If your home comes under termite attack, you might be offered a number of different types of termite treatment. It can be a bit difficult to decide what to do, especially if you get a number of quotes with different recommendations. Sure, cost is always a factor in making a decision, but when you’re protecting the family home, you also want the best termite protection.
The reality is that there is no ‘best’ treatment. The best treatment for your home may be different to your neighbours as treatment recommendation is influenced by a number of factors. Termite professionals should provide treatment recommendations based on the species of termite present, the level of infestation, the building construction, soil type and other environmental factors. As a result, the recommendation will vary depending on the situation.
Here, we try and demystify the treatment options, so you can decide which may be the best treatment for your home and your situation.
There are actually 3 stages to a “best practice” termite treatment, each with their own treatment options.
Stage 1: Eliminating the nest
Where possible every effort should be made to locate and eradicate the nest attacking the home. The challenge here, is that the nests are often well hidden, either underground or in the trunks of trees. And they can be up to 100 m away from the building.
If the nest can be located – maybe it’s a species that produces a mound or test drilling nearby trees have found a nest – the nest can either be physically destroyed or simply flooded with insecticide.
If the nest cannot be located, as is often the case, termite baits can be used (see stage 2).
Stage 2: Eliminating active termites from the building
There are a range of products used to eliminate active termites from buildings: baits, liquids, foams and dusts.
Liquids, foams and dusts have a very similar mode of action – they kill any termites that contact the treatment and there is the potential for the insecticide to be transferred from one termite to another. Although this may magnify the effect of the treatment, it is unlikely to eliminate the entire nest attacking your home. If enough product is applied to all the feeding sites then these products will often eliminate the active termites from the building within a couple of weeks. However, this does not stop more termites returning in the future and so long-term protection is required (see stage 3).
Termite baits work in a very different way. The bait is made up of cellulose (a key component of wood) and a slow acting insecticide. Termites eat the attractive bait, take it back to the nest and pass it around to their nest mates. Over a period of 8+ weeks, all the termites become affected and the nest is eliminated. Although baits take a longer time to act, they will eliminate the nest attacking the home (even if it cannot be located), thus protecting the home into the future. However, this doesn’t stop other termite nests attacking the home.
The choice of product is heavily influenced by the species of termite present (baits cannot be used on all species), the level of infestation and the environmental conditions (eg. dusts don’t work well if it’s humid). The termite professional will make the appropriate recommendation and often there is likely to be more than one option. Any of the recommendations made should eliminate the termites from the building. It then becomes a question of whether you want the termites to be eliminated from the building quickly (with the risk that they may return) or if baiting is an option, whether you are prepared to wait a bit longer for elimination, in the knowledge that it also destroys the nest.
Stage 3: Long term termite protection
Once you have eliminated termites from the building it is necessary to install a termite management system to protect the building from future termite attack.
To provide long term protection for your home there are two types of products:
- Liquid soil treatments
- Termite monitoring and baiting systems
Liquid soil treatments
With a liquid soil treatment, soil around and under your home is treated with insecticide. This creates a treated zone or ‘barrier’ around the building. There are 2 types of insecticide used for soil treatments – repellent and non-repellent insecticides.
The ‘repellent’ insecticides are cheaper, older technology and effectively repel termites that come into contact with the chemical. However, if there are any gaps in the treated zone, as can be the case if the chemical is injected under concrete slabs and pathways, the termites can sometimes find these gaps and get into the building.
The newer, ‘non-repellent’ insecticides are more expensive, but are considered the best option for most soil treatments. Termites cannot detect the insecticide and are killed when they come into contact with the treated zone. In addition, as the termites cannot detect the insecticide, the chances that they will be able to walk through a gap in the treatment without also walking through treated soil is next to zero, making it a very robust treatment.
However, soil treatments cannot be applied to every site. Buildings / sites with the following issues are not suitable for a soil treatment:
- Buildings with known gaps in the foundations that would allow termites to get around the treated zone
- Very sandy, clay or rocky soils. If the soil cannot be replaced, then soil treatments cannot be applied
- Steeply sloping blocks (the treatment will leach downhill)
- Sites with poor drainage or prone to water logging
- Sites near waterways.
In such situations termite monitoring and baiting systems may be the better option.
Termite baiting and monitoring systems
Termite monitoring and baiting system involve placing bait stations in the ground every 3 m or so around the property. Traditional systems utilise wood in the bait stations to monitor for activity and once the termites find the wood, the wood is replaced by a termite bait. These are tried and tested systems and have protected millions of homes around the world. Keeping up to date with the latest technologies, Rebel Pest Professionals also use the AlwaysActive baiting system, which includes long lasting bait in the bait stations from the day they are installed, which ensures the system is always working to eliminate termites.
Baiting systems are cheaper to install than soil treatments, but they have higher annual costs, as it is necessary to inspect the system for termite activity every 3 months. However, Rebel Pest Professionals generally prefer to install termite baiting systems as they are continuously working to eliminate nests in the area and are not affected by rainfall or flooding.
In many situations it may be possible to install either a soil treatment or termite monitoring and baiting system and so it then comes down to a question of cost and personal choice.
The important point to make is that no system provides 100% protection. They are designed to prevent concealed termite entry. That is, with the system in place, termites need to make themselves visible to get into the building. When they do, they can be dealt with. This is why with a termite management system in place, and to maintain any warranty, it is also a requirement to have annual termite inspections.