Quite a Problem
Termites are the most economically important insect in the United
States and in other places as well. Their destructive force is simply incredible and they
cause millions of dollars worth of damage every year. As property owners, we tend to
forget that termites attacking our homes are simply performing their natural function
of breaking down
wood. Termites are common in forests as recyclers of wood.
There are several species of termites in the United States. The
most common ones are the Subterranean , Drywood and Formosan termites. Regrettably, some newer species have recently been discover - introduced from other parts of the world. What makes these
insects so destructive is their ability to actually digest the wood fiber or cellulose.
The actual digestion of wood is performed in the gut of a termite by protozoa living
there. The protozoa are passed on from generation to generation by the feeding of termite
fecal matter from adults to young termites.
Is it a Termite or an Ant?
One of the most urgent questions we get is
where a winged insect found in the home is a termite. Both termites and
ants may have a swarming stage or reproductive. Here are some
characteristics to help you to make a determination:
paddle shaped and are twice the length of the body
are straight and fairly short
only two components: head and (ribbed) abdomen as one continuous piece
somewhat pointed and only slightly longer than the length of the body
Antennae are curved (elbowed antennae)
Body has three distinct components: head, thorax (mid-section) and abdomen
Avoiding an infestation of termites can be achieved to some extent
by eliminating moisture build-up, especially in areas where structural wood exists.
Sometimes, something as simple as adding vents to an area with excessive
moisture can do
wonders to help make wood less attractive to termites.
When it comes to control, there are some do-it-yourself products.
However, it has been our policy at The Bug Clinic to always recommend a commercial
applicator for termite control. There are three reasons for this:
Commercial Termiticide Applications
Currently, there are a few techniques for termite treatments,
depending on the type of termite infestation. However, there is some disagreement among
professional applicators in terms of the performance of these treatments as well as
selecting a method from the variety of treatments that may be done for a particular termite problem. Things are also
complicated existing by state laws in the US which restrict products and
techniques which further
confuses the treatment issue.
The most commonly performed termite treatment
is a perimeter soil treatment. The concept is to erect a insecticidal
barrier by applying termiticide to the soil
surrounding a structure. Several years ago, only a complete barrier
which included treating both the inside and outside of the home was acceptable to the
industry. Today, partial treatments are common with a warranty offered
for the any treated areas only. Applicators, where possible, may treat the
outside only to minimize the inconveniences involved with treating inside a
structure (drilling through floors) and the potential liabilities that accompany that.
There are a number of products in use
today. These include (by trade name) Demon TC, Dragnet FT, Prelude, Phantom, Premise, Prevail, Talstar P Professional and Termidor. The most effective of these
include Altriset, Phantom, Premise and Termidor.
Premise contains a nicotine
derivative call imidacloprid. This product has proven to be the
effective. The second product, Termidor, contains fipronil.
Fipronil has proven to be an excellent control product and the manufacturer is
providing a five year performance warranty to the applicator. (Note to New
Yorkers: neither of these two product is registered for use in your state.)
For home owners in New York, there are now two termiticides that are registered in all states including New York. Phantom contains the
active ingredient, chorfenapyr. It, too, has non-repellent characteristics which make it similar
to both Premise and Termidor. The results from this product have been very good.
The other termite control product that is approved in New York is called Altriset. This product contains a new active ingredient that is very specific for termites. Chlorantraniliprole, a new compound, is qualified by the EPA as a reduced risk pesticide which means it is much less toxic to people and their pets. Its mode of activity is to affect muscle. With termites, it affects their jaw muscles and within hours of contact with soil treated with Altriset, they can no longer chew wood. This is good news because if means that the damage from termites will stop soon after it is applied.
Most of the available soil termiticides may be applied by mixing
them with a foaming agent and using a small compressed air tank which churns up
the mixture into a shaving cream like foam and then pushes the foam into drilled
openings. Foam offers some advantages in situations where liquid
applications cannot be directed into areas where it is needed. There are also a couple of pressurized products that contain a ready-to-use foam that can be applied to voids such as behind steps.
Dusts may be applied to wall voids or other
areas where liquids or foam are impractical. Products that may be used
include Tim-Bor, Drione, Delta Dust and Tempo 1% Dust. Dust applications will only control localized infestations. They are not intended as replacements for soil applications with either a liquid termiticide or a bait treatment.
Direct Wood Treatment
Products such as Bora-Care or Tim-Bor are
applied directly to wood. These will kill both subterranean and drywood termites. In other cases, equipment such "Electrogun" are used
to electrocute drywood termites.
Termite baits for subterranean termites are an alternative to traditional, in-ground perimeter treatments. There
are currently three manufacturers of professionally installed products: Exterra (Labyrinth), DowAgro (Hex-Pro and Sentricon) and BASF (formerly Whitmire - Advance Termite Bait System).
All of these products,
Advance Termite Bait System,
Exterra use an IGR (insect growth regulator) mixed into a cellulose fiber. IGRs help to assure elimination of termite colonies because the fatal effect are slow and undetected by termites.
Typically, monitoring stations are installed at recommended intervals that do not contain active ingredient. Each stations contain a removable component.
The stations are inspected periodically for termite activity. If activity is found in a station (removable component eaten), the affected component is taken out and replaced with a like component containing the active ingredient (Insect Growth Regulator). The IGR is distributed when termites contact and later consume the treated cellulose fiber
Tarp or tent fumigation is generally done using a
Vikane. This technique is used for drywood termites
although it can be used for other species as well. Fumigation will kill
all insects in the treated area, but there is no residual property. This
leaves the area quickly vulnerable once again. Dow AgroSciences
Vikane. Click on the link to learn more about it at the manufacturer's web site.
If you have any other questions on termites, please contact us at
800-433-1128 or 845-356-2837. We can also be reached via fax at 845-746-9018. E-mail us at
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