If your house is being eaten by termites, you want them to stop – right away. But eradicating a termite infestation is a complex business that takes time. This article discusses why this is so, and reveals some of the secrets of the art of termite eradication.
It’s easy enough to kill foraging termites on the surface. But back in their nest, their queen is busily laying eggs by the thousand every day. The object of termite eradication is to get her to stop; in effect, killing the colony.
Many nests are impossible even for a trained pest eradicator to locate and access directly – only the foragers know where it is. So, pest eradication involves using the surface foragers to transport poisons back to the nest. How do these poisons work?
The effect of termite eradication is to deliver a toxin which disrupts moulting – a vital step in the insect’s life cycle. As such, these toxins are harmless to humans and pets.
There are two methods for delivering bait toxin to a termite colony:
- Dusts and powders placed in and around the active galleries. Particles of poison are transmitted from termite to termite through grooming, eventually reaching the nest and the queen. The problem with this approach is that it can be very difficult to place the powder with sufficient precision that it provides and adequate dose, yet doesn’t disturb the gallery to the point where the termites simply abandon it for more promising territory.
- Baits – these can be placed close to termite activity without disturbing it. They contain powdered cellulose that is less effortful to harvest than solid timber, so once discovered they are strongly favoured by the foragers.
Baits are clearly the way to go. But they can seem to take ages. What’s going on, and how do you know for certain that your assault has worked?
Baits work by interrupting the repeated moulting that the colony’s nymphs must undergo to reach maturity. An individual which consumes and digests a dose of bait poison at a time when moulting is not due will survive until at least the next moult, so the trick is to keep supplying the colony with bait continuously. Moulting is less frequent in winter, so baited colonies usually survive until spring, when moulting resumes. The first moults of spring will kill many nymphs. Their decomposition gases and the fungus that grown on their remains can overwhelm the efforts of the workers trying to evacuate them. The catastrophe overwhelms the royals, effectively killing the nest.
Keeping up the supply of poison
Being easy pickings, baits will be favoured by foraging termites for as long as:
- The connecting tunnel back to the nest remains intact,
- The food supply is maintained.
Chlorfluazuron, the active ingredient in Colony Killer Termite baits, is effective against the two main genera of subterranean termites, the Coptotermes and the Schedorhinotermes. Some of the nuisance species may be indifferent to the bait, or may take it but use it for construction rather than nutrition. We offer a termite identification service (https://termikill.com.au/termite-identi-cation-service) and you can learn more about the different species on the termite identification page