Termite Treatments

Dennis R. Ring, Reichel, Claudette Hanks

The goal of termite Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is to prevent or stop damage caused by termites. There are several options for treating an existing structure for termites.

Pest control operators (PCO) should be consulted for options to be used because treatments vary according to species, degree of damage, building construction and other factors. Since proper treatment includes the use of specialized equipment and large quantities of diluted insecticide and may involve drilling concrete foundations, bricks or walls, untrained people should not attempt to treat a structure for termites.


Soil treatment (Liquid Termiticides) -- The soil is treated with a liquid termiticide under and around a structure to create a continuous chemical barrier that blocks potential routes of termite entry. A trench at least 4 inches wide by 6 inches deep is dug around slabs, piers or other supports touching the soil. The soil put in the trench is saturated with termiticide. Any building material that has a void and touches the soil must be drilled and the void treated with termiticide. Most currently labeled soil termiticides will protect a structure for about five years. Some may provide longer protection.

Wood treatment can be used either as a preventive measure or for the treatment of termite-infested wood. Wood that has been properly treated with inorganic compounds such as borates or copper compounds are no longer food for termites. For the wood to be inedible, the compound must penetrate all of the wood. Termites that feed on such treated wood will die. Termites will surface feed on such treated wood and stop feeding on it. These compounds will not break down; they provide long-term protection from termites, wood-destroying insects and wood-destroying fungi.

Foams -- Termiticide foams have been used to improve chemical barriers, especially in callback situations (a return call on a customer to give retreatment service on a treated house). Termiticide foams are useful in treating structural voids .

The Bait System -- Baits are a more recent technology for treating subterranean termites. Two types of stations have been used. In-ground bait stations are placed around a house in the soil. Generally, monitoring stations are installed first and inspected several times a year for signs of termite activity. Monitoring stations contain a cellulose-containing material, such as wood or cardboard. After termites are found in the station, the cellulose material is replaced by a termiticide-treated matrix.

Above-ground bait stations are placed on walls and floors directly on or adjacent to termite activity or infestation. Termite baits work by killing workers that eat the toxin directly or termites that have shared the toxin with workers. Thus, colonies can be reduced. There are no attractants other than cellulose in the baits.

Fumigation -- In this process, structures are covered with a tent and a lethal gas is released into the structure. This treatment kills termites in the structure but not those in the soil. It is effective in killing drywood termites because they infest and live in the wood without soil contact. Fumigation is not recommended for long-term management of termites without other treatments for controlling subterranean termites because termites in the soil may re-enter the structure as soon as 24 hours after fumigation.

Treating Trees -- Drilling holes and injecting termiticide into the void made by the termites can control termites living in trees. The insecticide should be foamed in infested trees, and the soil around the roots should be treated with a liquid termiticide. It is not known how long trees will be protected from termites after treatment.

3/22/2005 2:57:06 AM
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