A common concern for homeowners is the risk of termite damage. Not only can they cause structural damage by eating through your walls, but they can also destroy furniture and even damage your home’s foundation.
One pest control method that’s been gaining popularity in recent years is using smoke on a variety of critters. Many people have come to us in the past few years asking if smoke can really kill termites or if it’s just another urban myth.
In this article, we will explore the effectiveness of smoke as a method of termite control and discuss a few of the variables that may cause your mileage to vary. We’ll also look at the potential risks associated with using smoke and provide tips for using this method safely.
Can Smoke Kill Termites?
The short answer is yes, smoke can kill termites. However, it is not a foolproof method and may not completely eradicate the termite infestation.
Additionally, it’s not a long-term solution and may only kill part of the colony, leaving satellite colonies completely unharmed. Thus it’s best used against young colonies or as part of a broader treatment plan.
Related: Does Gasoline Kill Termites?
How Does Smoke Cause Termites to Die?
Termites breathe through small holes on the sides of their abdomen called spiracles. When smoke is introduced into the termite’s environment, it fills their tunnels and nests. It then suffocates the termites by filling their spiracles with carbon monoxide and other toxic gasses, drowning out the oxygen.
Think back to those horror movies where the killer locks a person in their garage and starts the car – it’s basically the same thing.
As a bonus, the smoke also disrupts the termite’s communication, causing confusion and disorientation among the colony members. This makes evacuating the colony more difficult.
Unfortunately, smoke will only kill the termites that are directly exposed to it, leaving the rest of the colony unharmed. Additionally, the smoke may not penetrate deep enough into the termite tunnels to reach all of the termites.
It is also worth noting that smoke can be a dangerous and potentially harmful method of pest control and safer methods of termite control are typically recommended.
How to Use Smoke to Kill Termites
There are several types of smoke that can be used to kill termites, including wood smoke, cigarette smoke, and liquid smoke.
Wood smoke is the most commonly used method and involves burning wood chips or sawdust near the termite colony. Cigarette smoke can also be used, but it is less effective and may not penetrate deep enough into the colony. Liquid smoke is a chemical solution that can be sprayed directly onto the termites.
If you are considering using smoke as a method of termite control, it is important to know how to use it effectively. Here are some steps to follow:
- Confirm the termites: Surprisingly, there are a variety of bugs that can be mistaken for termites. While smoke will likely have the same effect on most, you want to ensure you’re not targeting a beneficial insect.
- Locate the termite colony: Before you can use smoke to kill termites, you need to locate the colony. This can be done by looking for mud tubes or tunnels that the termites use to move around, as well as other signs they’re in your walls, like their droppings.
- Prepare the smoke: Once you have located the colony, you need to prepare the smoke. You can use either smoke bombs or smoke generators that are specifically designed for termite control. Follow the instructions carefully to ensure that you use the right amount of smoke for the size of the colony.
- Seal the area: To ensure that the smoke is effective, you need to seal the area around the colony as best you can. This can be done by covering the area with plastic sheets or tarps. Make sure that there are no gaps or holes where the smoke can escape.
- Activate the smoke: Once you have sealed the area, you can activate the smoke. This will release a thick cloud of smoke that will penetrate deep into the colony and kill the termites. Leave the treated area alone for the recommended amount of time.
- Clean up: After the smoke has done its job, you can clean up the area. Remove the plastic sheets or tarps and dispose of them properly. You may also need to vacuum up any dead termites or debris and ventilate the room.
It is important to note that smoke may not be effective for all types of termite infestations. Some colonies may be too large or too deep in the ground for the smoke to reach them. The latter is especially true of subterranean termite colonies.
It might also not always be effective against termitaries that are located in the outer walls of a home, making it harder to contain the smoke. These major termite infestations often require tenting and fumigation or heat treatments to control.
Before using smoke as a method of termite control, it is recommended that you consult with a professional pest control company. They can help you determine if smoke is the right solution for your specific situation and provide guidance on how to use it safely and effectively.
Can Smoke Eliminate an Entire Termite Colony?
As we’ve mentioned earlier, smoke can be effective in killing termites, but it may not necessarily eliminate an entire colony. For example, smoke can disrupt subterranean termite activity, but it may not penetrate deep enough into the soil to kill the entire colony.
Smoke can also cause termites to abandon their tunnels and move to a new location, making it more difficult to completely eliminate the colony. Finally, some walls may be porous enough that the smoke dissipates before it can finish its job.
However, smoke can be a useful tool in combination with other methods of termite control. For instance, chitin synthesis inhibitors can be effective in eliminating termite colonies, and smoke can be used to flush out termites and expose them to the inhibitor.
You can also use it to help finish off a colony that’s already been weakened by slow-acting bait traps.
Do Termites Die From Smoke Exposure Quickly?
Termites are particularly susceptible to smoke. It only takes a few minutes of exposure to kill termites, and the smoke doesn’t even have to be very thick. However, it’s important to note that the smoke needs to be inhaled continuously for several minutes to ensure that all the termites are killed.
It’s also worth noting that the effectiveness of smoke as a termite control method depends on the severity of the infestation. If the infestation is severe, smoke alone may not be enough to completely eradicate the termites. In such cases, it’s recommended to use other termite control methods in conjunction with smoke for the best results.
Pros and Cons of Using a Smoke Bomb for Termites
It’s true that smoke bombs can be an effective solution when it comes to getting rid of termites. However, there are both pros and cons to using this method as with all pest control options. Here’s the good news first:
- Smoke bombs are relatively easy to use and do not require professional assistance.
- Smoke bombs can penetrate deep into the wood and other materials, killing termites that are hidden from view.
- Smoke bombs can also help to deter future infestations by leaving a residue that termites find unpleasant.
Obviously, smoke bombs can be an effective and affordable solution for treating termite infestations. But what about the downsides?
- Smoke bombs can be dangerous if not used properly. They can cause fires or explosions if they come into contact with flammable materials.
- Smoke bombs can only kill termites that are exposed to the smoke. If termites are hiding in inaccessible areas, such as inside walls or under floors, the smoke may not be able to reach them.
- Smoke can also be harmful to humans and pets (especially cigarette smoke with additional chemicals, such as those added in most major cigarette brands), and it’s often necessary to remove kids and pets from the home during a smoke treatment
- Because some forms of smoke may contain chemicals, any exposed food can become contaminated.
- The smoke leaves behind residue, which can help repel pests and humans alike, so the treated rooms will need a deep clean afterwards.
So as you can see, smoke bombs can be helpful when treating termite infestations, but they do come with some risks and additional concerns. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully before choosing to use a smoke bomb and to follow all safety instructions to ensure that the treatment is both safe and effective.
The Final Verdict
Overall, smoke can be a means to kill termites, but it should only be used as part of a comprehensive termite control plan. It’s also important to use smoke in a safe and responsible manner to avoid any potential risks or hazards.