Does Gasoline Kill Termites? (How About Diesel, Motor Oil, or Petrol?)

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It’s amazing the lengths some people will go to when facing an infestation. Using gasoline or other oil-based products may be one of the craziest we’ve heard of.

But will gasoline kill termites? And what about using motor oil or diesel for termites?

Let’s take a look at various options starting with gasoline, whether they work, and the risks involved.

Does Gasoline Kill Termites?

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Be wary of those who claim they’ve used gasoline to get rid of a termite infestation. The rate of success isn’t very high, unlike the risks involved.

You need to flood the colony by pouring gasoline directly on the entrances. This is easy enough on a mound, but indoor infestations often have their entrances on vertical surfaces.

In the end. you may kill some bugs, but plenty will survive and you’ll have a bunch of new health and safety risks.

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Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Basics

Gasoline, AKA petrol, is a form of processed crude oil mainly used to fuel engines. Diesel is thicker than gasoline, allowing it to provide 20% more energy per drop but less horsepower.

These substances are considered hazardous if touched or swallowed, as well as irritate the mucous membranes.

Being hydrocarbons (molecules of hydrogen and carbon), gasoline and diesel are highly flammable. The fumes from gasoline or diesel fuel are also toxic and flammable. If poured on the ground, it can kill plants and prevent soil from absorbing oxygen.

Oddly enough, petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) is a byproduct that’s safe for topical use and can be used to make surfaces too slippery for many pests to climb.

See Also: Can Kerosene Kill Termites?

How Does Gasoline Kill Termites?

Despite how dangerous gasoline is to humans and pets, it isn’t nearly as toxic to termites. Instead, it kills them through suffocation, which is similar to using smoke or soda.

What Are the Risks of Using Gasoline Inside My Home?

Due to the highly flammable nature of gasoline, it’s a bad idea to use it indoors. Not only does it create an increased fire risk, the fumes can make you sick or even be life-threatening.

Common early warning signs of fume inhalation include dizziness, headaches, and nausea. If not treated, prolonged exposure can lead to permanent health issues.

Can Diesel Kill Termites?

Much like gasoline, yes, diesel fuel can suffocate termites on contact.

When used outdoors, it can not only seal mound entrances but also block oxygen from getting into the soil.

Does Diesel Kill Termites More reliably Than Gasoline?

As mentioned earlier, gasoline and diesel are closely related. Unfortunately, while they may have different effects in an engine, the two substances are no different when using them against an infestation.

Does Diesel Deter Termites?

Termites will generally avoid diesel when a spill is present. When an indoor or outdoor surface is coated, it also creates an oily barrier that critters have trouble burrowing through.

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However. there are far safer alternatives to pouring diesel fuel all over the place.

Does Used Motor Oil Kill Termites?

Motor oil (AKA engine oil) can kill termites, but you will need to douse them in it. If you’re lucky, they may fall into a carefully placed drip pan, but this is unlikely.

A safer alternative is to just use a spray bottle of soapy water or neem foliar spray. The results are the same without the toxicity.

Does Motor Oil Kill Termites in Wood?

As with gasoline and diesel fuel, pouring engine oil on wood is never a good idea.

However, in a pinch, you can dip cotton balls in a bit of motor oil and place them over known termite nest entrances. This won’t kill them, but it will make these pests avoid the entrances.

Is It Safe to Use Motor Oil for Termites at Home?

While not as toxic as an equal amount of gasoline, you need a high concentration of motor oil for it to be effective.

This increases the risk of fire or fume inhalation. Even worse, the oil will serve as a deterrent until it’s cleaned up, then the critters will simply come back.

Will Termites Eat Oil Soaked Wood?

In most cases, they’ll avoid the treated wood. This is why old railroad ties were usually treated with petroleum products.

Of course, no matter whether you use gasoline, diesel fuel, or engine oil, the results will be the same. Without direct contact, the oil will only serve as a deterrent.

Of course, I’ve had clients tell me stories of termites chewing through cyanide-treated telephone poles, so never assume something is 100 percent effective.

Choosing a Safer Alternative

termite droppings
Termite droppings

There are plenty of natural remedies out there that have insecticidal properties similar to pesticides, but at a lower risk.

In most cases, bait methods using borax or sprinkling diatomaceous earth at the nest entrances are the safest and most effective home remedies.

However, termite infestations are serious, and it’s often best to hire a pest control company to assess and treat the infestation.

They’ll choose a fumigation process that can hit even the deepest termite galleries, ensuring the entire colony is wiped out.

Are Pesticides Safer Than Gasoline?

While you need to be careful not to use the same formula too often, pesticides are a good alternative to petroleum products.

Not only are they more effective, but they’re a lot safer when used according to the instructions.

Our Verdict

Unless you’re aiming for a Darwin Award or consider explosions to be a valid form of pest control, you should give gasoline, diesel fuel, and motor oil a hard miss.

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These products simply aren’t an effective solution and carry far too many health and safety risks.

Instead, try using safer chemical solutions such as Terminate Foam or BioAdvanced granules. Alternatively, make your own bait and let the termite population slowly wipe itself out.