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natural remedy for bugs?

 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Does anyone know of anyplace that describes "natural remedies" (not toxic to human chemicals) for bugs?  Or any tips themselves.

I know boric acid is good - err bad - for east coast (wood) termites from reading it in the paper once.  I'm looking for information about west coast (subterranean) ones  though.  I did try searching, but clearly I'm using the wrong keywords.  The only way I could find any information was by putting "boric acid" in my search. Which is backward because that's what I know, but it's for the wrong type of termite.

[edited to fix typo]
 
paul wheaton
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Jeanne Boyarsky
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I think they are subterranean termites.  (These aren't my bugs so I can't verify first hand.)
 
paul wheaton
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Termites is one bug I have never encountered.  But some quick research shows that our old friend diatomaceous earth is, indeed, effective against them.

A fantastic answer in a few months/years will involve a fungus ... but that isn't out yet. 

Some more research ...  I keep coming back to DE being spread thickly under a house.

Borate/boric products are toxic.  They have a lower toxicity than any other toxic product.  Further, the borate/boric products seem to work only if you apply the product to all of the wood in your house generally as you are building the house. 

A bit more info:  http://www.planetnatural.com/site/xdpy/kb/termite-control.html

Here is a great page encouraging predators!  http://www.howtopedia.org/en/How_to_Control_Termite_without_Chemicals

I wonder if you could just put some praying mantis egg cases under your house if that would do the trick!
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Thanks Paul!  I'll use the time I would have spent going to the (big) library looking this up on JForum
 
paul wheaton
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Another interesting perspective:  http://www.crawlspacedehumidifiers.com/

This is similar to some claims I have read (and possibly experienced) about dehumidifiers and fleas.  It sounds like the same may be true for termites.
 
            
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I am with a company that sells a liquid organic fertilizer and we are developing a pesticide and herbicide.
I was online searching for home remedies to see what we might put in the mix and found this link...
Hope that helps.

http://www.plantswap.net/forum/showthread.php?p=2257

Brad
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Thanks again for all the information.  This helps a lot.  And I've learned what to do for problems I'm not currently researching!
 
MJ Solaro
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Chiming in a bit late, but I've heard of treating termites with a microscopic worm called a nematode.  I believe you can purchase them, or many pest control places will know how to get their hands on them.

Heat, freezing, and electrical treatments, in combination with boric products (as per Paul's suggestion) would also be a good way to go, but only if they are dry wood termites.

And make sure once they are gone that you take preventative measures to make sure they don't come back! Get your wood off the ground, dry out the area, make sure wood chips aren't near the house, etc.
 
paul wheaton
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I guess I should have started there.  My understanding is that more than 90% of termite problems are resolved with really simple things like moving the wood pile away from your house, and getting rid of junk piles that include wood. 
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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This is just an apartment.  The nearest wood chips are a quarter block away and nobody keeps wood piles around!  I suspect they are coming from a neighbor.  One idea is to follow the path and see if the neighbor can do something at the source.

A lot of this advice applies to people with more of an "outside", but I've still gotten useful tips.
 
MJ Solaro
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Yikes! If it's an apartment, I hope you're involving the landlord! Termites could be a serious issue for their property over the long term, and they might want to do something about the overall issue...
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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MJ,
The termites don't appear to be inside.  They are subterranean termites so they natural live outside in the soil.  It looks they are swarming as they leave the nests.  I was looking more from the perspective of how to get them to stay outside the apartment.
 
John Meshna
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A really good biological solution to termites is nematodes.
Steinernematids and Heterorhabditids kill termites.  Due to their phoretic relationship with a specialized bacterium, their insect hosts are killed, in general, within hours or days after they invade the host's bodies.  The amount of time between the EPN's invasion and death of the host varies according to environmental constraints such as, in particular, temperature.  At only a few degrees above freezing, for example, host morbidity and death may not ensue for weeks, while at room temperature the typical infection is lethal in 48 hours or less.

The effect of an attack by Steinernematids and Heterorhabditids on their insect hosts has been likened to that of a "guided missile" (Akhurst, R. J., 1993. "Bacterial symbionts of entomopathogenic nematodes", CSIRO Publications, East Melbourne). Immediately after entering the insect, the EPN disgorge their phoretic bacteria "warheads", which multiply and produce (1) a toxin that kills the host, and (2) antibiotics that preserve the host's cadaver.  The EPN feed on the bacteria and use the host's cadaver as an incubation chamber in which to produce multiple infective juveniles, or IJ's. Eventually the EPN IJ's emerge to search for new hosts.
Nematodes are avaialbe on fine organic garden and farm sites like mine
 
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