Termite Control Options

Termite treatments are expensive, and when done properly, the cost is justified because of the significant cost of chemical or bait, equipment, labor, and expertise to do the job right.

Baits or Barriers?

Buildings that have a history of frequent reinfestation or have structural oddities that interfere with the successful implementation of a conventional termiticide barrier application are the best candidates for a bait treatment.

Homeowners on limited budgets may find the cost of conventional barrier treatments less expensive than bait treatments.

Homeowners with a serious termite infestation may be better candidates for the application of a termiticide barrier.

Which approach is best?

Barrier Termiticides

May be less expensive
Application method well understood
“Tried and true”
Control may be faster, an important consideration in real estate transactions

More disruptive and intrusive
Higher risk from some chemicals
Termiticides sometimes break down rapidly in soil
Barriers may fail
Termiticides must be applied carefully to ensure a proper barrier
Certain structural features can make successful barrier treatments difficult or nearly impossible

Termiticide Baits

Fewer environmental/health risks
Less disruptive and intrusive - no drilling
May destroy entire colony (but no way to verify this)
An alternative to chemical barriers for difficult-to-treat structures

May be more expensive
More complicated; special training
Longer to take effect, not practical for real estate transfers. Damage may continue unless some measures are taken to prevent entry.
Passive control, depend on termites “finding” the bait.
Not possible to ensure that the colony has been destroyed.

Termite Inspection Resources

Termite Control Chemicals, Termiticide Classes

Chlorinated Hydrocarbons:
Banned - A few of the better known chlorinated hydrocarbons are DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, heptachlor, and chlordane.

Are generally more toxic to vertebrates (including humans) than the chlorinated hydrocarbons.

Naturally Occuring – are natural insecticides, made from plant extracts. When processed and concentrated, these botanical insecticides are similar to synthetic insecticides. A botanical insecticide used to control some insects is pyrethrum, a natural compound that comes from the chrysanthemum plant. Pyrethrum has low toxicity to mammals but causes very fast knockdown and rapid paralysis in the target insects.

Synthetic Pyrethoids:
Dozens of synthetic pyrethroids have been identified and synthesized. A few used in termite control include fenvalerate, permethrin, cypermethrin and deltamethrin.

The active ingredient of Premise® 75 is imidacloprid, which acts by attaching to specific binding sites at the nerve endings of termites.

Phenyl Pyrazoles:
This is a new class of nonrepellent termiticide. Fipronil was made available as a termiticide during 2000.

Chlorfenapyr is a slow acting, nonrepellent termiticide. The slow acting action allows time for the termites to transfer the chlorfenapyr to other colony members.

Fluoroaliphatic Sulfonamides:
The fluoroaliphatic sulfonamides are relatively new, especially as termiticides. Sulfluramid is a slow-acting stomach poison. There are two termiticide products containing sulfluramid: FirstLine® Termite Bait Stations (FMC Corp.) and Terminate (Spectracide Corp). Both products are formulated as termite baits. Sulfluramid use results in termite colony suppression, not colony elimination.

Trifluoromethyl Aminohydrazones:
Hydramethylnon is the active ingredient in a termite bait system called Subterfuge®. Hydramethylnon Hydramethylnon acts to inhibit the production of energy inside the insect. Insects killed by these chemicals die on their feet, basically “running out of gas”.

Borates. There are several products labeled for termite control that have a compounds containing boron as their active ingredient. Boric acid and disodium octaborate tetrahydrate are chemical forms of boron. The borates are used to treat the surface of wood, either as a preventative or remedial treatment. These products work because the borate penetrates wood and is ingested by termites as they attempt to eat the wood.
Borates are formulated as a liquid (Bora-Care™), or a powder (Tim-bor®) that are mixed with water and applied to the surface of wood. It is also formulated as a gel, Jecta®, that is injected with a syringe into posts, poles and high risk areas through cracks in the wood or predrilled holes.

Nematodes: Insect-eating nematodes are tiny parasitic roundworms that naturally live in the soil. They are sold for termite control.

Pathogenic Fungi:
Many species of fungi live in the soil and some infect and kill insects that live there. It has been known for many years that a fungal pathogen, Metarhizum anisopliae, naturally kills termites. This pathogen is now marketed as a termiticide called BioBlast™

Insect Growth Regulators:
Are a group of compounds that alter growth and development of termites and other insects. Hexaflumuron and noviflumuron (Sentricon®) and diflubenzuron (Exterra® and Advance®) are two IGRs currently registered by the EPA and labeled for termite control. All belong to the group of IGRs that are called Chitin Synthesis Inhibitors, which means that they inhibit the growth of chitin, which is the main component of the insect exoskeleton (insect “skin” or “shell”).

by University of Nebraska, Department of Entomology

Repellency vs. Non-repellency

Termites are affected differently by termiticides, depending upon the way the termiticides are applied (soil, surface of the wood, bait), and by the unique characteristics of each termiticide class or group. Soil-applied termiticides are designed to provide a protective barrier between the termites and your house.

Chloronicotinyls, phenyl pyrazoles, and pyrroles are relatively new non-repellent to the termite termiticides compared to the older synthetic pyrethroids that are highly repellent to termites. Non-repellent termiticides are not detected by termites. Because they don’t know it’s there, the termite workers forage freely in the treated soil. However, because non-repellents are slower to kill and termites that contact the chemical in the soil carry it back to the colony on their bodies.

by University of Nebraska, Department of Entomology

How Long Do Termiticides Last?

Recent studies have shown that all registered soil applied termiticides disappear over time. In one extensive study, it was found that after 5 years less than 10 percent of the initial application rate remains. The loss of termiticide in soil could be the result of individual peculiarities at each treatment site. Evidence indicates that some microbes “eat” termiticides, which could explain part of the disappearance.

Whatever the cause, it should be assumed that the concentration of termiticide will be less each year following the application.

by University of Nebraska, Department of Entomology

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