Termite infestation can be a huge problem for any home or business owner. The damage caused by these insects includes destruction of wood and masonry materials, as well as personal property like furniture, bookshelves, cabinets and more, which makes it an extremely costly issue. Fortunately, there are many ways you can protect your belongings from termites, but one method that most people don’t know about is keeping them at bay with houseplants.
While it may not sound very appealing to use something so non-traditional for pest control, houseplants have long been used around the globe as natural insecticides against pests such as aphids and whiteflies. And while there’s no direct evidence that they actually kill termites (at least none has ever been found), their presence does help repel these unwanted guests. But how exactly do they work? Read on to find out!
Do Termites Live In Plant Soil?
No, termites aren’t typically known to reside within the dirt itself — although some species prefer living in mud tunnels underground. Instead, they feed upon the cellulose present in plant matter, specifically lignin, which explains why termites tend to target trees rather than shrubs. Termites also consume water during this process, which means they’re less likely to harm dryer plants such as cacti or succulents.
What Naturally Keeps Termites Away?
Plant roots serve as the foundation of healthy houseplant life, providing essential nutrients and moisture. They also provide protection from harsh weather conditions, allowing plants to thrive even when other parts of nature take a break. This is especially important because termites prefer to attack softwood over harder ones, making hardier varieties of plants ideal candidates for protecting homes from termites.
In addition to the abovementioned benefits, houseplants have another unique quality that helps deter termites: Their scent. Termite scouts look for signs of disturbance such as broken branches or holes in leaves among others, and if the smell of fresh cut flowers or new growth is detected, they’ll automatically avoid further investigation. In fact, studies show that certain types of scented oils reduce the number of termite attacks significantly.
Another reason why houseplants make great deterrents against termites is their coloration. Most plants produce chemicals called terpenoids, which give off a strong odor similar to turpentine, releasing small amounts of fragrant oils into the air through tiny pores on their stems and leaves. Since termites detect whether or not prey contains food via olfaction, they usually won’t approach anything smelling strongly of turpentine. If you’ve noticed a sudden increase in mosquito population lately, you might notice the same effect working with plants: Mosquitoes will often fly away once they detect the strong aroma of freshly cut roses, lavender or mint.
What Is The Fastest Way To Get Rid Of Termites In Potted Plants?
The best way to deal with a pesky termite infestation is preventing its occurrence altogether. One easy way to accomplish this is buying organic potting soils, since pesticides are commonly added to regular soils to prevent bugs from wreaking havoc inside pots. Another option would be switching up the type of plant you choose based on where you live. For example, if you live in California, opt for citrus plants instead of traditional flowering plants, as citrus fruits contain components attractive to termites. However, if you live in Missouri, stick to popular garden plants such as tomatoes and peppers.
What Plants Keep Termites Away?
One thing to remember is that just any old houseplant isn’t going to stop termites completely. It’s important to pick a variety that produces terpene compounds, otherwise the scent alone won’t scare the critters enough. Some common examples include jasmine, geranium, basil, lemongrass, rosemary, chamomile, hyacinth and catnip [Source]. Additionally, planting multiple kinds of plants next to each other could create a barrier between the different species’ root systems, preventing possible interactions. Also, try choosing larger specimens of foliage-producing plants, as they tend to attract more attention from scavengers looking to feast on dead plant material. Finally, always ensure that your choice doesn’t grow directly beneath overhead power lines, since contact with electricity can cause fires.
If you’d still like to maintain a healthy indoor ecosystem without having to worry about termites too much, consider getting a pet spider plant instead. Although they’re notorious for eating flies, spiders secrete toxic substances whenever they feel threatened. As soon as termites come close, the spider simply releases a sticky substance containing toxins that latch onto the invaders’ exoskeletons and internal tissues. After being ingested, the toxin kills them slowly in order to minimize suffering. Needless to say, this particular kind of houseplant should only be kept indoors, preferably near the kitchen sink area, due to its tendency to suck down large quantities of water.