Ever heard of orange oil? Of course you have, especially when it comes to termite treatments. When you are stuck on the freeway listening to KFI or KNX, you’ll hear an obnoxious ad touting the awesomeness of orange oil. Some folks believe that because the active ingredient in orange oil (d-limonene) is derived from natural sources (oranges!) that it’s safer and more effective than fumigating with Vikane gas.
But is it really?
If this treatment sounds too good to be true, chances are it probably is. Before you run out and buy citrus oil by the gallons from your local health food store or hire one of those other guys, it’s best to consider the research and documentation that has been done on d-limonene versus fumigation and tenting with Vikane gas for termite elimination and control.
How Does Orange Oil Work?
The active ingredient in orange oil treatments is known as d-limonene and is derived from citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons. Besides treating for termites, orange oil is used as a solvent for cleaning purposes (Orange Glo anyone?), a paint stripper and a less pungent and noxious alternative to acetone for nail polish remover.
One of the biggest problems with orange oil as a termite treatment is that you have to get the little buggers to come into direct contact with the orange oil in order for it to kill them. Typically, this is done by drilling holes every five inches into the wood beams of your house and filling them with orange oil. The idea being that the oil saturates the wood, making the wood toxic to the termites.
However, you can see how arduous this would be, since you’d have to go through this little exercise with every piece of wood in your house. And even then, unofficial tests have revealed that using orange oil kills only 50% of the dry wood termites in an affected house.
Plus, oil is greasy and flammable with a flash point of 115 degrees. (Do you think your attic gets above 115 in the summer?) And since the active ingredient in orange oil is used as a paint stripper, there is a possibility that it could damage and strip the painted surfaces the oil comes in contact with. For many, this is a deal breaker when it comes to controlling termites within painted wood. Orange oil is an even harder choice when you consider having to drill holes every five inches.
Vikane to the Rescue
The most popular and (as we believe) best treatments for drywood termites is Vikane gas. Admiral Pest was one of the first companies in the United States to use Vikane gas. More than fifty years ago, Earl Lance was invited to a presentation by Dow Chemical to learn about this new fumigant called Vikane (read about that here). Until then, highly toxic chemicals such as methyl bromide and cyanide were used to treat for termites. Even though these chemicals did the trick, they frequently left behind an odor that many homeowners couldn’t stand. And after some research, scientists discovered that methyl bromide was also found to be damaging to the ozone layer. Vikane on the other hand, doesn’t leave behind an odor and doesn’t harm the atmosphere.
When compared to orange oil, Vikane is leaps and bounds better. While you will have to leave you home for a couple days, just think about the many nooks and crannies of your home that are inaccessible or difficult to get to. For orange oil to be effective, it must come in contact with the termites, which again, requires someone to drill holes in the structure of your home every five inches. Many orange oil treatments flat out miss areas of peoples’ homes because they aren’t accessible. Because it’s a gas, Vikane can penetrate every nook and cranny in your home without having to drill holes. This “blanket coverage” is perfect for odd-shaped structures, and has even been used to save historical landmarks. For example, Honolulu’s iconic Waikiki Shell (an outdoor amphitheater) was plagued with termites, but due to its dome shape it was nearly impossible to spot treat. However, crews tented the structure with Vikane and immediately the termites were gone (click here for an interesting article on this fumigation).
But more importantly, Vikane has over 50 years of university and pest control industry research to back it up, including results from the University of Florida, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Journal of Economic Entomology (to name just a few). Conversely, there is no formal research on the effectiveness and safety of using orange oil to control dry wood termites, nor are there any guarantees it will even consistently work.
And let’s not forget that when you use Vikane to control dry wood termites you get the professionals at Admiral Pest Control to not only administer the treatment, but also follow up on it. After the tent comes down your termite specialist goes through a number of procedures to make sure the Vikane has completely dissipated and your home is completely safe to reenter. On the other hand and besides the permanent holes in your home, orange oil leaves behind a pungent citrus odor hanging around for days, weeks, or indefinitely. If anyone in your family is sensitive to smells or has allergies, this could present a problem.
With spring rains and hot summer on the way, swarms of dry wood termites will be looking for new homes in which to nest. If you suspect they’ve taken up residence in your house, call Admiral Pest Control today to assess your situation. We offer the fastest, easiest, safest way to get rid termites WITHOUT structural damage or lingering odors.