How to kill termites without killing my family?
March 24, 2015 12:50 PM   Subscribe

We've got termites and everybody says the place needs to be tented. But we actually want to, like, keep living here and not die.

I am having trouble wrapping my head around the idea that we will enclose the house in a tent, pump in poison, then happily skip back into the home a few days later...when all of the furniture, sheets, dishes, pantry items, etc. have a nice coating of poison to then give us all cancer. How the hell is this supposed to work?

The last time the place was termited was in the early 90s before we bought it. At that point, the house was empty and on the market for several months post-tenting, so I didn't worry too much about poison residue. But now the thought of living with my poison-soaked possessions seems insane.

Help me understand how to accomplish this, what the legit, non-woo science is, and/or what you wish you'd known about killing termites.

Lastly, any recommendations for exterminators in L.A.?
posted by BlahLaLa to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think maybe you are picturing the fumigators using sprays or liquid chemicals (hence the idea of a "coating" left behind). It's not like using an aerosol can of bug spray, where the sprayed area is left sticky and wet. It involves a gas that will be pumped throughout the house (using the tent to keep it inside rather than dissipating into the air). My understanding is that it's toxic to inhale.
posted by cranberrymonger at 1:06 PM on March 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also you don't actually leave everything sitting around. The info I've read says to remove (or place in plastic bags / etc) all bedding, ideally including mattresses. Food of course is not to be left. Plates/etc should probably be protected and washed. Etc.

One site on preparation

(We may have this done soon too and I was curious, the answer is basically you have to do a bunch of prep so that things you sleep on / eat /etc are protected)
posted by thefoxgod at 1:13 PM on March 24, 2015

Some places use non-toxic orange oil, like Planet Orange.
posted by w0mbat at 1:27 PM on March 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Is there anyone that can take your stashed food/dishes during the time of fumigation? Storage unit? Hotel room? Friends?

Because I've lived through this and I am goddamned terrible at bagging the food properly and it took me ages to wash all the damn dishes and frankly, it'd be easier to move them all somewhere else than it is to learn how to not die of toxicity with proper bagging.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:35 PM on March 24, 2015

You do not need to remove dishes or bedding; as the link above states, you need to remove plastic coverings to furniture (such as a waterproof child's mattress cover), because this would inhibit aeration.
posted by deadweightloss at 1:47 PM on March 24, 2015

LA resident here. We had termites and tented our house several years ago. We used Borite and were very pleased with them. They did an inspection to make sure we did have termites and where they were in the property, then came out and did a follow-up to make sure they were gone.
posted by mogget at 8:25 PM on March 24, 2015

Yeah, imagine if your house was tented and pure carbon dioxide was pumped in. Anything living in there would die, but when they pumped it out and put regular air back in there wouldn't be a layer of poisonous carbon dioxide on all of your plates.
posted by Jairus at 9:35 PM on March 24, 2015

There is heat treatment extermination for termites.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 11:39 PM on March 24, 2015

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