Which is the best termite treatment?

Termites can attack homes in great numbers, so it's important to know which are the best termite treatments to get rid of them and protect your home

Termites can attack homes in great numbers, so it's important to know which are the best termite treatments to get rid of them and protect your home

It’s a pretty common question – “Which is the best termite treatment?” The problem is, there is no easy answer – it depends.

There are a whole range of factors which may dictate the best termite treatment, but it is important to realise the best termite treatment for your house may not be the best termite treatment for your neighbour’s house – each situation is different. The best termite treatment (and therefore the one your pest professional should recommended) depends on a range of factors, the key ones being the construction of the house, the soil type and slope of the block, the species of termites.

It’s also important to remember that if you have active termites attacking a building, there are two stages to the termite treatment process; 1) Eradicate active termites from the building and 2) Install a termite management system to prevent further attack. It’s probably best to look at the various products used in each stage.

What termite products are used to get rid of termites inside buildings?

There are three key products used to eliminate active termites from a building; termite dusts, termite foams and termite baits.

Termite dusts:

The key dust product is Termidor Dust, which can be very effective at eliminating termites – control can often be achieved in around 3 weeks. However, when using a dust it’s important to be able to treat a large amount of termites and so if this isn’t possible, dusts may not be the best product. If the area where the termites are active is damp, it may also prevent the use of dusts as they tend to clog up with moisture.

Termite foams:

A variety of foams are available for controlling termites including Termidor foam. Foams can be very effective when termites are infesting a large area such as a wall cavity. If the termites are only present in mud tubes, foams are less suitable. Again, with a good application, termites can be eliminated from the property within 3 weeks.

Termite baits:

Termite baits can provide the most complete performance, in that they are designed to kill the nest, so the problem won’t return. The bait contains a slow acting insecticide, which the termites take back to the nest, killing the Queen and nest mates. However, this process can take longer for the active termites to be eliminated depending on the species of the termites and what season it is. This baiting of termites can take several months in some cases. Baiting works well on many (but not all) species of termite.

Termites feed on the bait taking it back to the nest where it is fed to the queen and nest mates

Termites feed on the bait taking it back to the nest where it is fed to the queen and nest mates

A good professional will make the best recommendation depending on the situation at your property. Often they will provide more than one option. Be wary of any company that pushes just one option (without a good reason).

What products are used to protect your home from termite attack?

Whether you have suffered a termite attack and want to prevent a future attack or whether you want to install termite protection before an attack occurs, there are two main types of termite management system available; liquid soil treatments( chemical barrier), and termite monitoring and baiting systems.

Liquid soil termite treatment (chemical termite "barrier")

Liquid soil termite treatments, when applied properly are designed to create a complete treated zone around and, in houses with a sub-floor, under your home. It is designed to work in conjunction with the physical elements of your house such as the concrete slab or metal shielding (‘ant caps’) on your piers, to prevent the termites getting in to your house without being noticed.

Termite soil treatment

And that is the important point, no termite system (including soil treatments) can 100% guarantee to stop termites getting into your house. All systems are designed to prevent termites getting into your home, without being noticed. For example, termites can build their way around or over a treated zone (with their mud tubes). If the treated soil is continuous with physical features of the home, their mud tubes can be spotted (a key reason why regular termite inspections are vital) and the problem dealt with.

When correctly installed, a liquid soil treatment is generally considered the preferred method of protecting a property. However, the challenge is installing it correctly – soil types or construction issues may not allow a complete and continuous treated zone to be applied. Any gap in the treated zone could potentially allow termites a way in to your home unnoticed.

Although Termidor is the most well known liquid soil treatment used in chemical barriers, there are other options including Altriset, Ultrathor and Bifenthrin products which also have warranty options available.

Termite monitoring systems / termite baits

Termite monitoring stations/ baits are placed around the perimeter of buildings to intercept any termites in the area before they get into your home. The stations are placed in the ground and contain wood attractive to termites. These stations are then checked every 1 to 2 months by a pest professional, to see if the termites are feeding on the wood. If there are active termites, termite bait containing a slow acting insecticide is placed in the bait station. The termites feed on the bait, taking it back to the nest and killing the colony, protecting the home.

One question homeowners new to termite baiting often ask is, “What stops termites ignoring the bait stations and attacking my home instead?”  From years of research, the required distance between bait stations to prevent this happening is known. So if the system is installed properly and regular inspections are carried out, termite baiting systems are a great way to protect your property.

Which system should you choose?

In addition to the termite species present in the area, there are a number of factors a pest professional will consider to determine whether termite baiting or liquid chemical barrier soil treatments are the best option for your home:

  • Construction type

  • Construction flaws

  • Soil type

  • Slope of block

  • Climate conditions

  • Personal preference

Construction type

Most new homes on the Gold Coast are built on concrete slabs. For a well-built concrete slab home, liquid soil treatments are generally the best option. But if there are construction flaws or the home is of different construction type (on piers, split level or a sloping block) termite monitoring and baiting may be a better option.

Construction flaws

It is surprisingly common for homes to have construction flaws (even new homes!) that mean a continuous treated zone cannot be created with a soil-applied termiticide. Such issues are quite common when extensions are built without appropriate termite protection being installed at the time of construction.

Typically these construction issues result in a break in the physical barrier provided by the construction (for example an untreated join between two concrete slabs). As such even if a complete treatment is carried out around the perimeter of the home, the construction flaw is left unprotected – it’s amazing how good termites are at finding holes in your termite defense!

Homes with construction flaws are better protected by baiting systems or, sometimes, using a liquid soil treatment and termite baiting system in combination.

Homes surrounded by concrete and pavers also present application issues. To treat such homes properly, the concrete should be cut and pavers lifted, to enable a complete application to the soil underneath. Homeowners often don’t want to do this for aesthetic or cost reasons. In such cases, termite baiting systems can be the better option.

Soil type

To get a good, even distributions of a liquid soil termiticide, the soil should ideally be a sandy loam, devoid of rocks. If your home is built on clay or has high rock content, it will prevent the treatment being applied evenly to the soil and therefore gaps in the treatment are likely. In such cases, to apply a liquid soil treatment, the pest professional should be quoting to remove the existing soil from the home perimeter and replacing it with a sandy loam, before the application takes place. This obviously adds to the costs and often makes the baiting system the better option.

Slope of block

The slope of the block can also impact the choice of treatment. Application of liquid soil termiticide to steep sloping blocks can be difficult and there is always the danger of rain moving the treatment away from the application areas, making the treatment ineffective. In such cases termite baiting systems often prove the better option.

Climatic conditions

In tropic areas where the temperature and rainfall levels are higher, liquid soil treatments do not last as long compared to the cooler parts of Australia. Certainly after flooding, there is no guarantee that the treatment will still be working. Termite monitoring and baiting systems are not affected by rainfall in the same way.

Personal preferences

Sometimes it may be possible, and indeed the right option, to use a combination of soil treatment and termite monitoring stations. If your situation allows you to choose between the installation of a liquid soil treatment or a termite monitoring system, it comes down to cost and personal preference – some prefer the termite monitoring systems, being an environmentally smart option (no spraying of chemicals).

Always be aware of pest managers pushing only one treatment type without justification. Your termite professional should always discuss a number of different treatment options for your property, although as we have seen, some of these treatments may not be suitable.

At the end of the day there is no ‘best’ termite protection system that can be applied to all buildings, just the right system for your home and your situation.