In Georgia, homeowners need to watch out for termites as their damage can be expensive to repair and their presence is often difficult to detect.
The best course of action is to hire a pest control professional who has the necessary training and equipment to control and prevent termite infestations. The two most commonly used termite control agents are liquid barrier treatments and bait systems. Comparing their effectiveness is difficult because the application and the way they work are different. Both treatments have their advantages and disadvantages.
Liquid treatments like Termidor and Premise create a continuous chemical barrier around the perimeter of the foundation to block termites from entering the structure. Those who attempt to penetrate the treated soil are either killed or repelled. Treatment involves injecting a liquid pesticide into the ground along the foundation of the house, under concrete slabs, and into holes drilled in porches, steps, and slabs.
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Liquid treatments provide a chemical barrier that provides instant protection that can last for several years. However, regular inspections by the pest control professional are still required to assess the effectiveness of treatments.
Liquid treatments have some limitations. Any activity that disrupts the soil can potentially create a gap in the barrier for development, allowing termites access to the structure. Often times, homeowners dislike the drilling and interference that the application of these treatments requires. Chemicals are also introduced into the soil around the structure. High rates of chemical applications, often 150 to 200 gallons of pesticide, are used to ensure adequate coverage.
Bait treatments like Sentricon, Exterra, and Advance are an alternative to liquid termite barriers. The baits use the foraging and feeding behavior of termites to distribute small amounts of the pesticide to others in the colony.
Bait stations are generally placed in the ground at intervals of up to 20 feet around the perimeter of the structure. There are untreated wooden monitors in each station. They are inspected monthly or quarterly, and if live termites are found in the station, bait laced with an insecticide is placed in them.
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The pest control professional will need to return to your home regularly to monitor the stations, usually every three months. However, Sentricon has developed a new bait system called Always-Active, in which the station with the bait is placed in the ground. The termite control company checks the station once a year.
The bait system is a more environmentally friendly way to control termites because it uses fewer insecticides. This is a more viable option in situations where fluid treatments are more complicated and less disruptive to structure. Baits are also a better choice for people suffering from chemical sensitivity.
They have some drawbacks as the stations do not directly protect the structure and the termites have to find their way to the bait stations first. The bait doesn’t attract them. The actual inspection may take some time. Many homeowners mistakenly believe that if they only spot termites that are naturally present, the bait will pull termites closer to the home. The homeowner should expect and even insist on a building inspection once a year.
Which termite treatment is the best? It depends on your specific situation. There are advantages and disadvantages to using both types of treatments. Your pest control company can discuss the various treatments and the type of services you will receive for the costs involved. These can vary depending on the choice of treatment and provider.
Price alone shouldn’t be the only deciding factor. Given the nature and duration of the contract, does the company have the necessary licenses and insurance? Individuals who will be performing the work have the certifications required for termite control and how long they have been doing them.
Also, check their references and contact the Better Business Bureau. To find a pest control company, visit the Georgia Pest Control Association website at http://gpca.org/. For more information about these treatments, see Termite Control Services: Information for Property Owners in Georgia at https://tinyurl.com/ep6ru5j2.
UGA Extension Gwinnett is offering an evening program on termites and their control, which will take place online via Zoom on February 23 from 6 to 7 p.m. You can contact the expansion office to register.
Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Expansion Agent for UGA Extension Gwinnett.