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Organic Termite Repellents

Nature in itself is capable of keeping the balance between everything in it. Nature can even extend beyond its own normal boundaries -- in places wherein there are already too much human activities, even the metropolis where all that can be seen are technological advancements together with skyscrapers. In this article, we will focus on one of the problems of the human civilization that has both caused damage and prosperity to two different entities: termite control. To some, termite infestation has cost them their properties but to some, termite infestation has given them livelihood and income. In this specific aspect, nature has given those who are troubled by termites to use botanical repellents which are readily available for anyone's use.

Pathogens Found in Fungi

The fungus which all of us know as brown rot (scientifically called Gloeophyllum trabeum) is actually a very effective termite repellent. The most common house-infesting termite called the Australian subterranean termite (scientifically named as Nasutitermes Exitosus) detests brown rot and will not tolerate a habitat where the same fungi are found. This does not mean that the homeowner should grow and culture brown rot though. All that the home-owner has to do is to locate the termite nest and put the fungi on it. Termites will naturally evacuate their nest!

However, the complexity of nature also appears in the use of brown rot. According to the research conducted by some of the graduate students in Louisiana State University (LSU), a specific specie of termite actually finds brown rot desirable that they intentionally seeks out wood that is infected by brown rot. To date, one native subterranean termite specie has been found to exhibit the same liking to brown rot: the Formosan subterranean termite. So, careful examination is needed before you can actually use brown rot. As a suggestion, you better make a little research as to what a Formosan Subterranean termite nest looks like (I have some articles about them down there in the archive) and at the same time, try to be familiar with how the Formosan termites look like.

Natural Oils

Plants that excrete essential oils like eugenol and citronellal have been identified by many termite-control specialists as significant organic termite repellents. Experts call such plants are Terpenoids. Unlike brown like, these oils are detested by most termite species, including Formosan termites.

The oils extracted by Terpenoid Plants like the redwood tree and bald cypress can be used to treat the wood materials used in the construction of your house. It is also very interesting to note that the discovery of such an organic repellent is incidental; scientists were studying why termites do not attack redwood and cypress. What they found out resulted to the usage of essential oils in repelling termites.

Apart from redwood and cypress, it was also found out that the oil that can be extracted from Kuss-kuss grass (a wild and common grass in Australia) also repels termites and other pests as well (ants and cockroaches). Moreover, the oil extracted from Kuss-kuss grass in very fragrant and it can be used to treat the wood materials of the house while giving off a very pleasant smell that can be aroma theraputic as well.

Small Parasitic Roundworms

In a laboratory setup, it was found out that these small parasites that are classified as roundworms kill termites in large-scale. These worms or nematoids/nematodes (scientifically called Steinernematidae) have been experimented to in various laboratories around Australia and have found great success. However, in the actual setting, it can be easily deduced how nematoids are ineffective organic termite repellents. Termites that infest houses live in dry wooden portions of the house while nematoids can only thrive in moist soil. Termites can also easily find a way to "quarantine" the portion of their colony where the nematoids are.

Boric Acid

Boric acid can be commercially bought nowadays but in essence, this mineral can be extracted from most fruits and plants. Boric acid is also very abundant in seawater. The mineral became popular for commercial use because of its many uses, especially in preventing and curing skin problems like acne. Many commercial lotions and creams are boric acid-based. The same mineral is also used as a powerful antiseptic.

It is not very surprising that boric acid can be used in termite eradication too. Since termites do not think and just eats everything that is in its way, a simple application of boric acid in their nest and in the wood materials of the house will be enough to kill termites. When ingested, boric acid acts like a form of poison that kills the microorganisms inside the intestines of the termites (these microorganisms are the ones that disintegrate cellulose which termites cannot do on their own). Naturally, termites will die shortly after the microorganisms die out of boric acid poisoning.

Neem Tree Bark

Neem tree or Azadirachta indica has been used by many locals to ward off mosquitoes and other pests for centuries now. However, recent studies have revealed that the bark of Neem tree actually repels termites too. The research was conducted in a tea plantation in India wherein termites have been known to do large-scale damages. The researchers found out that termite-damage dramatically reduced to 60% in just three years after Neem trees are planted throughout the plantation.

Why go organic?

Although it is quite clear that organic termite control is not as effective as chemical-based control, why is the use of natural repellents still encouraged nowadays? Unfortunately, the answer is not very obvious. While it should have been easy to quote the classic anti-chemical battle cry: "Chemicals are bad for the environment", for as long as there are legal laboratories that continue to back-up the claims of chemical pesticide manufacturers that their products does not harm the environment, it will be difficult to say who is right. Now then, the campaign on the use of organic termite repellents is all about reminding the public and the pesticide manufacturers that nature can be utilized too in solving the many problems that we face.

It was a real pleasure to write this article for you folks.

Michael Rozatoru :)

your favorite pest control guy :)
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