Termite Baiting Process-Overview
What are Termite Baits?
Termite baits consist of paper, cardboard, or other acceptable termite food, combined with a slow-acting substance lethal to termites. The bait must be good enough to compete with the presence of competing tree roots, stumps, woodpiles and structural wood. If the bait kills too quickly, sick or dead termites may accumulate in the vicinity of the bait stations, increasing the chance of avoidance by other termites in the area. Delayed-action or slow-acting bait also enhances transmission of the lethal agent to other termites, including those that never fed on the bait.
Some bait stations are installed below ground out in the yard, and others are positioned within the structure in the vicinity of active termite mud tubes or feeding sites. Below-ground stations typically contain untreated wood until termite activity is detected inside the stations. Then the wood is replaced with active ingredient treated material-the bait itself on.
Until recently, the only methods available for subterranean termite control were the traditional barrier treatments using large amounts of chemicals. There are alternative termite control strategies; baiting systems are the most promising as to replace barrier treatments.
Termite baits are a whole different concept. With this approach, small amounts of material known as the toxicant knocks out populations of termites foraging in and around the structure.
Some homes may have only baits as a stand alone treatment; others may be integrated with liquid or barrier treatments. Using a baiting system with barrier treatments will allow a reduction of amounts of pesticide use.
No termite control method can guarantee you will never get termites. Termite control may include a combination of one or more of these methods, a baiting system, termiticide treatment, moisture control, foaming, removal of earth wood contact, etc.
Termite baiting is a simple process. It can be used preventively to detect termites where they are not yet a problem.
Establish A Solid Feeding Cycle
Establish a solid feeding cycle between the bait stations and the termite colony by "prebaiting", placing monitoring stations that include a wood monitor or inspection cartridges in the soil. You establish this by allowing the foraging termites eat the wood, "sourcing out" the feeding source. If you were to put our the "active" or "toxicant" at this point, you would kill off the very workers that you need to establish the cycle. Once the termites start eating on that wood or the inspection cartridge, introduce the toxicant or active bait.
Place Bait or Toxicant in the Monitoring Stations
Once the termites have been attracted to the monitoring stations, replace the wood or inspection cartridge with a toxicant or bait provided in the system. Termites eat the toxicant bait, feeding it to the entire colony; in THEORY, the colony dies, and the complete colony is eliminated.
Results of Termite Control/Baiting
Currently, there is no way to substantiate claims of "complete" colony elimination. Laboratory tests do suggest that colony elimination is possible, but in reality, they may have multiple food sources. The poisoned bait may not being the only food source.
It is more realistic to expect a termite population reduction, as opposed to a complete termite elimination. In laboratory tests, termites are confined to a test site given only the bait as the choice of food. This is not a realistic scenario with multiple food sources such as buried tree stumps, etc. However, with proper monitoring and bait placement, the termites will consume it, resulting in a population reduction! Because of the smaller population level you would find less stress from the termite colony, resulting in less feeding and less damage. It can be a valuable tool.
Termite baits are an added measure of security and are best used in conjunction with the new nonrepellent termiticides such as Taurus SC, Termidor SC, or other non repellent soil treatments, especially if you have a current infestation .
In infested structures, it is best to treat the area where termites are found with a nonrepellent soil treatment. You would be forcing the termites to travel thru the treated soil to get to their food source(your home). You may use a nonrepellent termiticide with a bait system. We recommend Advance Termite Bait System with Taurus SC.
Exchange Of Food And Body Secretions
Termites frequently exchange food and body secretions as part of their normal activity. This food/secretion exchange is called trophallaxis. Trophallaxis also transfers microbes in the gut that aid in breaking down cellulose to new members of the colony. The termite queen secretes specific chemicals that are used to communicate and direct the activities to all members of her colony. The chemical secretions eventually pass through all members of a colony. The reason why baits are even possible for termite control is because the exchange of food/secretions. This exchange allows slow-acting termite baits to be transferred throughout the entire colony. Eventually, the whole colony will be reduced to such a low level that it can not survive, and termite activity will stop.
Termite Baits Are Not The Same As Other Insect Baits
Termites are not drawn to the bait monitors from a distance. Yes, you will find roach, ant, and even rodent bait that is designed to attract the target pest to the bait, but not for termites. As of yet there is not a bait on the market that attracts termites. However, because termites randomly forage in the ground around their colony in search for food, they will eventually forage at almost every point in the soil around their colony. Placement of bait monitors is an important step. We know enough about their behavior to know where they are most likely to travel.
- The first thing to do in the termite bait installation is to place stations in the ground that contain wood or an inspection cartridge that serve as monitoring tools.
- Once termites start eating the wood or an inspection cartridge in the monitoring stations; you replace the wood or an inspection cartridge with the termite bait(toxicant). Termite baits use small amounts of insecticide to knock out populations of termites foraging around the structure. The toxicant-laced bait should be installed after termites have been detected in an untreated monitoring device.
Termite Bait Monitoring Is Important
For this reason, monitoring and inspecting your bait stations or having them monitored is critical. It is possible for a homeowner to install and maintain an in-ground bait system. However, you should understand that you will need to commit yourself to regular monitoring throughout the first year and at least every three months after that. In research conducted in the southern states, it sometimes took 1-5 months for termites to find the bait stations. In the northern states, the bait stations may not be found by the termites for a year or more. Bait stations may be more likely to be found by termites in the spring when foraging is the most active.
- After the termite bait (toxicant) has been placed, you continue to inspect the bait stations on the recommended schedule. After no more evidence of feeding is seen, it is assumed that the colony has been eliminated, and the bait is once again replaced with the untreated monitoring devices.
- Scheduled inspections should continue to insure that your house is protected. These systems then serve as a long-term monitoring program, and the termite toxicant bait can easily be added to the monitoring stations at the first signs of termite feeding.
It is also important to note that termites will leave an area if they are disturbed. Because they have no natural defenses against disturbances, they simply leave the area they have been feeding. So, it is important to minimize disturbance of termites feeding in the stations. Don't inspect the stations more frequently than recommended. More frequently is not better.
Installation of Termite Baits
Termite baits can be installed in the soil around the home or nearby buildings. Some homes may have only baits as a "stand alone treatment", others may be integrated with liquid or barrier treatments.
Installation Below Ground
Baits stations are put below ground by enticing termites to feed on wooden stakes, cardboard, or some other cellulose-based material. The toxicant-laced bait can be substituted after termite activity has been found in an untreated monitoring device(the preferred way).
Challenges In Bait Monitor Placements
Termites are not lured to the baits or bait monitors; they encounter them by "chance" during their random foraging activities. To increase the odds of discovery, the stations are installed at fixed intervals around the perimeter of the structure, and/or in suspected areas of termite activity (e.g., around woodpiles, stumps, moist areas, and adjacent to previous termite damage). With persistence and patience, you will find the termites eventually foraging and feeding upon one or more of the bait installations.
Perhaps the greatest difficulty in termite baiting is getting termites to find the bait monitors or baits in the first place. This discovery is called a "hit"(attacked by termites). This difficulty will vary from property to property, depending on such factors as termite foraging intensity, time of year, moisture, and food availability. It can be within two weeks or could take a year. In temperate climates bait discovery usually will be greatest during peak foraging periods in the spring and summer. Baiting during late-fall and winter is less fruitful, although termites are occasionally found in below ground stations when air temperatures are in the 30 F range.
The more below ground baits installed, the better the chances of locating termites. Installing more stations increases the odds of encountering multiple colonies, or weakly associated "satellite nests" of the same colony, any of which could be of potential risk to the structure. Planning, patience, and persistence are requisites for successfully using below-ground termite baits.
Regardless of which product is used, the homeowner must be prepared and willing to accept the possibility of a lengthy baiting process.
In certain areas of the country, you may encounter different types of termites, such as Formosan, damp wood, dry wood, etc. If your home is infested with one of these termites, it may require different or more extensive treatment procedures including wood treatment and fumigation.
Treating the wood is an alternative to soil treatments.
However, it must be emphasized that these "spot" treatments on the wood is not a complete termite treatment in that it will not stop the termites from attacking the wood in other areas.
Both products are borax based and must be applied to untreated wood . Important areas for treatments could be in the crawlspace and parts of the framing in a house under construction.
Data provided by product manufacturers indicate that termites do not extend their tubes over treated wood nor do they cause any structural damage.