Most homeowners shudder at the thought of termites near their homes. It’s true—termites can do a tremendous amount of damage if they invade your property. These small, winged insects are beneficial for the soil and help break down decaying plant matter, especially dead trees. However, homeowners are rarely happy to have a nest of termites on their property.
Controlling termites can be challenging in an organic garden. Using chemicals, pesticides, and insecticides are usually only used as a last resort. So, what can you do to make sure and control termites in your garden naturally?
In this article, you will learn how to control termites in an organic garden.
How to Identify Termites
Termites—their botanical name is Isoptera—are small insects in the same order as cockroaches Blattodea. Termites measure between 4 and 15 millimeters (0.16” – 0.59”) long. The worker termites have a pale white body and brown head. Worker termites make up the most significant number of insects in the colony.
Because of their resemblance to ants, they are sometimes called the “white ant.” You can tell the difference between termites and ants—termites have a thick body without a thin “waist.”
Subterranean termites and dry wood termites are the species that do the most damage to wooden structures. Subterranean termites are the species of termites that likely live in your garden. However, these are the ones that will do the most damage if they get into your home.
Benefits of Termites
Termites that live in your garden forage for food—looking for dead plant matter to feed on. They eat dead grass, leaves, twigs, decomposing trees, and roots.
According to a report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the main benefit of termites is their contribution to the ecosystem. They create fertile soil and help to aerate it. However, the same report also highlighted the damage that termites can do to properties.
What to Avoid When Controlling Termites
If you want to use organic termite control methods in your garden, there are a few things you should avoid. Here are some common termite prevention and control mistakes:
- Mulching—Mulch is an excellent way of controlling weeds organically. However, dead bark can be food for termites. While it’s fine to place mulch around plants, flowers, and trees, you should avoid piling up mulch near your house. The moist ground and dead wood will attract these house-destroying insects.
- Leaving tree stumps—To avoid attracting a large colony of termites, completely remove any old tree stumps.
- Storing firewood—A pile of firewood next to your home is another thing to avoid when controlling termites.
8 Organic Ways to Control Termites in Your Garden
It makes sense to explore alternative ways to using pesticides in your garden for termite control. Artificial pesticides can get into the food chain and kill off beneficial insects. Also, bugs and insects can build up resistance to chemicals.
What are the best ways to control or eradicate termites in your garden without the use of chemicals? Let’s look at some environmental-friendly ways to control termites in your garden.
1. Add Organic Material to the Soil
Adding plenty of compost or well-rotted manure can help increase organic matter. Soil with a high organic matter content can provide plenty of food for termites. The rich organic content prevents termites from feeding on living plant matter and help prevent a termite attack.
2. Attract Natural Termite Predators
Natural termite predators can be extremely useful in controlling populations of these wood-hungry insects. Nematodes are parasitic worms that view termites as a tasty treat. Buy nematodes online and release them in areas of your garden where you suspect nests of termites are located.
3. Practice Crop Rotation
Crop rotation is an essential tool for any organic gardener. Apart from improving the health of organic soil, it can help to reduce the number of termites in your garden significantly. One study found that crop rotation and fertile organic soil can help to lower the risk of termite infestations.
4. Use Diatomaceous Earth (DE) for Organic Termite Control
Diatomaceous earth is a natural, organic substance that kills bugs—including termites—without hurting plants, animals, or humans. This silica powder destroys the exoskeletons of termites. You can safely sprinkle food grade DE around the foundations of your home to help kill off termites. Remember, that DE loses its effectiveness when wet. So, only apply to dry soil or interior areas of your home. This organic method of termite control is also backed up by a scientific study.
5. Orange Oil to Control Termites in Organic Gardens
D-limonene is an oil found in orange rind that is deadly on termites. One lab study found that spraying orange oil extract can help to control subterranean termites. Spray liberally in areas where you suspect termites are lurking to help get rid of them for good.
6. Use Borates (borax powder)
Another organic way to control termites in your garden is to sprinkle borax powder. For this termite control method to be effective, you should apply it regularly. Mix 130 g (1.5 cups) in 3.5 l (1 gallon) of hot water. Stir until it dissolves and use a pump sprayer to apply to areas of your garden.
7. Vinegar for Organic Termite Control
Vinegar is another natural method of getting rid of termites from your garden. The acidic qualities of vinegar is lethal on termites. Remember that vinegar can also damage plants and grass, so only use in areas where you know termites are active.
8. Use Organic Termiticide
If you don’t want to use household items in your organic garden to get rid of termites, look online for Eco-friendly or organic termiticides. Many commercial organic termite solutions claim to kill off subterranean and dry wood termites.