Non-repellent insect growth regulators (IGR) and termite bait systems are increasingly popular, not to mention effective. Many termite control experts believe that IGR termite bait systems are better than barrier treatments—in certain situations.
Part I. Seducing Termites: Origins of Termite Baiting Technology
Over the past decade and a half, termite eradication experts have wracked their brains to provide least toxic termite infestation solutions. With the help of exterminators and building inspection services, scientists have developed several models of very effective least toxic termite bait technology systems. Now, termite eradication is almost as simple as mowing the lawn, changing the window screens, or any of the other various home maintenance projects a homeowner must tend to.
The technology behind termite bait control, however, is not as simple as it seems ; the development of effective termite bait systems requires years of testing in four very different climates and soil types before acquiring approval from the FDA and EPA. For example, one termite bait system must remain viable for at least five years in all four of the USDA testing sites to ensure it is effective in multiple soil types:
Arid, desert soil; termite bait systems are tested in Arizona to assure efficiency
Wetlands; tested in Florida and Mississippi
Coastal soils; tested in South Carolina
Part II. Chemicals of Desire: How termite bait systems work
Termites travel underground looking for sources of cellulose to feed on. Termite bait systems take advantage of the opportunistic mentality—so to speak—of termites. Termite exterminators will place termite bait systems roughly 18 inches from the foundation of your home (and, depending on the size of your property, throughout your yard at regular intervals) spaced, on average, at 10 to 15 foot intervals from one another.
As termites forage for food near your home, they find the bait systems instead. Termite bait systems are not only non-repellent; the best of them are attractants which actually draw termites in the local area to them.
Termites do not travel in packs on their search for food, but independently. As one finds food, more will follow . As termites begin feeding on the baits, your termite eradication expert will open the baiting systems and see their activity. The exterminator will then add the fipronil toxin (or whatever active ingredient your termite bait system uses) to the bait.
Fipronil is a slow acting toxin that will spread throughout an entire population before death occurs. While many termite control techniques result in high casualty rates among termite populations that may push the termite infestation away, termite bait stations will kill the entire colony.
Termite barrier treatments can often fail , and are reliant on the stability and density of the soil type remaining fairly constant. On the other hand, termite bait treatments function fully no matter what soil conditions are present.
The active ingredients in termite bait systems vary depending on brand, but all have been proven effective in the four testing environments, averaging between five to ten years’ viability.
Fipronil, Chlorfenapyr, and Imidacloprid
One of the most popular active ingredients in termite bait technologies, fipronil exceeds all government requirements:
Fipronil will last for a solid ten years in most situations, while
Chlorfenapyr only lasts from four to six years, and
Imidacloprid averages an eight year viability rate, although in Arizona it is the most effective, remaining viable two years longer than fipronil, and matching fipronil at ten years in South Carolina.
Clearly, unless you reside in Arizona, fipronil is the most effective termite bait for long-term use.