- Michael Perrino
Do Termite Bait Stations Work?
Termites are annoying pests that feed on wooden structures and can damage the structural integrity of your property. One of the most popular methods to help control their population is a termite bait station. This product is usually installed underground and uses a food source mixed with chemicals to attract and poison the pests.
But are termite bait stations effective in eliminating termite colonies? Termite bait stations are effective in eradicating termites but it needs proper installation, consistent monitoring, and the right ingredients. You also need to learn how bait stations work so that you can increase their efficacy and fix problems that may arise.
How Do Termite Bait Stations Work?
Termite bait stations generally work this way: worker termites feed on the poisoned bait and share them with their nestmates, which will eventually reduce the population of the colonies. There are many factors that contribute to its effectiveness, including the way it eliminates termites and what is found inside the bait station.
1. Process of Installing Bait Stations
Installing bait stations isn’t a simple task. This process requires necessary knowledge about termites so that no bait stations will go to waste. These are placed around the perimeter of a structure, around 1-2 feet from the foundation. Oftentimes, multiple stations are placed around the property at fixed intervals. When you’re installing more termite bait stations, you may want to place them around 10-15 feet away from each other.
When installing bait stations around your home, you also have to determine the possible places where termites live and feed on. This increases the chances of these insects using your bait station as a food source instead of going to other places like trees or wooden structures. Since termites don’t necessarily see the bait, you may want to install bait stations near woodpiles, tree stumps, or moist areas to increase their chances of contact with the product during their foraging.
2. How Termite Bait Stations Eliminate Termites
After termite bait stations are properly installed within the property, it will slowly eliminate the insects and their colonies. Keep in mind that termite bait stations aren’t a quick solution to an infestation -- the process is slow and you need to be patient in waiting for results. The elimination of termites comes in three steps: pre-baiting, the introduction of toxic chemicals, and the slow decline in the colony’s population.
During the prebaiting stage, the termites have to establish the bait station as a food source. For this to happen, a non-toxic food source is initially placed inside the bait stations. When forager termites find the bait, they will leave a scent trail that connects their nest to the bait station. This process is important in increasing the efficacy of the bait station because it establishes the feeding cycle and allows worker termites to transport the bait back to their colony to share it with other members.
Once the termites have established the bait station as a food source, toxic chemicals will slowly be introduced in the bait station. Termites are fed this chemical or hormone until the feeding stops. This depends on the amount of chemical used and the size of the colony. The population of the termite colony slowly declines once worker termites become unable to deliver food sources to the other members.
Additionally, the components of termite bait stations prohibit worker termites from molting. Molting is the process wherein a termite sheds their exoskeleton so they are able to grow. Since molting is an important part of a termite’s life cycle, not being able to do so results in their death. And without worker termites, other members of the colony such as soldier termites and the termite queen are left to starve.
3. Composition of Termite Bait Stations
Termite bait stations are typically made of two things: cellulose and chemicals. Both ingredients work hand in hand to eliminate the termite population so proper usage of both products has to be observed.
Cellulose is a termite’s main food source, which provides the insects with the necessary nutrients for their survival. These insects feed on materials that have cellulose, such as wood, cardboard, and paper. The cellulose used in a termite bait station comes in different varieties, such as strips of wood or compressed cellulose materials.
Different kinds of chemicals can be used in a termite bait station. Some of the most common ones come from a class of chemicals known as chitin inhibitors, which prevent the termites from molting. Bait stations can also include metabolic inhibitors, which prevent termites from converting their food into energy, resulting in their death.
Effectiveness of Termite Bait Stations
Termite bait stations are undeniably effective. However, there are a few drawbacks to this method. Some of them include the following:
Slow-acting: Termite bait stations don’t work as quickly as other methods such as liquid treatments. You may have to wait for a few months before the treatment works since the insects have to establish a feeding pattern first. But once the bait starts to affect the colony, it provides a more long-term solution than other termite control methods.
Relies on luck: You can’t always guarantee that termites will feed on the bait stations, especially if there are other food sources available to them.
May not be effective in eliminating other species of termites: Since termite bait stations are usually installed under the ground or soil, they’re best for eliminating subterranean termites, who nest and travel underground. Termite bait stations may not be effective in eliminating drywood termites and other species aside from the subterranean.
Works during warmer temperatures: Termites significantly reduce their activity during colder seasons, especially if they’re outdoors. Because of this, your termite bait station may not work during the fall or winter. However, it’s still recommended to install the product during the colder seasons so that the surrounding areas can adapt to it.
Termite Bait Stations Vs. Other Termite Control Methods
This is how termite bait stations fare over other termite control methods:
1. Pre-Construction and Post-Construction Treatments
Pre-construction and post-construction treatment both require several stages to ensure their efficacy. Some of the stages of this treatment include treating the soil before any construction is started. This requires ground excavation and filling in the ground around the structure with chemicals or insecticides.
However, a termite infestation can still occur outdoors, especially if you have a huge garden or yard with wood. And if you live in a property that didn’t do the necessary treatments beforehand, you may still face an infestation. In this case, a termite bait station can come in handy in killing off termite colonies that live underground.
2. Liquid Treatments
Liquid treatment is done by digging a trench around the structure’s perimeter, which is then filled with active insecticides. Homeowners may have to drill holes in the foundation for the treatment to be more effective.
But compared to using termite bait stations, liquid treatments can be harmful to the environment since it involves the use of chemicals. Though there are new chemicals that are less toxic, this can still affect the environment and cause harm to the soil and other beneficial insects. They can also have negative effects on someone’s health if they aren’t used properly.
3. Borate Treatments
Borate treatment is a wood preservative that helps reduce the population of a termite colony. The substance kills the insects that consume it. For certain species like subterranean termites, they won’t even try to eat the wood since they will die once they attempt to build mud tubes on it.
Borate treatment contains a natural mineral salt, which is its main active ingredient. When this is applied to wood, it penetrates through the material and remains there forever. There is no reapplication needed since the salt doesn’t break down over time.
However, borate treatments don't provide a pest control solution for outdoor infestations, as compared to termite bait stations. Termites can still be present in your garden or yard if you don’t attend to them quickly. Additionally, if there are any wood piles or lumber in your garden that you haven’t been treated or inspected, the insects can use them as a food source and destroy them.
Tips For More Effective Termite Bait Stations
Make your bait stations more effective by doing the following:
1. Use the Correct Bait
Using the correct bait is essential to a bait station’s efficacy. Without the cellulose inside the bait station, termites will not be attracted to it. Though it’s proven that wood strips or compressed cellulose materials are effective in establishing the feeding cycle, the process of finding the best bait to use may still require a trial and error process.
You can try out different baits to determine which one is the most effective in removing the pests. You may also want to test different brands of termite bait stations to see which can provide the best solution to the infestation. Popular termite bait station brands include Sentricon, Exterra, and Trelona Advance.
2. Place Active Ingredients
Professionals usually use a milder insecticide or active ingredient first before using a more powerful variety inside the bait station. When you use fast-acting chemicals right away, dead termites can accumulate in a certain area and other termites might not want to go near the bait anymore. Moreover, using a slow-acting insecticide increases the chances of termites transmitting the lethal chemical to their nestmates.
3. Maintain the Bait Regularly
Regular maintenance ensures that the bait is continuously fresh and doing its job. Termite bait stations need to be checked at least once a year and then replaced eventually. Likewise, additional bait stations may be needed if the termites don’t find the initial ones. Neighboring colonies might also reinvade the area, so proper maintenance and surveillance of the bait station are also required.
Though you can install do-it-yourself termite bait stations, you can also benefit from letting a professional do the job. Since they have the necessary knowledge for proper installation and surveillance, you can be sure of the treatment’s success.
Termite Removal at Midway Pest Management
At Midway Pest Management, we have a team of experienced professionals who can help you install and maintain termite bait stations. We will start the process of termite removal with a thorough inspection of your property. If no termites are found, we can suggest other services for preventing infestation. Give us a call today to know more about us and our services.
Learn more: Termite Damage Vs. Water Damage: Homeowner’s Guide To Knowing the Difference