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How to Get Rid of Termites: A Comprehensive Guide

Termites are silent destroyers, causing significant damage to homes and wooden structures without making their presence known. Homeowners spend millions of Rands annually on termite control and repairs. Knowing how to get rid of termites effectively is essential to protect your property. This comprehensive guide will provide you with valuable information on termite identification, signs of infestation, prevention methods, and the best termite pest control techniques.

Termites and flying ants may appear similar at first glance, but there are key differences to help you identify which insect is responsible for an infestation. Termites have a ribbed abdomen, straight antennae, and two pairs of equal length wings, while ants have a constricted waist, bent antennae, and wings of different sizes. There are three main types of termites to watch out for: subterranean, drywood, and dampwood termites.

Subterranean Termites

How to get rid of termites South Africa - Subterranean Termite

These termites are the most common and cause the majority of termite-related damage in South Africa. They nest underground and build mud tubes connecting the ground to wooden structures. Subterranean termites are creamy white to dark brown or black and typically measure between 6.35 and 12.7 mm long.

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites prefer dry wood and do not require contact with soil. They are usually light brown and can grow quite long, ranging between 12.7mm and 25 mm. These termites can be found all over the South African region.

drywood termite holes

Dampwood Termites

dampwood termite

As the name suggests, dampwood termites thrive on wet wood. They are typically brownish-red in color and measure between 12.5 and 16mm long. Dampwood termites can be found in the throughout South Africa.

Signs of a Termite Infestation

Detecting a termite infestation can be challenging, as they often work quietly and out of sight. However, there are some key signs to look out for:

  1. Hollow-sounding wood: If tapping on wooden structures produces a hollow sound, it may indicate termite damage.
  2. Mud tubes: Subterranean termites create mud tubes made of wood and soil to travel between their nest and food sources. These pencil-width tubes are a clear sign of infestation.
  3. Discarded wings: Reproductive termites shed their wings after finding a new place to set up a colony. Finding discarded wings is a sign that termites may be present.
  4. Frass (termite droppings): Small, granular, oval pellets found on doorframes, baseboards, and windowsills may indicate termite activity.
  5. Peeling paint or buckling floors: Termites can cause paint to bubble or peel, and floor tiles to come loose or laminate flooring to buckle, resembling water damage.

If you notice any of these signs, it is crucial to take action quickly to prevent further damage.

What Attracts Termites?

Understanding what attracts termites to your home can help you implement effective prevention measures. Termites are primarily attracted to wood, moist soil, and dark, warm places.

  1. Wood: Termites consume wood, making it their primary food source. Both dry and moist wood can attract termites, depending on the species.
  2. Moist soil: Moisture-rich soil is ideal for termites, as it helps them avoid dehydration and death. Some species even use moist soil to create mud tubes.
  3. Dark, warm places: Termites prefer undisturbed locations and can often be found in gutters, pipes, and other hidden areas.

By reducing these attractions, you can better control and prevent termite infestations.

Termite Prevention

Taking proactive steps to prevent termites can save you a significant amount of money in the long run. Here are some essential termite prevention methods:

  1. Eliminate moisture: Termites require moisture to survive, so fixing plumbing leaks, maintaining proper grading, and addressing leaky air conditioners can help keep termites at bay.
  2. Avoid wood-to-ground contact: Replace soil around your home with sand and ensure a minimum of 15cm of space between the ground and any wooden decks, porches, or patios.
  3. Remove potential food sources: Keep firewood away from your home and remove tree stumps from your property. Consider using termite-resistant wood in areas where wood must touch the ground.
  4. Clear gutters and drains: Regularly clear gutters and drain spouts to prevent water buildup, which can attract termites.
  5. Regular inspections: Have your home inspected regularly by a professional termite pest control company to detect and address any termite activity.

Termite Treatment Methods

While it is best to leave termite removal to professionals, knowing the methods they use can help you understand how to get rid of termites effectively and prevent future infestations.

  1. Soil treatment: Treating the soil around your home with termite insecticides, such as imidacloprid or fipronil, can create a barrier that termites cannot penetrate.
  2. Direct wood treatment: If termites are present inside wood, it can be treated directly with insecticides or other termite-killing products.
  3. Termite baits: Strategically placed termite baits can lure termites in and poison them with slow-acting insecticides or insect growth regulators, which they then carry back to the colony.
  4. Foam and dust agents: Foam agents can be injected into areas where liquid pesticides cannot reach, while dust agents can be applied in areas where foam or liquid treatments are not practical.
  5. Fumigation: While effective in killing all termites in an area, fumigation does not prevent their return. It is essential not to disturb soil treated with termite-preventing chemicals.

In cases where a DIY approach is preferred, there are several methods available, including boric acid treatment, heat treatment, liquid nitrogen treatment, orange oil treatment, and spot wood treatment. However, these methods may not be as effective as professional termite pest control.

Professional Termite Pest Control

If you suspect a termite infestation in your home, it is crucial to call in a professional pest control company, such as Termite Pest Control Cape Town Professional technicians have the experience, knowledge, and commercial-grade products and equipment necessary to effectively eliminate termites and prevent future infestations.

Top pest control companies, such as Pest Managers offer custom-tailored plans and ongoing monitoring and re-treatment programs to ensure your home remains termite-free.


Termites are a serious threat to the structural integrity of your home, causing billions of dollars in damage each year. Knowing how to get rid of termites and prevent future infestations is essential to protect your property. By identifying termites, recognizing the signs of infestation, implementing prevention methods, and employing effective treatments, you can safeguard your home against these destructive pests.

If you suspect a termite infestation, do not hesitate to contact a professional termite pest control company, such as Termite Pest Control Cape Town, to assess the situation and provide the most effective treatment plan for your home. With the right approach and ongoing maintenance, you can keep termites at bay and protect your property for years to come.

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