Getting Rid of Termites

Termite Spartan 180x179For a lot of people, even before they know if they have termites they wonder what the options are for getting rid of termites. Most people know they don’t want to have a termite problem, but they don’t always know what having a termite problem means.

Termites are small white insects, about the size of ants, they live in soil and they consume cellulose material. Wood is the material most people are worried about but they will eat paper, boxes, and other things that are cellulose based. They build a shelter tubethat looks like a small mud tube, usually smaller than a 1/4 inch wide, and they use that tube to travel. They dislike being exposed to the fresh air so if you break open a tube, they will head for safety and rebuild. That means you won’t see them walking around on your counter or something like that, if you see bugs out and about, likely they aren’t termites. Termites will look basically like this:

Because termites need access to the soil, most termite tretments are designed to treat them there. In my mind there are three basic options for termite treatments once a house is constructed (there are some different ones for before a house is constructed that we can talk about in a different post.)

  1. Repellent Pesticide
  2. Non-Repellent Pesticide
  3. Bait Systems

Repellent Pesticide was widespread as a treatment 10-15 years ago. Basically how the treatment works is a chemical barrier is applied to all known soil access points. That barrier repells the insects and they stay away from it until it breaks down. The termites that are trapped inside will not be able to live without access to the soil, and the termites in the soil will not pass through the repellent barrier.The main challenge we had with these sorts of materials is that there are a lot of potentially hidden access points for termites, and once the easy to find accesses were treated, termites tended to find other access to the structure, thorugh cracks, or penetrations through slabs like plumbing lines that are tough to treat effectivey. For that reason, repellent pesticides are not my first recommendation.

Non-repellent Pesticides are applied in much the same way, but the action is different. Many people have heard of the popular product Termidor, but there are a number of these materials, you may also hear of Premise or Altriset which are non-repellent but just aren’t as widely known. These materials take advantage of the social nature of temites. They are designed to avoid detection by the insects and to have a slower action, even up to two or three weeks. I know at this point you are thinking that doesn’t sound better, but what happens is that time lapse allows termites to take the material and distribute it throughout the colony, and by the time the material has taken affect, it is deeply entrenched in the colony. This gives you a more extensive impact.These are probably the most popular termite treatments in the Austin area.

Bait Systems are a popular treatment as well. Bait stations are placed into the soil at set intervalls around the structure, usually something like 10 feet apart, and those stations contain material termites are looking for, as well as a bait that will work in the same way the non-repellent products work. These systems tend to have a slower action than even the non-repellents, but they can be very effective. They do require ongoing servicing of the stations, usually once every three months, but the nice part is, if you want to remove pesticide from your yard, you simply remove the bait stations.