May 16, 2014
The Truth About Orange Oil
by Alex del Toro, CEO of The Termite Guy and IRC Services
Lately I’ve been asked, “What’s up with this orange oil I keep hearing about?” Having owned my own termite and pest control business since 1991 I can give you the real scoop, as well as share my knowledge and experience with those of you interested in knowing the best methods for eradicating termites.
Maybe you’ve heard this orange oil stuff advertised on the radio. Orange oil companies from California went on a media blitz spending a lot of money advertising that they’d discovered the magical oil that could rid the world of house-eating termites. Here’s the deal: Orange oil is no less toxic than many other termite eradication products we’ve had at our disposal for years. Orange oil is flammable and combustible (its flash point is 115 degrees!) and has also been considered a bio-fuel. The magical solution to eradicating termites isn’t orange oil, it’s FINDING the termites.
Eradicating termites poses many of the same difficulties that outing terrorists poses. A discussion about orange oil and killing termites would be similar to our President and Secretary of Defense having the following conversation about terrorists:
President: “I think we should employ the new stealth fighter to eradicate Al Qaeda.”
Secretary of Defense: “That’s a great idea; however, I think we’d be far more effective with the B-12 bomber.”
President: “Yes, that’s a great weapon, but let’s also engage a nuclear submarine off of the coast of Yemen, just in case.”
What are they ignoring in this conversation? They don’t actually know where the terrorists are located! It is this exact problem that plagues our efforts in termite control. We can’t find the termites. I have been doing termite inspections for over 21 years on a daily basis, and any experienced termite inspector knows that it is virtually impossible to locate all of the termites in a given structure. There are no effective gizmos that assist in locating termites. Several companies have tried to develop termite scopes to locate termites, but they have not been successful because over 10,000 holes would need to be drilled in the average home. It is just not practical.
The truth is that termites are easy to kill. No special oil is needed to eradicate them. A local treatment like orange oil will eliminate termites in a particular part of a piece of wood but it will NOT do anything for adjoining pieces of lumber or anything behind drywall. As of today there is nothing that will keep termites out forever. The only method that can eradicate all of the termites in a given structure is fumigation, which is why most reputable termite companies highly recommend it.
Whole-house fumigation WILL eliminate all of the termites in a structure WITHOUT the need to locate the infestations. People often ask me, “But will termites come back after fumigation?” Yes, it’s possible for termites to someday return because there is no chemical residue remaining afterward to keep them away. In fact, nothing remains to ward them off, but the bright side is that the average house can typically go for 10-15 years between tentings without termite infestations getting large enough to create damage. If a house is sold in the interim then it may be more frequent than that.
The difference between termite eradication for the purposes of selling a house and a homeowner just trying to take a proactive stance against termites is the allowable margin of error. The liabilities of not getting all of the termites during the sale of a home are far greater than simply having to refund a homeowner’s money. This is why the orange oil companies won’t do inspections for escrow.
Yes, fumigation may be a bit inconvenient and the striped tents are far from beautiful, but that’s a small price to pay for the advantages. Money is better spent on fumigation because it does not require finding the infestation first. Detected or not, every termite will be killed during fumigation…making it the best value of any termite eradication method available.
So the next time you hear the words “orange oil,” just remember that it only works on the termites that are accessible, detected and treated with the oil. Unfortunately, unless you live in a concrete slab home with 1920’s board and batten walls, then termite detection is the real issue.
Have a comment, question or suggestion? Feel free to contact us or call 1-877-TERMITE / 1-877-837-6483.