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TERMITE BAITING STATIONS AREN’T EQUAL

The Agenda baiting system brings innovations to termite baiting systems, including the largest in-ground monitoring stations and the inclusion of an on-ground bait station.

Termite baiting systems have come a long way since they were first introduced onto the market. But despite the advantages of termite baiting, some systems have their drawbacks. For some, it’s the hassle of finding bait stations on large sites, or the more serious issue of insufficient timber in the monitoring station, meaning the timber can sometimes be found and eaten between one inspection and the next.

The bait stations used in the Agenda Termite Baiting System were developed specifically to overcome these failings and create a more reliable, easy to use monitoring and baiting system. Not only does the Agenda Termite Baiting System incorporate improvements to the traditional in-ground station, it also includes an on-ground station.

Gold Coast pest management company, Surekil, adopted the practice of termite baiting over 18 years ago and has witnessed systems evolve and become part of mainstream termite management plans during that time. Surekil specialises in the installation and management of systems for body corporates, strata and aged care facilities, meaning sites typically have anywhere from 100 to 1400+ stations. It’s perhaps not surprising Surekil is very focused on improving efficiencies.

A large timber food source in stations leads to increased activity

For Paul Humberstone, managing director of Surekil, one of the biggest challenges he and his team face is ensuring the bait stations remain adequately supplied with wood monitors. The effectiveness of monitoring stations is very much driven by the quality and quantity of wood in the station. Studies1 into termite bait technology have shown termites will increase recruitment and be more persistent at a larger food source. With the success of baiting driven by the need to have termites actively foraging on the wood before bait placement, it is important to ensure that not only are the termites attracted to the bait station, but that there is also enough wood in the bait station to ensure the termites are still there at the time of the next inspection.

“It’s our policy to check non-active stations between 8-10 weeks and it’s not uncommon with the longer check periods to find termites have eaten a substantial amount of the station timbers and possibly moved on in search of other food sources. This is far from ideal as there is no guarantee of achieving feeding on bait added to those stations,” commented Mr Humberstone.

Nasutitermes persisting at the large food source even under disturbance

The Agenda monitoring stations have the largest amount of monitoring timber of any monitoring station on the market, which in turn leads to higher aggregation of termites and increased bait acceptance. A controlled study undertaken in 2014 looked at the consumption of wood in an Agenda station (containing 314 g of timber) versus the station of a competitor brand (containing 91 g of timber).2 After 24 days, the competitor station showed a 79% loss of timber, with no worker termites present. Without the presence of workers, no further wood consumption or potential bait consumption could have taken place. Inspection of the Agenda station after 58 days showed a 79.2% loss of timber with worker and soldier termites still present.

The fact that termites remained active at the Agenda station for 34 days longer than the competitor station means pest managers who use the Agenda system are given ample time to switch timber monitors for baits, to gain control of active termites. The findings also indicate that termites find larger food sources more attractive. Taking this into account, Surekil could confidently push out station checks to 12 weeks with Agenda stations if desired.

Schedorhinotermes active after four weeks in an on-ground station

According to Mr Humberstone, his technicians report the Agenda timber monitors are more durable from a decay point of view, with the monitors not needing to be replaced for over 18 months. Given that replacing timber is one of the most expensive parts of managing a termite baiting system, this represents a real saving over systems that use less durable timbers.

“Another challenge we regularly face is locating the stations in garden areas where mulching, leaf litter and debris build-up often cover them,” added Mr Humberstone. “With previous baiting systems, we would install separate marker pegs next to the stations in order to help us locate them, obviously this has additional material and labour costs.”

To counter this, the Agenda in-ground station features an in-built indicator aerial, which allows the easy location of bait stations, saving significant time on inspections and eliminating the need for marker pegs.

The usability and practicality of the Agenda baiting system

The Agenda Termite Baiting System is the only professional baiting system to also include an on-ground station. On-ground stations are often overlooked despite studies3 demonstrating that termite foraging takes place not only in the ground but also on the surface. But being a relatively new concept to Surekil, its technicians needed to see the results for themselves to be convinced.

During an inspection of the common areas of a large complex, active termites were found foraging under a pot plant sitting on the surface of a well-manicured garden bed. This was the perfect scenario for Surekil to trial an on-ground station. Four weeks later, technicians reported termites were active in the on-ground station and the system had led to the recruitment and aggregation of higher numbers of termites. It also provided a practical way to bait and replenish bait to match the level of termite activity.

‘Baiting in progress’ lid keeps the Agenda bait secure

“We’re very happy with the results that we’ve had to date with Agenda and would highly recommend the system,” Mr Humberstone said.

The usability, practical elements and training provided by Bayer makes the Agenda Termite Baiting System a comprehensive offering for any pest management company that is looking to get into termite baiting, or as in Surekil’s case, looking for a fix to some of those issues for long-term termite baiting professionals.

1 Lenz, M. & Evans, T. (2002). Termite bait technology: perspectives from Australia. Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Urban Pests, Charleston, South Carolina, US. Blacksburg VA: Pocahontas Press.
2 Staunton, I. (2014). A selective-choice laboratory bioassay with Coptotermes acinaciformis as an indication of the appropriateness of some commercial termite baiting systems (unpublished).
3 Contributions of Subterranean Termites to the ‘Economy of Chihuahuan Desert Ecosystems’ (1982) Walter G. Whitford, Y. Steinberger and George Ettershank oecologia (55) 298-302.

Chris Mills, Territory Sales Manager, Bayer