Termites are a terrible problem to have. We recently found some dead swarmers near our windows and were reminded of the toxic chemicals used to eradicate termites. Additionally, a house in our neighborhood became tented with a truck labeled with a poison logo – Inhalation hazard # Two.
Figuring out termite control can be equally confusing. Traditional house tenting and using poisonous chemicals like sulfuryl fluoride – Vikane is now competing with using Orange Oil (XT-2000) which does not require tenting and moving out. There are tradeoffs with each.
Identifying Type of Termite
There are many species of termites but most fall into the subterranean, drywood or dampwood family. It is important your termite company sees the pest and identifies which kind they are.
- Subterranean termites lives in the soil and builds huge nests. Causes the most damage.
- Drywood termites live in wood (dead trees, flooring, house timber) Slower at damaging wood.
- Dampwood termites like in wood with lots of moisture. Houses rarely have enough moisture to support them.
Problems with traditional Vikane Tenting
There are several issues with traditional termite eradication methods, tenting. It will kill all the termites and other bugs in your home.
- Vikane is a poisonous gas
- Expensive, thousands of dollars
- You need to pack away or double bag all your food, pets, and vacate your house for 3 or more days
- Vikane released into the atmosphere becomes a greenhouse gas that can last 30 years in the atmosphere
- One kg of Vikane has 4800 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide
- Modern buildings are so tightly sealed that some areas may go untreated, resulting in repeat tenting
- The number of people that have died due to encounters with Vikane is not public information
- Adjacent homes to ones being fumigated have caused poisoning to their occupants
- Tarping must be done correctly to avoid damage
- Once a house if fumigated, termites can fly back and establish another hive, but it may take years to re-establish
Orange Oil Treatment
Orange oil for termites contain the active ingredient, 95% pure d-limonene. D-limonene is extracted from the rinds of oranges. Boroscopes with fiber optic technology are used to see through walls looking for termites. Orange oil treatment will only kill termites in the infested areas treated as it is a localized spot application. They will treat the area by drilling into the infested wood and injecting the Orange Oil into the termite galleries. The orange oil may destroy insulation or other items in the walls. It is effective for drywood termites, not subterranean termite infestations. No residual effect after it dries up.
Orange Oil vs Vikane Tenting
There is an ongoing battle over the efficacy of orange oil for termite control. This article covers a UC Berkeley Dow Chemical funded study that fumigation companies are using to counter orange oil and push for toxic chemicals like Vikane against termites. If you have used it, make sure you hire a professional cleaning crew to completely clean your home after fumigation. The chemical Chloropicrin is used as a warning agent, before the Vikane gas is used. This is a powerful teargas used to make sure the house is devoid of pets and people, before the actual fumigation. Exposure to it have 119 ppm for 30 min. is lethal. Do you want your home filled with this kind of stuff?
Bora-Care is applied directly onto wood surfaces. Bora-Care then penetrates the wood, protecting it throughout. Because the active ingredient in Bora-Care is a mineral salt, it doesn’t break down over time, so it remains in the wood for the life of the wood, providing long-term protection.
Tenting vs Spot Treatment
Not every house needs to be fumigated. Determining factors will include areas of infestation, level of infestations, size and age of the colonies, type of termites. A trained professional should take all these into account when doing termite control. We had to pull some floorboards and door sills off to help figure out the extent of the infestation.
Dampwood termites have their entire company inside the wood, so spraying is ineffective. You need to solve the moisture problem first.
If you are considering using Orange Oil for termites be sure to locate a licensed and qualified termite control company that offers traditional treatments and fumigation as well as Orange Oil. This way you can receive an unbiased analysis.
Many termite eradication firms are tent companies that would rather not do spot work. Other will do spot treatment with chemicals such as termidor (Firponil)- MSDS shows it is heavy duty stuff, be careful. EU has banned fipronil to protect honeybees. Even some of the orange oil firms will use orange oil then lay down some termidor to ward off future termites.
Use of Termidor is restricted to certified pest control operators in the following states: Alaska, Connecticut, Nebraska, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Indiana, New York, and Washington State.
Greenbug for Localized Termite Control
Recently, the Bugman, an expert in eco friendly green pest control, recommended the use of Greenbug pesticide for the control of drywood termites. This will not work for subterranean termites. Drywood termites need soil contact and live in dry, sound wood located near the surface. You can recognize these termites from their fecal pellets which are often the same color as the wood that they consume.
Termite Inspector Licensing
In California, termite inspectors need a state license that is governed by the Structural Pest Control Act. People that purchase homes have to get a termite inspection done from one of these licensed professionals. They will issue a clearance stating that the home is free from infestation.
Licensed Termite companies can perform these inspections, utilize pesticides to eradicate the bugs, and also repair any structural damage done by the infestation.
We have covered termite pest control in the past and alternative treatments including Orange oil. There are radio commercials running all the time saying that some Orange oil does not contain much Orange oil and is made from petroleum products. We decided to investigate this area to see what the issues are.
Active Ingredients in Orange Oil
Orange oil pest control products contain the active ingredient d-limonene. D-limonene is extracted from the rinds of oranges, and is used in many household products due to its low toxicity. Orange peels are pressed and distilled to produce technical grade orange oil. Orange oil work by destroying the wax coating of the termite’s respiratory system. It is highly acidic making it toxic to termites. Orange oil move through wood, filling up the treated wood until termites are hit. d-limonene is also used in pet shampoos and household cleaners.
XT- 2000 Orange Oil
XT-2000 is one of the main distributors of Orange Oil and advertises 95% pure Orange Oil, they do not mention what the other 5% is. Here is the MSDS document for XT-2000 Orange Oil that does not mention the other ingredients. Orange oil has a residue level of about four days, then it fades away.
XT-2000 claim’s that other product, ProCitra, is only 10% Orange Oil d-linonene and 90% other ingredients including petroleum distillate, so if a pest control firm is not using XT-2000 ask for their MSDS documents to see how much Orange oil is in the product as it can vary. We looked at many pest control web sites advertising Orange Oil or d-limonene and found no consistency.
The Bugman has commented on past studies of Orange Oil. There were some anomalies with application of Orange Oil that may have tainted any results.
Termite control utilizing eco-friendly ingredients is enabled through the use of citrus based products. You can also use similar products to control other pests that affect your life.
Be sure to read our article on Eco-friendly Green Pest Control