That’s a great question. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of termite treatments. The idea behind a termite baiting system is that termites are social insects much like ants. They live in large colonies I the soil. The colonies have workers and reproductives and soldier termites. The workers venture out away from the colony in search of food. Most of the year the soldiers and the reproductive termites stay within the colony while the workers provide the food. It is the worker termites that cause damage to structures. Termites feed on cellulose which they get from wood and when one worker finds food it will leave a pheromone trail telling all the workers of the colony that food has been discovered. Termite bait systems take advantage of this behavior. Termite monitoring stations are placed at a certain interval (10’-15’) around the structure. The monitor which is six to eight inches long is placed in the ground so that the top will be flush with the surface. Inside each monitor is a cellulose bait matrix which actually has no poison or active ingredient in it at all. The monitors must then be checked at least once a quarter (every three months) for the presence of active termites. If there is a colony in the vicinity of the structure, the worker termites will find a monitor or multiple monitors. When the inspector finds termite activity in a station or stations, the inert matrix is replaced with an active matrix which does contain termiticide. The worker termites then begin to forage on the active matrix and to transport the active matrix back to the colony. If, or when enough of the active matrix has been consumed by the colony, the colony can be eliminated which is the ultimate goal of the service.
The advantage of the bait system termite treatment is the fact that very minimal amount of chemical is used and that there is minimal disturbance to the landscape during instillation. The disadvantages to this type of treatment can be numerous. Initial acceptance of the bait matrix can take weeks or even months. Once termites have accepted the matrix and begin to share it with the colony, colony elimination can then takes weeks or again, months. Meanwhile, the same colony can be feeding on the structure causing structural damage. Stations can and do get damaged or destroyed by lawn care machines, landscapers and even vandals. The Bug Master Pest Control does still recommend termite bait stations for certain situations and or certain construction types. One example would be the Texas State Capital Building. Much of this magnificent historic landmark was built below ground level. The basement levels of the building provide many avenues or points of entry for termites to enter the structure undetected and unabated by a conventional liquid application.
A liquid termite treatment, sometimes referred to as a conventional termite treatment is mostly a soil treatment. Most modern structures in Texas are built on a monolithic concrete slab. Monolithic meaning the slab was poured in one single slab without slab joints within the structure. The slab will have plumbing penetrations where water, gas and or electricity is brought in through pipe or conduit from below the slab. Termites will normally enter this type of structure through one of three ways. Worker termites can enter from outside the slab by constructing shelter tubes on the outside edges of the slab, around plumbing and electrical penetration points as described above or through a crack in the slab. In order to protect the structure from this type of infestation liquid termiticide is applied to the soil on the entire perimeter of the slab. A small trench is dug directly into the soil next the slab. Then the termiticide of pumped through an injection rod directly into the soil of the trench and mixed with the backfill as the trench is filled in. To protect the structure further in the areas where plumbing comes through the slab or areas where the slab is cracked the hollow wall voids directly above the penetration points are treated with termiticide. Modern termiticides are designed to be non-repellent to termites. Because the termiticide does not repel the termite workers they will forage through treated soil. They will also use treated soil to construct their shelter tubes. Affected workers live long enough to make return trips to the colony. When they do so they move about the colony exposing other termites to the termiticide. After enough exposure the colony begins to die off. As with the bait system, the ultimate goal is colony elimination.
The upside to a conventional treatment is that generally the initial investment is lower than that of a baiting system. There is very little to no maintenance involved once the liquid has been applied if applied correctly. Usually the structure will be inspected once per year for any signs that termites have infested the structure and only then would more chemical be required. The obvious down side to this type of treatment is the amount of chemical required to do the application. If the soil adjacent to the slab is covered by sidewalk or driveway, holes will have to be drilled and the chemical applied beneath the obstruction to provide a continuous treatment zone around the perimeter of the slab. The holes are then plugged or refilled with cement.
Both systems will work and many times the decision comes down to investor preference or the pest control operators recommendations based on a careful inspection.