How Termite Bait Works

There aren't many structural pests that can measure up to termites when it comes to damage. Most of us know that termites are a problem, but we don't know a lot about them. Many homeowners are unaware of the new methods that can be used to control these troublesome pests, and how well they do or don't work. Termite bait is one that you may hear a lot about. Let's take a look at how termite bait works and find out whether or not it's a worthwhile treatment against these unpleasant insects.

Subterranean termites live below the ground in enormous colonies, connected by tunnels. They can travel some distance to find food. In nature, they rely on logs, stumps, decaying tree roots and other sources of cellulose. Unfortunately, many buildings are also made from wood, including sheds, outbuildings and houses. Once a termite colony discovers a home, they'll probably move right in, and it can take years to find them. They're tenacious, good at hiding, and difficult to get rid of.

Conventional termite treatments have long involved creating a barrier with liquid pesticides. This blocked entry from termites, but was very difficult to put into place. It also involved the injection of hundreds of gallons of pesticide along foundations, inside walls, and under slabs. This required drilling, was highly disruptive, and may have long term environmental effects we don't entirely understand. For all these reasons, conventional termite barrier treatment has some real problems.

Termite bait is an alternative approach that uses bait stations. This bait is consumed by foraging insects that go back to the colony and share their food with nestmates. The bait contains a substance that stops termites from reproducing effectively, and causes a long term decline in their numbers. It may even eradicate the colony entirely. Termite baiting takes a long time, and requires a lot of inspection and monitoring, as well as future rebaiting. Baits are made up of cardboard, paper, wood and other cellulose foods that termites like, combined with a slow acting poison.

There are a number of different methods used to deliver termite bait. Some bait stations are installed inside a building, near active termite tubes, while others are inserted below ground in the home's yard. Baiting may be used alone or in conjunction with liquid applications. Most of the time, bait stations start out with untreated wood in them, and once termites are caught in these stations, it is replaced with treated bait material. Stations are generally installed twenty to thirty feet apart around the whole outside perimeter of the building.

Used correctly, termite bait can be an extremely effective, less invasive method of getting rid of or reducing the population of a termite colony. However, it's still an expensive process, and it can take a long time. This means that many people are impatient and unsure of the effectiveness of this solution. If you're interested in using termite bait to combat your problems, be sure to research it carefully, and remember to be patient.

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By Frank Reece. Page last modified Nov. 10, 2008.

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