Termite Baits


Many pest control companies are offering termite baits as a method of termite prevention and control. People are trying to decide whether to protect their homes with soil termiticides or baits. This information is designed to provide information about termite baits so they can make an intelligent decision about termite control options.

Termite baits use small amounts of insecticide to knock out populations of termites foraging in and around the structure. Some baits may even eradicate entire termite colonies. Termite baits consist of paper, cardboard, or other termite food, combined with a slow-acting substance lethal to termites. Regardless of which bait is used, the customer must be prepared and willing to accept the possibility of a lengthy baiting process.

Some bait products are inserted below ground out in the yard, whereas others are installed above ground level on the inside of the structure. Baits are applied below ground by enticing termites to feed on wooden stakes, cardboard, or some other cellulose-based material. The toxicant-laced bait can either be installed initially, or substituted after termites have been detected in an untreated monitoring device. The more below ground baits installed, the better the chances of locating termites. Planning, patience, and persistence are requisites for successfully using below-ground termite baits.

Termite baits may also be installed above ground in known areas of termite activity. Typically, the stations are installed directly in the path of active termite tunnels after the mud tubes have been broken. Effects tend to be more rapid with above-ground baiting because the procedure does not depend upon "chance" termite encounters with the stations.

Termite Bait Systems

The Sentricontm System. This method of termite baiting has been the most extensively tested of those currently on the market. The Sentricon Colony Elimination Systemtm was developed by DowElanco (Indianapolis, IN; 800-888-5511) and is sold only through authorized pest control firms. The Recruittm bait contains hexaflumuron, a slow-acting ingredient which disrupts the normal growth process in termites (i.e., termites die while attempting to molt). Termite control with the Sentricon Systemtm involves a 3-step process: (1) initial monitoring to "pinpoint" termite activity, (2) delivery of the bait, and (3) subsequent monitoring to provide on-going protection . Recruit AGtm is a termite bait for use as an above ground delivery system for elimination of subterranean termite colonies. Recruit AGtm can only be used in conjunction with the Sentricon Colony Elimination Systemtm and is not available as a separate program.

Firstlinetm. Another termite bait is the FirstLinetm Termite Bait Station, manufactured by FMC Corporation (Princeton, NJ) 800-321-1FMC. The product is intended for above-ground baiting of active termite tubes. The station consists of a semi-transparent plastic housing (4x4x1-inches) with open slots at the base. Contained within is corrugated cardboard treated with a slow-acting ingredient (sulfluramid) lethal to termites.

Another formulation of Firstlinetm was introduced for below ground use, FirstLine GTtm ("GT" stands for ground treatment). Label directions emphasize placement of baits in areas where termite activity is known or suspected, i.e., installation may not involve insertion of baits at fixed intervals around the entire perimeter of the building as is required with the Sentricon system. Firstline GTtm may be installed in the soil initially, in effect, by-passing the unbaited monitoring step utilized with Sentricontm.

Terminatetm is a termite bait product sold to homeowners over-the-counter in garden stores. The active ingredient is identical to the FirstLinetm product but was developed completely independently of FMC and without FMC's knowledge or approval. The product guarantees termite control or the homeowner can remove the stakes from the ground after nine months and return them for a full refund. The formulation has not been tested by university researchers to determine how well it works when applied according to label directions.

Exterratm Termite Interception and Baiting Systemtm is a new termite bait developed by Ensystex (888-EXTERRA). Use of Exterratm is a multi-step process. The first step is the placement of stations in the ground around the perimeter of the structure. The next step is inspection of the stations and baiting of active stations with Labyrinthtm (bait that contains the active ingredient). The next step is reinspection of stations and replenishment of consumed bait. When termite activity in the station is eliminated, the station is refurbished and the cycle of inspection and baiting begins again. The toxic bait in Labyrinthtm is diflubenzuron, a chitin synthesis inhibitor that causes termites to die while attempting to molt. The biggest advantage of Exterratm is that stations can be monitored or refilled with bait without disturbing termites in the station.

Deciding on Baits or Termiticide Barriers

Philip G. Koehler, University of Florida
Thomas J. Weissling, University of Florida

Published: April, 1998