Termite Eradication

The Inspection and Report

If termites are found in your home, then some form of eradication program is needed, and the cost for this depends on the size of the infestation. Prices will generally start at $1000. If the nest itself can be found, then it can be destroyed directly, but this is not necessary for successful eradication. More often than not, treatment will involve chemicals that target the foraging termites outside the nest, requiring monitoring and return visits by the pest controller.

The following is just a brief guide to the main termite eradication options:

Chemical soil treatments

How it works

This is probably the most common approach to both eradicating a termite infestation and protecting a house from future attack. It can be applied during construction of a house and after, though at a greater expense. The soil is treated with chemicals to provide a continuous barrier in the ground against termite entry. Areas treated include the boundary of concrete slabs or the building, as well as areas such as the patio, and the sub-floor area of a house. It’s important to remember that barriers keep termites out but can also keep them in, so for these soil treatments to work, a skilled pest controller must be employed to both thoroughly inspect the house and grounds first, and make sure secondary nests aren’t inside the house. These will also need treatment.

Things to consider

ask your pest controller whether the chemical soil treatment is a repellent or not. There are a number of products available and they don’t all work in the same way. Repellent pesticides will protect your house if the barrier is complete, but any gap will be detected by termites and could allow them entry to your house. Non-repellent ones allow the termites to pass through the affected soil, where they will absorb the slow-acting poison, carry it back to the colony, pass it on and thus eradicate the entire colony.

Duration

once installed, a chemical soil treatment will need to be checked every 3-6 months and should provide protection for up to five years.

Baiting systems

How they work

Bait boxes or bait station treatments have been developed by the CSIRO and other private manufacturers. These boxes, or stations, contain slow-acting, non-repellent bait that is introduced directly into areas of termite activity. Under the CSIRO model, a baiting box (or, more likely, boxes) is installed at key points around and under the house, in garden beds butting up against the house, etc. At this stage the box contains no chemicals, only food such as untreated wood, cardboard and paper that will attract the termites and give accurate indicators of termite activity. This stage can be carried out by homeowners – if you are extremely sure you know what you’re doing and won’t just disturb the termites into retreating. Once you’re sure of your termites, a licensed pest controller has to step in to handle the introduction of the chemical bait into the boxes, and its monitoring.

Things to consider

There are a number of bait station systems available that roughly follow the above procedure. All rely on a large enough number of termites eating the bait and taking it back to the colony where it is passed on to other termites, thus killing the entire colony. There is uncertainty associated with this treatment: too much disturbance of the termites or the surrounds will give them advance warning and cause them to retreat before they have eaten the bait. The treatment will only work if a sufficiently large enough number of termites eat the bait and termites must “find” the bait in the first place. Considerable skill is needed to successfully install the boxes.

Duration

This termite baiting system requires regular – often monthly – reviews and monitoring by a professional, which will add to the cost: successful elimination of the termite colony may take a few months, or even longer.

Note

one big advantage of this termite treatment method, however, is that it requires considerably smaller amounts of poisonous chemicals than is the case with chemical soil treatments, and it also keeps to a minimum the areas brought into contact with the poison, making it a good option on both environmental and safety grounds.

Health and Safety Issues

  • Chemical treatments can only be carried out by licensed pest controllers. There are good reasons for this. Arsenic trioxide, for example, formerly fairly commonly used, is extremely toxic to humans and is now banned in various countries. Its use is still permitted in Australia, but its application must be handled by a licensed professional.
  • The two main termite control chemicals used ‘Termidor’ and ‘Premise’ both have very little smell, are water based, and are quite safe for humans and animals.
  • It is no longer legal to use organochlorines for environmental and health reasons.
  • Bewa8re of chemical elimination programs that sound suspiciously cheap – they may rely on outmoded, highly toxic poisons no longer recommended for use. New products are safer but are usually more expensive, do not last as long and require greater skill in applying.
  • For more information you can subscribe to Standards Australia for further details on chemical treatments.

There are also various, simple things the homeowner can do around the house to support any chemical treatment which will also help prevent future attacks – check out our Termite Prevention Checklist

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