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THE SECOND CHEQUE IS FOR THE INSURANCE

Joanne George of Dow Agrosciences assesses the termite protection systems on offer to homeowners. 

The post-construction termite market is typically curative (treating for termites) or post-curative prevention (stopping termites from attacking again). With the economic climate the way it is, getting a preventative sale without any history of termite activity is one worth celebrating. One should be mindful however of the line from the movie The Blind Side: “The first cheque you write is for the mortgage, but the second is for the insurance.”

Given that most home insurance policies do not cover termite damage, the addition of a preventative termite management system must be given the same significance as taking out a home insurance policy. After all, termite damage is costing Australians $130 million [1] every year with some homeowners having to spend more than $10,000 on home repairs (source: www.propertymanager.net.au).

In the preventative market, homeowners have three options: liquid chemical treatments, monitoring systems or Sentricon AlwaysActive.

Liquid chemical treatments either kill individual termites, in the hope that enough will be killed to prevent significant damage, or they repel termites, so the termites simply forage somewhere else (maybe the fence instead of the house!). They have the benefit of being immediate, but unfortunately they involve embedding chemicals around the structure, which will more often than not be someone’s home. Will children, pets, other animals come into contact with them? How long do these chemicals remain active on the soil and how long will they last before they need to be re-applied?

Liquid soil treatments are only designed to prevent concealed entry into buildings. This assumes they have been applied correctly (which can be difficult to achieve; it is hard to uniformly wet soil and to the required depth) and there are no construction faults or landscaping (or other) activities that create a gap in the treatment. Research has shown that liquid soil treatments rarely result in colony elimination [2]. Without eliminating the nests around the property, termite pressure will be maintained and potentially increase, putting any treatment under pressure and the increasing the chances of termites finding a gap or weakness in the treatment.

Monitoring systems use stations positioned around a structure that contain pieces of wood, which attract termites. Pest managers monitor these stations and as soon as they become ‘active’ (with foraging termites) they replace the pieces of wood with a termiticide. The termiticide is typically a paste that needs to be mixed onsite with water and inserted into the station, hopefully without scaring the termites away from the site.

There is very little in this picture that is attractive to a homeowner. Firstly, not everyone will welcome the idea of having pieces of wood placed around their home when we’re talking about termites. Secondly homeowners want to know that a termiticide is introduced as soon as termites are found, yet this will depend on the inspection schedule of the technician. Thirdly, who wants technicians mixing up messy chemicals around their home when termites have been found? Homeowners simply want to know the termites are dead. The key benefit of monitoring systems, however, is their safety: to pest managers, their customers and the environment.

Sentricon AlwaysActive is unique in that it has all of the benefits of both systems without the drawbacks. It is active from the moment of installation, like a liquid chemical treatment, and has the safety of a monitoring system. Yes, a termiticide is present from day one, but this is within a dense matrix rod, so there is no exposure to the pest manager during installation (particularly if using the ready to install unit), nor to the homeowner, or the environment.

Sentricon AlwaysActive is often found to be the most suitable product for use in sensitive locations such as heritage buildings (where custodians cannot allow contact with chemicals), steep slopes (where other systems cannot be employed), close to waterways (where leaching with liquid chemicals can be an issue) and so on.

It is the only termiticide to be awarded with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award due to its safety profile and use of environmentally responsible chemistry. Given these benefits, Sentricon should be considered for every post-construction termite job in Australia.

[1] Ghaly, A., and Edwards, S. (2011). ‘Termite Damage to Buildings: Nature of Attacks and Preventive Construction Methods’. American Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 4, 187-200, 2011.

[2] Su, N-Y. (2005). ‘Response of the Formosan Subterranean Termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) to Baits or Non-repellent Termiticides in Extended Foraging Arenas’. Journal of Economic Entomology 98: 2143-2152, 2005.

Joanne George, Pest Management Business Manager, Dow AgroSciences