Thursday, August 21, 2008

Subterranean Termites - Prevention & Treatment


The most effective and economical time to implement termite prevention is during the planning and construction process. While I personally have very little faith in companies that perform pre-treats, I have often recommended that you work with your builder to ensure the company that is performing the pre-treat will provide you with a damage guarantee and not a service guarantee. A majority of structural termite infestations are associated with contact with the soil providing termites with food, shelter, moisture and entry into the structure that is very difficult to detect.

Wood, cardboard, paper and other cellulose materials in the soil can attract termites to a structure. These materials should not be buried in fills during the construction process. Mulch and wood chips can attract termites by providing both a food source and favorable moisture conditions. If mulch is used ensure that is does not come in contact with wood siding or framing of doors or windows. Firewood, landscape timers, compost piles and other cellulose material stacked close to a structure attract termites and provide a hidden entry point. to prevent infestation, the materials should be stacked as far from the structure as is practical.

Dense vegetation should not be allowed to grow against the siding and foundation of a building. Shrubs, vines, and trellises make inspection difficult and can trap moisture, increasing conditions favorable for wood decay and termites. High moisture conditions around a structure can contribute to a termite infestation. In additions to reducing vegetation in contact with the building, soil around a structure should be sloped so that surface water can drain.

It would be difficult to list and describe every detail for the different treatments available for the management of subterranean termites. Soil treatment is the principal method used in control, and widely varying types of construction, make it necessary for termite management to think in terms of the principles of management involved in each situation and to adapt management methods to fit the situation. The first primary method used in the United States today is a liquid barrier treatment. I will go ahead and say right here up front that when I am asked which system I prefer I always recommend liquid. This is based upon my experience in the pest control industry and damage claims.

Liquid VS Bait
As with any technology, there are advantages and disadvantages to the use of termite baits compared to the use of liquid termiticides. One advantage to the baits is ease of use. The drilling of structural concrete is often not required with baits. Bait stations are placed approximately ever ten feet around the structure in the soil, whereas the liquid is placed continuously around the structure next to the foundation. The liquid will provide a better continuous barrier of protection around your home. The major disadvantage to bait is the length of time it takes a bait to eliminate a colony. For the most part liquids such as Termidor and Phantom will eliminate a colony within 90 days. Bait systems can take up to 24 months to achieve the same results depending on a number of factors. Also many bait contracts have a colony elimination period. Baits cannot easily be put under slabs or in wall voids where termites often occur. Thus damage may continue to occur until the colony is eliminated. Elimination of the colony may not actually be achieved; colony suppression is more likely, and this is satisfactory as long as damage does not occur.

In many cases, customers may find the idea of continuing damage to be unacceptable, and soil treatment may be desired. In a real estate transaction, it is difficult to issue a wood destroying insects report when termites might be active for an expanded period of time. Finally the absence of termite activity in bait stations may not mean the colony has been eliminated; since termites are sensitive to physical disturbance, it may mean that placing the bait in the station caused the termites to abandon the site and forage elsewhere.

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