest. The termites will likely expand their tunnel network and the colony will survive. Creating a barrier will isolate the termites by shutting down the tunnel network.

  • If the nest is under your home, call an exterminator. Improperly using insecticides in your home can cause the insecticide to leak into water pipes.

Killing Underground Termites with Winged Offspring

  • Call an exterminator if you see large swarms of insects during the summer months. Some varieties of termites produce of a winged-offspring between spring and summer.

  • Have the exterminator make an identification of the insect. This step can also be accomplished by conducting research on identifying termites or by showing a specimen to a trained professional.

  • If the insects are positively identified as termites, hire an exterminator. Underground termites with winged offspring are more difficult to kill. Hiring an exterminator in this situation will be the most effective way to kill the termites.

Tips & Warnings

  • There are several different insecticides available to kill termites. The most common are liquid insecticides. These are injected directly into the ground but can be dangerous due to the possibility of leakage into water pipes if the liquid is injected near a home. Bait systems also exist, but they are not as effective as liquid treatments. Finally, borate treatments are highly effective but are only useful if a house or other wood structure is being built. Borate is a chemical that is applied to the outer layer of wood and protects against the infestation of termites.
  • The handling of any chemicals is dangerous. If you are not a trained professional, it is highly recommended that you hire an exterminator or other professional to handle a termite infestation. If you decide to use insecticide on your own, read the directions on the container and wear protective clothing to protect against any contact with your body.

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