There are few things scarier than finding a termite colony in your walls or infesting wooden furniture. Homeowners will often resort to extreme measures once they spot an infestation, sometimes causing more damage than the termites themselves.
One such extreme measure is using kerosene or gasoline to kill the termite colony.
But will kerosene kill termites, and should you use it?
Does Kerosene Kill Termites?
Yes. Kerosene can kill termites in two ways.
The hydrocarbon will absorb through their exoskeleton on contact where it disrupts their nervous system. This leads to paralysis and eventually death. The fumes are also highly toxic and will suffocate these nasty pests.
However, the volatile nature of this popular fuel makes it a risky solution. It also presents numerous health risks for you and your family.
Related: Can Kerosene Kill Cockroaches?
Is Kerosene a Good Pesticide?
Just because a product can kill termites on contact doesn’t make it a good option. Instead, you should be asking the question “Is kerosene a SAFE pesticide?”
Unfortunately, the answer to this is no. Any survivors of the colony will flee from the kerosene fumes only to rebuild their colony somewhere else on your property.
Meanwhile, there are all sorts of safety risks that result from using kerosene that could be costly to clear up. In fact, this solution may cost you more in the long run than simply hiring a professional pest control service!
Risks of Using Kerosene for Termites
There are quite a few risks involved with attempting to use this product for pest control. Here are just a few of the dangers this DIY method poses.
Risks to Your Home
It should come as no surprise that coating your home in a highly flammable liquid is dangerous. Even diluted, the oil will soak into your floor, walls, and furniture.
Once this has happened, it’s extremely difficult to get all of the oil out of these surfaces, meaning you’re now created an ongoing fire hazard.
Risks to Your Family
The oil is highly toxic and requires numerous safety precautions such as protective clothing and a mask when using. Beyond the obvious fire risk if it spills, the fumes are dangerous and can lead to numerous side effects or even death.
Today, kerosene is rarely used indoors and a shrinking number of products still use it as a fuel source.
Two Methods of Kerosene Termite Control
It should come as no surprise that people have tried various ways to make kerosene safer as a pest control option. Here are two methods that have been popular among those that dare to try them.
While it doesn’t eliminate the risk of fire, a diluted kerosene mixture can reduce the risks somewhat. Mix one part kerosene to ten parts water and add it to a spray bottle.
Whenever you see termites, spray them directly with the mixture. Note that you will want to scrub any affected surfaces immediately to minimize the amount that soaks in.
This alternative to mothballs involves dipping cotton balls in kerosene and placing them where you see termite activity. The fumes will kill any termites that get too close.
However, the termites will often simply avoid going near the balls. Furthermore, kerosene can still soak into any surfaces you place the balls onto.
See Also: How to Use Smoke to Kill Termites
Is It Dangerous to Use Kerosene and Oil Soap Together?
Kerosene and oil soap are often combined as a termite–killing solution. However, this solution isn’t any more effective and can actually cause additional problems.
Kerosene is combustible, and inhalation of the fumes can cause respiratory issues. Furthermore, oil soap can be an irritant to the skin and eyes, and if consumed, can lead to poisoning in pets or young children.
Safer Alternatives to Using Kerosene for Termites
As we’ve noted, kerosene is a terrible choice for pest control, but we don’t want to end this article without giving you some better alternatives. Here are five safe methods with an excellent track record at a very low cost.
#1 – Bait Traps
Termites love cellulose, so a little damp cardboard makes for excellent bait. Spray it with a little residual insecticide or light dusting of borax to kill the unsuspecting critters.
Alternatively, you can hit them with a termite spray when you see them feeding. There are also commercial bait traps available that contain poisons they’ll share with the colony.
#2 – Borax
Speaking of borax (or boric acid), this common household product is an excellent insecticide. Simply sprinkle it near the entrances to termite colonies.
As the little pests walk over it, they’ll pick some up and ingest it while grooming. The borax will eat them from the inside out, killing them.
It should be noted that while borax is relatively safe, it should still be kept away from pets and children.
#3 – Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a natural, safe product will kill just about any bug, but is harmless to humans and pets (you still don’t want to breathe it in, though).
Sprinkle it where the termites walk and it’ll lacerate their exoskeletons. The victims will lose body fluids and die of dehydration soon after.
#4 – Orange Oil
These pests absolutely hate orange oil, and even professionals use it. You can pour the oil directly into any termite holes or make a spray.
For the spray, you can either mix with straight water or add a little vinegar as well. Use it to protect wooden surfaces such as furniture or floors.
#5 – Sticky Traps
Remember how we mentioned you can use cardboard as a bait trap? Well many sticky traps use cardboard as a base, making them an excellent option.
Leave them near colony entrances and scavengers will get stuck trying to eat the trap, resulting in death.