Samantha Snyder Extension Educator, Horticulture Oklahoma County OSU Cooperative Extension Service 930 N. Portland OKC, OK 73107 405-713-1125 May 15, 2009
Termites are wood-destroying insects common in most of Oklahoma. They cause millions of dollars in damage annually. Subterranean termites live in the soil and are found throughout the state. The probability that termites will attack wooden structures within 10 to 20 years of being built is greater than 70% in Oklahoma. Termite attacks may begin within a year after construction. We see early termite attacks especially when trees are removed to make the house pad and then the termites attack the remaining root system and find their way into the house through cracks in the foundation. If you know or suspect that your home is infested with termites, retain the services of a competent, professional termite control company. Termite control requires specialized equipment and professional knowledge. This article will help guide you through the process of selecting a termite control service.
1. First of all, do not panic. There is no need to become unduly alarmed if you learn termites are attacking your home. Termites work slowly so your house will not be ruined or collapse before your eyes, as it is sometimes portrayed in the movies. 2. Take your time. Do not permit anyone to rush you into purchasing termite control services. Take the time you need to make an informed decision. A delay of a few weeks will not make any difference.
3. Understand the various treatment methods. Traditional chemical treatment involved applying repellant chemicals to the soil to establish a chemical barrier between the wood in the substructure and the termite colonies in the soil. As long as the chemical barrier remained intact termites would be repelled, not killed, and stay in the soil rather than entering into the structure. In recent years, a new family of chemicals has been introduced that are non-repellants. Non-repellant termiticides applied to the soil do not appear to disrupt termite foraging in the soil. This lack of immediate effect against termites allows extended foraging activities, resulting in a longer period of termite exposure to a toxicant as they tunnel through the soil. The delayed action of the toxicant provides extended time for termites that tunneled into the treated soil to transfer the toxicants to nest mates through mutual grooming. These toxicants are then fatal to the termite. Baiting systems over the past decade have seen great strides and successes through baiting research. One of the disadvantages in the baiting system is that they tend to have unpredictable time frames for control. Controls may require three months and sometimes longer. Advantages of baiting systems include no human exposure to pesticides and increased control in areas that are hard to treat. OSU does not recommend the ‘do-it-yourself’ or homeowner applied baiting systems. Considerable disagreement among researchers and commercial users exists as to whether baits eliminate a termite colony or only reduce numbers in a
population. These bait systems have proven successful in thousands of structural installations and are an important part of a termite management program.
4. The question homeowners often ask is, “What termiticide or bait is the best and the one I should use?” The best termiticide or bait is the one that the Pest Management Specialist has had the most success with in the location and conditions where they will be used. The experience and knowledge of the Pest Management Specialist must be trusted as an important part of the decisionmaking process. For more information about the process of hiring a Pest Management Specialist for a termite problem contact the OSU Master Gardeners at 405-713-1125.
##### Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating. The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.