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Natural Treatments for Pacific Dampwood Termites

April 30, 2022
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Dampwood termites can be a silent problem in your home until you notice significant property damage. These termites only feed on wet or decaying wood, so on top of dealing with water damage, wet rot, and decay, you also have to deal with the termite infestation that’s damaging the structural wood inside your property’s walls even further. In New York, you can find types of termites like the pacific dampwood termites, one of the largest types of termites in the United States, causing extensive damage to buildings. 

So what are some natural treatments to prevent or ward off pacific dampwood termites? If you’re worried about the chemical residue that pesticides leave, you may consider using some natural home remedies and common household products to eliminate termites from your property. But in case you spot termite activity and signs of an infestation, it’s best to leave it to professionals that can provide safe and controlled pest management solutions. 

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Natural Ways to Treat Pacific Dampwood Termites

Here are some of the ways you can treat your property’s pacific dampwood termite problem without having to resort to chemical pesticides:

Sodium Borate

More commonly known as borax, sodium borate is a natural mineral with plenty of home uses. While safe for some home uses, it can be used to kill ants and termites as it affects their ability to digest food, which can cause its death. Many treated wood items are often coated with a borate solution to prevent termite infestations. To protect untreated or unfinished wood, you can have a coat of borate solution applied to protect your wooden items. 

There are, however, some limitations to using borax on its own. Borax powder is more effective for drywood termites than dampwood termites, and even then the powder has very limited reach. You can spread borax powder around your property – particularly near areas where pacific dampwood termites may infest – but keep in mind that Borax only kills the termites that come into contact with borax, and not the entire colony. 

If your wooden object isn’t already treated, you’ll need a professional to apply a borax solution to keep it uniform outside and when it seeps into your wood. If it’s not done properly, your wood won’t be fully protected.

Vinegar and Lemons

Termites can be killed by the acidic combination of vinegar and lemons. Mix half a cup of vinegar with the juice of two lemons and pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Spray this mixture around the area where you suspect termites. Spray the area regularly. 

While this can work effectively on drywood termites, it might not be as effective depending on the severity of your wood’s water damage. The moisture content on damp wood can dilute the acidic concentration. 

Orange Oil

Orange oil contains D-limonene, a colorless liquid found in the oils of citrus trees and citrus fruit peels. When termites come into contact with orange oil, their exoskeletons dissolve along with their moisture and proteins. 

However, just like vinegar and lemon juice, this can be diluted with additional moisture from wood. You can find orange oil online or in stores that sell essential oils. This also may not kill the entire colony since the wood in contact may not necessarily spread the orange oil throughout the wood.

Get Rid of Decaying Wood

Rather than relying on any natural substance, there are some practices you can do to prevent an infestation from occurring on your property without relying on chemical pesticides. One way to do this is to get rid of any decaying wood that can attract pacific dampwood termites onto your property. You can tell wood is decayed by the following features:

  • If it sports a dark brown color compared to its original state
  • Signs of fungal growth like spores and mold
  • Musty or unpleasant odor on the wood
  • If you stab the wood with an awl or a sharp blade, more than an eighth of the blade can slide easily into the wood. 

Outdoors, this can include tree stumps, fallen tree branches, dead trees, stockpiled firewood, any type of rotten wood, and fixtures like wooden fences, gates, and wooden sheds. Ideally, your fixtures should be treated with wood that can withstand water exposure from rain, damp ground, and other elements. 

This can prevent it from absorbing excessive moisture and decaying from the inside out. Indoors, check for any wooden furniture or wooden items especially in rooms with access to water like your kitchen or bathroom. 

Check Your Property for Leaks and Ventilation Issues

If your home’s natural condition is prone to plumbing leaks, has roofing damage, or has recently experienced flooding or heavy rain, there’s a risk of water damage within the structural wood. Hire a plumber or contractor to assess your home and see if there’s any damage that can cause excess moisture within the structural wood. If left unchecked, this can be prone to pacific dampwood termites. 

Make sure that your home has proper ventilation. For your kitchen or bathroom, open a window or install a ventilator. Wipe away any puddles, standing water, or any type of moisture that have contact with water immediately to prevent it from seeping in. Ensure that areas like your basement, attic, or crawlspace are well-ventilated and not prone to moisture. 

Understanding a Dampwood Termite Infestation

Dampwood termites – and similar termite species like the pacific dampwood termite – are one of the largest types of termites found in the United States. However, their habitat and nature differ from most subterranean termites. During the summer, dampwood termites in the reproductive caste fly to other locations to start new colonies, which means finding other areas within your property to infest. 

Unlike subterranean termites that burrow underground, dampwood termites create their colonies inside wood. And unlike most species of termite that feed on any type of wood, dampwood termites will only feed on wood with high moisture content. This includes wood that’s been affected by water damage, wet rot, or any type of decay. 

Because of their nature, they don’t attack your property unless there’s wet and moist wood for them to feed on. Which is why if there’s water damage to your home, there’s a risk that dampwood termites are nearby to worsen the condition of your wood. 

How to Prevent Dampwood Termite Infestations

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Since dampwood termites only attack homes with highly-moist wood, maintaining dry conditions and preventing excess moisture is a good way to prevent termite infestations. Dampwood termites don’t attack dry wood, so minimizing moisture can prevent them from settling and building colonies within your property. Some of the ways to spot dampwood termites on your property are:

  • Wood damage. Unlike other termite species that burrow underground, dampwood termites tend to colonize in large pieces of decayed wood. You should see damage that goes across the grain caused by the worker caste.  
  • Dampwood termite fecal matter. Dampwood termites use their fecal matter to seal their entry points and protect their colony. Moist wood can result in the feces sticking to the wood. But if it’s dry on the outside, you can find the pellets on the ground close to the decayed wood. 

Some of the steps you can take to do this include: 

Plumbing, Roofing, and HVAC Maintenance 

Have a professional plumber, roofing contractor, and HVAC technician conduct general maintenance on your property at least once a year. Since water damage is a common cause for attracting dampwood termites, you’ll want to keep your home free from any damage or regular wear and tear that can cause water damage around your property. 

Plumbers can check for leaks in your fixtures and assess if your pipes are due for replacement. They can also check areas in your kitchen and bathrooms for any leaks that can spread to the structure of your home. Roofing contractors can check your roof for holes and cracks that are causing leaks that spread to your attic or within your walls. Repairs or complete roofing replacement may be necessary, depending on the state of your property. 

Lastly, HVAC technicians can check your ventilation and air circulation around your home to ensure that your home has the right humidity levels and there isn’t too much moisture in the air that wood in your property can’t absorb. 

Check Indoors and Outdoors for Potential Vulnerable Areas

Since dampwood termites only attack wood with high moisture content, you can limit your focus to areas that may be prone to water damage or wet rot. Check outdoors and indoors for ways to prevent wood from decaying by maintaining dry conditions. 

Outdoors, you can practice the following:

  • Invest in pressure-treated wood or decay-resistant lumber for outdoor areas like decks, wood siding, wooden sheds, gazebos, or any outdoor feature made of wood. Every piece of wood in exterior projects should either be painted on all sides or stained to protect wood against water damage. 
  • Prior to the rainy season, ensure that your roof and gutters are free of debris like leaves, branches, nests, etc. These can cause roof sagging and gutter clogging, which can cause these fixtures to direct water towards your property and cause damage. 
  • Avoid placing untreated plywood, ladders, or any untreated wooden items in contact with your home’s walls. It only takes one piece of wood to decay and spread rot onto the walls of your home, especially during the summer when winged reproductives leave the colony to find a new location to start another colony. Also, prevent wooden pieces from getting in contact with soil, as it can absorb moist soil and begin decaying. 

Indoors, you can prevent water damage by:

  • If your home has a moisture issue and its natural conditions lean towards the moist side, install devices like dehumidifiers or air conditioners that can reduce the moisture content in the air. 
  • Using your home appliances properly. Appliances like your washing machine or dishwasher can potentially cause flooding in your kitchen if misused. Don’t overload them and use them according to their manufacturer’s instructions. 
  • Clear your kitchen and bathroom drains. Aside from opening a window, you can prevent puddles and standing water by having your drains cleaned regularly. 

Hire a Professional Pest Control Company

In case you’ve seen evidence of termite activity on top of the water damage in your home, it’s best to hire a professional termite exterminator to handle your termite swarm. While some natural home remedies may kill a handful of termites, having limited knowledge of how termites function can make it difficult to exterminate one or more termite colonies within your property. 

Rest assured, pest control companies like Positive Pest Management use safe and effective methods to remove termites from your property. We cater to both residential and commercial properties and have experience with pest control in areas like healthcare facilities and food service businesses and can conduct safe pest control that won’t harm people within the property. 

Contact Positive Pest Management for Reliable Termite Control

professional pest control worker doing termite extermination

Pacific dampwood termites can worsen the property damage caused by wet wood or rotten wood. The most effective natural method of preventing dampwood termites is by preventing water damage to your property. But if that fails and you notice the presence of termites, leave it to the professionals to safely and effectively remove every single colony from your residential or commercial properties. 

We can protect your property from termites and other wood-destroying insects that can compromise your property’s safety. Get back your peace of mind and contact Positive Pest Management today for a free estimate on our pest control services.

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