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ASHES TO ASHES, FOAM TO FOAM

Mike De Luca, Syngenta Technical Manager, explains how to get the most from your foam termiticides and gives tips for expert application.

The Australian Standards for termite management are now in full force, and whilst there has been a focus on the changes to pre-construction treatments, there have also been changes to the recommendations for the treatment of active termites, particularly around the use of dusts.

The new standards specify that any dust bearing the warning description ‘Dangerous Poison’ should not be used in an occupied structure. This signifies the final nail in the coffin for the arsenic trioxide dusts, which formed the basis of the original dust products for treating termites.

The number of other dust options has also reduced recently, with some fipronil-based dusts coming off the market. With the reduction in dust options, pest managers may want to consider alternatives. Foaming is a proven technique for dealing with active termites, and its flexibility in application means it can be used in more situations than dusts. For example, dusts can struggle to disperse in damp, humid areas, but not so foams. We’re all creatures of habit – it can be difficult to make the switch to a new technique – so here are some tips to get you started.

A termite foam is formed when a combination of termiticide and foaming agent are sprayed under pressure. The type of foam required – dry long, lasting foam or wet, short-lived foam – depends on the application situation. There are some aerosol-based foams, but for flexibility and control, it is recommended that you mix your own formulation to meet the requirements of the site of infestation.

To get the best results, you should seriously consider investing in a purpose built foamer. This puts you in control of the amount of active ingredient you use, the rate of foam required for each differing situation, and accordingly, the success of your termite treatments. It’s also a more cost-effective option than the commercially available foam aerosols, as well as looking a lot more professional!

Foams can be applied to a wide range of different situations, such as termite galleries, infested voids (main picture) and under slabs, not to mention ‘untreatable’ spots such as around pipes and throughout insulation. Once the foam fills the space, it collapses slowly so the liquid termiticide forms a residue around the treated area. This enables the active ingredient to reach as much surface area as possible.

As with dusting, the key to success is ensuring as many termites as possible come into contact with the treatment. So a thorough visual inspection as per AS3660.2 (2017) will make sure all entry points and areas of activity have been identified, to make sure the foam is applied to all active areas so that it will come into contact with as many of the termites as possible. This will ensure the foam provides maximum impact for controlling the infestation.

The amount of foaming agent and air present determines the dryness (more air) or wetness (less air) of the foam. Take the time to understand which types of foam provide best results under different applications. The aim is cover as much of the surface as possible.

For wall voids, use a moderately wet foam that spreads the termiticide to base plates, stud frames and internal wall cladding before collapsing to form a residual layer of termiticide on and below the surface.

For sub-slabs, use a very wet foam, as it will collapse quickly and allow the liquid termiticide to be absorbed into the uneven top layer of soil, giving an even treatment zone.

For sub-slab, use a very wet foam application

Foaming can also avoid the ‘spray shadow’ that occurs when there is an obstruction in front of a spray solution (for example, a pipe or a brick in the soil). A very wet foam can treat all sides of any such obstruction by its ability to flow around it.

Both Arilon and Altriset are ideal termiticides for use in foaming – both are non-repellent and have excellent transfer properties. In sensitive sites, Altriset is the preferred option due to it being a non-scheduled product.

Although foaming may seem complicated at first – especially if you’re unfamiliar with the technique – it allows quicker application of larger areas and it’s the flexible option for rapid control of active termites.

Mike De Luca, Technical Manager, Syngenta

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