Dry Wood TermitesATCO
& Subterranean Termites Richard Estrada
Oct 1, 2013: Least Toxic Pest Control Workshop hosted by the Town of Moraga & Parents for a Safer Environment.
Methods to Control Dry Wood Termites:
1) Borate salt broadcast treatment of exposed wood members with “Tim-bor” and or “Boracare.” Borate salt treatment is generally a better preventative method.
2) Heat treat after isolating selected walls of infestation.
3) Inject termiticide into drywood termite galleries. This recommendation can be very effective if properly applied. Common active ingredient is Fipronil or Imidacloprid.
4) “Orange Oil” or citrus peel extracts with Limonene active ingredient.
Orange oil is only labeled for use in the control of drywood termites in residential but not commercial structures. If properly applied this can be an effective tool.
Efficacy of Method & Treatment Period:
1) Borate treatment can be very effective as a preventative measure. It may be best to inject this material into termite galleries. Disadvantage is lack of absorption deep enough into the wood, thus not killing all existing termites. The time to treat depends on the extent of infestation. Treatment should take no less than a half-day. Generally such treatment comes with a one (1) year guarantee.
2) Heat treatments are generally recommended when we feel termite activity may extend into inaccessible areas such as between floors of a two-story structure or in the crawl space from the joists extending into the subflooring. It may also work best when we are unable to expose infested wood members for a chemical treatment because it’s either impractical, too damaging/expensive, or if the client wants the least toxic alternative. Heat treatments expand wood and will eradicate drywood termites in inaccessible areas. This is our preferred treatment.
Duration of the setting up the heating process will take 8 to 12 hours. Treatments come with a one (1) year guarantee. Cons: Heat treatments are by far the most expensive. In addition, there may be areas that are heat sensitive and will not bear high heat temperatures. Linoleum or Pergo flooring materials may not be able to handle high heat for example. Some objects from the home will have to be relocated, such as candles and computers. The core temperature of wall studs need to get to 130 degrees. Pros: The treatment can reach permeate wall voids and get to drywood termites in inaccessible areas and leave no risk from pesticide residues.
3) Treatment injecting a termiticide into the termite galleries such as Termidor or Premise foam. . This recommendation can be very effective only if the material is properly injected into termite galleries. Imidacloprid is the activie ingredient, having a half-life of about 2.5 years. That means that it takes 2.5 years for only half of the activity of Termidor to dissipate. There is long residual activity of the material to control future termite activity.
Cons: Imidacloprid doesn’t break down readily and it has a high potential to become solubilized upon structures getting flooded so it shouldn’t be used in areas where the structures tend to get flooded or where rain or landscaping can wash the material from the treatment area, into the environment. There is a growing number in the population who do NOT want these types of material used, at all. Imidacloprid is also in the family of the neonicotinoid family of pesticides that have been found to be responsible in part, for the Honey-Bee Colony Collapse Disorder. These are systemic pesticides that act as neurotoxins and are very toxic to most organisms. However, in certain situations when very localized usage is required that will not risk exposure and water contamination, and heat treatment is not a feasible option, this is one alternative.
Pros: These materials or active ingredients are “non-repellents”. Termites will not be aware of the poison treated surfaces and due to their social nature begin to contaminate the rest of the colonies with the poison. If some termite galleries are missed, there is still a good chance the termites will work their way back to treated galleries and likely come into contact with the poison and carry it away on their bodies.
4) Citrus oils: The Pros: It’s a naturally occurring material and has no known systemic toxicity in mammals. This material is an effective “contact” termiticide only. This is also a repellent termiticide. Termites may move away from treated areas.
Cons: There is no residual of the material once the material dries in the wood. I have read many studies on the use and effectiveness of this material. I’m not convinced that it’s very effective particularly because its effectiveness is largely dependent on the technician following very specific guidelines for proper application. If the technician follows instructions exactly, this is an effective on-contact control method. Since we are dealing with people’s major investment, I feel that there are other more viable control techniques and materials available. Also, we have had the opportunity to look at other companies’ reports where recommendations were made on the use of d-Limonene or “orange oil.” In almost all instances they will also apply Premise foam and/or Tim-bor along with the orange material.
ATCO uses a variation of the active ingredient, d-limonene in a pressurized can by the name of ProCitra-DL made by Whitmire Micro-Gen. This material is now made by BASF’s MotherEarth line of products. It is not considered an OMRI Certified product since its inert ingredient includes petroleum distillate. Our staff does NOT use the XT – 2000 advertised on the radio on TV. We choose to use Pro-Citra-DL only when the activity is in a very small area, perhaps only one wall stud and not extending in to other inaccessible areas. We will also supplement the treatment with a Tim-bor treatment. We did this on a studio in Kentfield next to the college with great success.
Cost for method:
1) Localized treatments with borates will generally cost between $500 and $900 for an area no greater than 250 sq ft.
2) Localized treatments for heat treatments will generally start at $2,100.
3) Localized treatment using termiticides $ 500 - $ 1,200. ATCO’s minimum charge for termiticide treatment, however small, is $500.
4) Citrus oil: Localized treatments with citrus oil will generally cost between $500 and $900 for an area no greater than 250 sq ft.
Least toxic subterranean termite control system recommended:
(This is more challenging with fewer least toxic options)
1) Termite bait trap installations: helps to decrease activity and doesn’t necessarily provide adequate control in infested soil. These are used by some pest control operators to help decrease numbers but ATCO does not use them and not familiar with their efficacy to comment.
2) Nematodes. These are injected into the soil at the point of activity, where termite shelter tubes extend into the soil. Two applications should be made 4- 6 weeks apart. Monitoring is simply by inspecting. We use Hydrogarden in Colorado’s to order species: Steinernema carpocapsae. Arbico Organics recommends the combination of the Heterorhabditis bacteriophora.
Cost of treatment is minimum of $ 900.00 per treatment, with about 25 linear feet being treated. We have recommended this treatment on four different occasions. Only one residential customer in San Francisco opted for this method. This was applied last year with the six week interval and we’ve had no re-occurrence of subterranean termites. ATCO provided 1 yr guarantee with nematodes.
The next more aggressive step is the use of a new material made by Du Pont that was approved in 2009. It is Altriset. It is a newer product and is considered a reduced risk insecticide and has no Signal Word. The first wave of termites to come into contact with Altriset walk through it, ingest it and carry it on their bodies. Over time, termites become more lethargic and show signs of muscle paralysis. Altriset eliminates the termites in three months or less when used in accordance with the label. The cost of this treatment is a little higher than the use of fipronil. The material must be applied in a more thorough manner. We anticipate 15% to 25% more.
Application of exposed wood members with borates, Tim-bor or Boracare is also advised although borates do not provide immediate control, only prevention.