AZEX Pest Solutions: Mother Earth News

AZEX Pest Solutions: Mother Earth News

Termite Baiting and Other Termite Control Methods

Termite control doesn’t have to be toxic. There are effective, natural methods to get rid of them.

By Amanda Kimble-Evans
Aug. 24, 2009

If you have a termite problem in your home, don’t panic. There are effective measures, such as termite baiting, to control termites.

Safe Pest Control

Standard pest management methods for eliminating subterranean termites involve applying toxic chemicals to your home, your soil, or both. And “tenting” — basically wrapping and fumigating your entire home — is the most common way to dispatch drywood termites. The good news is many of the termite control methods available today are just as, if not more, effective than the toxic exterminations.

Professionally installed baiting systems are the least invasive and most sought after method for getting rid of subterranean termites. Although the active ingredients in the baits are toxic pesticides, they’re effective in contained, targeted, gram-sized doses as compared to dumping 100 to 150 gallons around your home. Baiting systems work by using the termite’s own process of feeding their hoards to deliver poison to the entire colony.

Small bait stations are inserted into the ground around the perimeter of the home. Non-baited wood is placed in each station and they are monitored quarterly for termite activity. If termites are found feeding in a bait station, wood baited with the chemical is inserted. The termites will take the baited wood back to the colony for wider consumption.

“Our baiting system not only stops the termites from feeding on a home, but offers total colony elimination,” says Dave Maurer, marketing manager for the Sentricon System. “And we only use the active chemical ingredient when termites are feeding. When the colony is destroyed, we take the active ingredient out.”

The Sentricon System is accepted as a LEED-approved termite-control system and is currently in use at the White House and the Statue of Liberty. “We place a high-priority on stewardship,” says Maurer. “Quarterly monitoring means we can keep track of treatment efficacy and help catch new colonies before they do damage.”

It can sometimes take several months for a baiting system to destroy a colony, which seems like a long wait. But, most termite damage takes place over the course of years, not months, Maurer says.

Do-it-yourself baiting systems are also available at home and hardware stores.

Extreme heat is the only nonchemical method for destroying drywood termites, and the most proven method for ensuring you’ve completely eliminated a colony. The process is probably the closest you can get to organic termite control.

For whole-house treatment, the structure is tented and hot air is pumped into it. For isolated treatment, the hot air travels through ducts directed into specific areas, such as a wall. Air temperatures must reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit, bringing the wood to 130 degrees (about as hot as a dry sauna), and remain at that level for about an hour.

The price for a full structure thermal treatment for the remediation of drywood termites is comparable to a standard chemical fumigation treatment. But, consider this: “It takes one day compared to three days and two nights. Best of all, its 100 percent nontoxic,” says Ron Ketner, owner of AZEX Pest Solutions, an Arizona pest control company. “If you crunch the numbers, a heat treatment is much less of a burden on both the environment and your wallet.”

Other natural termite control options have lower success rates on their own, but could be used as part of an eco-friendly integrated pest management plan. Some of these options include:

Nitrogen “freeze” treatments
High voltage electricity treatments
Microwave treatments
Biological controls, such as nematodes or fungus
Orange oil applications

Termite Barriers

If you have the luxury of starting from scratch and are in the process of constructing a new house, there are many preventive measures you can employ to stop termite damage before it happens.

Sand, stone, or mesh specifically designed for termite control can be installed around and under a home, creating a barrier termites can’t cross. These physical barriers provide a protective buffer between the hungry insects and potential food sources in a house similar to their chemical-barrier counterpart — but without the toxicity.

Boric acid can be used for termite control. Borate treatments, although often also recommended for post-construction treatments, have a much higher efficacy rate when used as a preventative measure. You can purchase borate-treated wood, spray or brush a borate solution onto untreated wood, fill voids with borate foam, or dust voids with boric acid.

All the termites on Earth outweigh all the humans seven to one. That fact is frequently cited by pest control companies and incites instant heebie-jeebies. But there’s no need to pour buckets of pesticides on your home. A termite is just another bug. Find a pest control professional you trust and insist on natural control methods.

There are primarily two types of termites commonly found in homes in the United States, and each type requires a different method of treatment. Identification of which type is buggin’ you is crucial; here are some basics:

Subterranean termites live in all states in the United States, except Alaska. They cause more property damage nationwide than fire and wind combined. They live in the soil and feed on dead or decaying wood. Moisture is essential to their survival, and they are highly susceptible to dehydration and temperature extremes. Formosan termites, which have a reputation as being aggressive, intelligent and hard-to-kill, are a variety of subterranean termite.

Drywood termites are found in warm coastal regions of the United States and live deep inside the wood on which they feed. Their colonies are much smaller than those of the subterranean variety, but drywood termites are more difficult to detect — they are usually only seen if they swarm.
You Might Have a Termite Problem If …

Knowing what to look for is the first step in thwarting an invasion. Some signs of an active termite problem are:

Spring swarms of winged adults
Mud tubes — especially along foundations. Mud tubes are protective tunnels that the termites build from earth so they can move from their nest to a food source without exposure to light.
Dark, blistered, soft or hollow-sounding wood
Piles of sawdust under pinholes in wood, drywall or wallpaper
Small piles of thin wings

Read More

The Life Cycle of a Termite and Everything You Should Know

Termites are more than just unwelcome guests in your home. They are fascinating creatures with a complex life cycle and social structure, albeit destructive when it comes to wooden structures. Understanding the life cycle of a termite can provide insights into...

How We Eliminate Common Winter Pests in Arizona

As autumn fades into winter in Arizona, pests start seeking shelter from the cold nighttime temperatures. Cracks in foundation walls, gaps around pipes and wiring, and other small access points allow unwelcome guests like spiders, termites, mice, and more to sneak...

How We Eliminate Bed Bugs and Keep Them Away for Good

When it comes to your home and your comfort, there’s little worse than having bed bugs. Bed bugs feed on human blood and want nothing more than to find a way to bite you. Just as bad, once you realize you do, or may, have them in your home, you’ll find you can’t get...

Are You Traveling This Holiday Season? 5 Small Signs You Picked Up Bed Bugs & What To Do Next

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and, often, travel. But while you’re packing your bags and checking off your to-do list, there’s another concern to keep in mind: the potential for picking up bed bugs during your travels. These pesky pests,...

Winged Horrors: The Difference Between Bees, Wasps, and Hornets

October has rolled around, bringing with it the cool breeze, pumpkin spice everything, and of course, the delightful scares of Halloween. But as you gear up for a season of tricks and treats, beware of the real-life creepy crawlers lurking in your backyard – the...

Fall Pests in Arizona: Prepare for the Season

Fall in Arizona is more than just cooler breezes and golden hues; it’s also the season where we say goodbye to the dense concentration of summer pests, and hello to some new ones. As you gear up for the beauty of fall, make sure you give some thought to the bugs and...

How Much Will it Cost to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Arizona?

If you’re dealing with a bed bug infestation in Arizona, one of the most significant considerations is the cost involved in getting rid of these unwelcome guests. When looking at the economic aspects of bed bug extermination, you need to consider not just the...

The Unwanted Guests at Your Summer Barbecue: Common Arizona Pests

When we picture Arizona summers, we imagine laughter-filled barbecues, serene poolside afternoons, and the comforting warmth of the evening sun. But there are a few less-than-welcome guests that might want to join in on your summer activities. Before you ignite the...

Ouch! What Bit Me? 
A Guide for Telling Bug Bites Apart

Whether you're a seasoned Arizonian or a first-time visitor, the diverse ecosystem of the Grand Canyon State could leave you with more than just memories. The next time you find yourself muttering, "Ouch, what bit me?" refer to this helpful guide to identify the...

5 Common Spring-Time Pests to Watch Out for in Arizona

As the days get warmer and longer, Arizona residents can also expect to see seasonal animals and insects emerge. While the butterflies, baby animals, and bees buzzing from flower to flower are all welcome sights, there is perhaps a much longer list of pests we don't...