Flying Termites Dilemma
“Hi Ion, I have a question about termites in the garden, in old sleepers. My question is, can I spray around the area with Bifenthrin to kill them off?” – Ken.
Ion: Yes and no.
There are two types of termites that are often found in retaining walls and build sleepers used to build retaining walls. One of them is a plastering type of termite, which also, are a minor pest. And it makes a very, very thin fragile covering over a fair amount of the sleepers that are showing.
And, yes, that might be brushed off and the area could be sprayed. So, and then that would probably kill off that colony because it probably doesn’t have a very big nest. And there are pictures of that in our ‘how-to’ guide of that type of termite.
They also are found quite often on fences. And, again, there’s a massive thin sheet of mud over the fence. And then, that can be sprayed. But the other termite which gets in behind retaining walls is the either of the two serious ones, the Coptos or the Stilos. And they would use the retaining walls for the very first male and female when they have a colonizing flight, and they can get in behind that retaining wall, and they’ve got soil, and they’ve got food, and they’ve got some protection from birds and lizards, and so they get going.
And so, if those sort of termites is in the retaining wall – sorry, let me start again. If there are termites that have not been putting a big shooting of mud over the outside, like, you see mud in the crevices, in the gaps between the sleepers, then there are two options here – you can fix a termite bait over the holes or into the sleepers, so they’re directly biting into the sleepers.
Or, you can put Termite Traps above the sleepers on the ground above the sleepers. Either way, the scouts looking for the food are likely to find the traps, and then it’s very easy to add bait to the top of the traps, to control the colony that’s hiding it behind the retaining wall.
This next question is from Michael: “If a container of the colony – killer termite bait – has been opened, and water added, as directed, and placed in a position on a trap, after some time, it can dry out. Is it okay to add more water? And, does the bait lose its potency after it dries out? Or, are the active ingredients still good after it dries out and you add water?”
Ion: Yes, the active ingredient does last for a year or so. The only thing that it seems to cause a problem is if it all goes mouldy, with black mould. But let’s not confuse the issue. Termites, generally speaking, don’t mind a bit of mould, but some of the black moulds are a bit co-opt to some termites, so, that’d be the only reason. But drawing it out is not a problem. If you think about it, when you add the water to it, the white powder turns into something like mashed potato. And it’s sort of continuous – all those particles are all bound together like mashed potato. When the water dries out, the particles are still bound together, but that’s just like wood. Except that it’s continuous, and the termite can get into it and pave through it and tunnel through it, and it doesn’t collapse on them.
Being dry, it’s just like soft, pine timber, but even softer than that. And so they’re quite happy to eat it and there’s definitely no need to add water to it, because the water, or the adding of the water, is likely to disturb any termites that are wandering around inside, feeding. So, no, just leave it there. Of course, if there are no termites left in the bait station, there’s no point in leaving the bait there, either. You might as well remove the bait, and get on with your life.
Simon: Very good. And If it’s unopened, this bait will last for ages, won’t it?
Ion: Yes, yes. There’s no expiry date on the bait itself. Without the water, the water is only a potentially complicated factor if it gets wet and goes mouldy with that black mould, and that depends on where you live and what sort of moulds are around at the time.
Question: I am interested to know how to estimate the optimum number of bail stations for a house. I presume that if there are too few, there is a risk that the termites will get to the house before they find the bait stations. Do you have any reports from your users about this, where termites have got to the house but not found bait stations?
A question from Peter:
Does a mixture of diesel and sump oil poured around the perimeter of a building would work against termites, and how long would it last? As far as I can tell, Termite companies rely on ignorance and fear to make their money, but on that score, you are on your own. You’re a good bloke, How is he going to answer on this one?
Answer: Pouring oil around the building that might be an effective barrier and yes it probably lasts for 3 months, but that’s not a long time. And you wouldn’t want that expense or the hazard for just for a few months of effectiveness.