Termites are a real threat to your home, and a majority of them are subterranean. This means that they live in the soil and find their way to the wood they feed on by building tunnels. To protect your home you can take several protective measures. There are a selection of plants that deter termites and that you can plant in your backyard.
Plants that deter Termites
Vetiver Grass (Vetiveria zizanoides)
A perennial clump type of grass with overlapping leaf bases. Originating in India and mostly used to protect soil from erosion. Not only does it have a complex and deep root system, but also contains an essential oil with a fragrance used in perfumes and lotions. This essential oil contains nootkatone, a natural organic compound which is also found in and smells like grapefruit. Nootkatone is an insect repellent and has shown to be effective against particular types of ticks, mosquitos, bed bugs and head lice, but also other insects such as termites. It is considered environmentally friendly as it is volatile and does not persist in the environment. It is also nontoxic to humans. This research suggests that growing a barrier of vetiver grass could deter termites.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Another perennial that attracts felines, but deters and may even kill termites. A member of the mint family which grows to be 50-100 cm tall and blooms from spring to autumn. Not only cats like catnip, but also butterflies. It is a drought tolerant plant and can be grown in full sunlight. Mosquitoes and cockroaches are other insects that detest catnip.
Marigold (Tagetes erecta)
Marigold or tagetes, may already be a consistent part of your garden, but did you know that they appear to scare off termites and other insects? Not only that, they can also be used as a fungicide, and nematocide to fight off worms. Although it is the root extract that can be used for this. This extract work as a phototoxin and appears to be very powerful against mosquitoes.
False sandalwood (Eremophila mitchellii)
The sap from the false sandalwood shrub has by a coincidence been found to deter and even kill termites. The shrub was used in a fence post which was unaffected by termites. This lead biologists at University of Western Sydney (UWS) and Southern Cross University (SCU) to conduct a study investigating the termiticide properties of the shrub. So, if you wish to incorporate a native in your yard and keep off termites the false sandalwood may be a great option.
- Other plants that deter termites include mint, hot chilli and garlic.
It is very important to keep in mind that these plants are by no means a full protection against termites. They have tendencies to deter termites, but most of the research done have been preformed by using extracted oils rather than growing barriers. Also, much like a repellent barrier any weak spot is a perfect gateway for termites. For instance, many of these oils won’t even be present in the ground unless you crush the plants and pour the oils into the ground. And, also, an issue with the essential oils are their short life span in the soil. They might be present for a day or two, but after that they are gone.
The best way to protect you from termites is to remove one of the following: source of food or moisture. (And to install a non-repellent barrier treatment.) But the first step towards protecting your home is to steer away from conductive conditions for termites. They eat wood and they need moisture to function, so be aware of any dead wood in the yard, anything leaning up against the house and any leaking taps. The second step is to make sure that if the termites tries to enter your home stop them in their tracks by installing a barrier treatment. The function of a non-repellent barrier treatment is that the termites will bring the active ingredient (Fipronil) back to the nest and destroy it from within. Fipronil is a slow acting chemical which over days will be brought into the colony’s nest and do it’s job without the termites even noticing.