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When choosing bait for a termite treatment, the time it takes to achieve colony elimination is one of the most important factors for pest managers to consider. 

Homeowners unsurprisingly want termites gone from their property ­– fast! With the wide range of product options available for eliminating termites from structures – including liquids, foams and dust – why should baiting be your preferred choice, especially when baiting is often perceived as the slowest option?

It’s important to remember that your first obligation as a termite professional in dealing with a termite infestation is to attempt to eliminate the colony (as per Australian Standards). If the colony cannot be located, indirect control methods, such as termite baiting, need to be utilised.

Termite baiting remains the most reliable method for colony elimination for the key termite species (excluding Mastotermes). Numerous trials with a variety of bait products and years of feedback from professionals around the world demonstrate the success of baiting in colony elimination.

This success is a result of the mode of action of baits ­­– termites actively take the bait back to the nest, where it is shared with the rest of the colony. Whether the nest is next to the house or 100m away, the bait gets back to the colony. Other methods such as dusts and foam rely on passive transfer between foragers; the active may or may not get back to the colony, especially when the nest is a distance away from the building.

Why is it important for the homeowner and you, as the termite professional, to target nest elimination?

Elimination of the colony will significantly reduce the pressure on any subsequent termite management system installed around the perimeter of the building. If the homeowner does not want a termite management system installed, baiting for colony elimination is simply a must.

Of course, the reason you are using an indirect treatment is that the nest cannot be located. What if the colony is under the house? The use of dusts or foam to ‘eliminate’ active termites from the structure may not actually eliminate the colony. Removing active termites from the damaged area and then installing a liquid perimeter treatment could still leave the nest under the home ready to cause more damage. Again, baiting removes this concern.

These attributes should make baits an easy sell to homeowners, but the slow speed of action is often cited as a concern.

Fortunately, the latest baiting systems, such as Xterm from Sumitomo Chemical, can deliver control of Coptotermes colonies in as little as four weeks (Evans 2010, Journal of Economic Entomology), with Dr Theo Evans commenting, “Colony elimination was achieved in around half or less the time, and with less bait toxicant, than other products tested under similar field conditions.” This speed of performance has been apportioned to the inclusion of the unique IGR, bistrifluron, at a higher concentration that the IGRs in other baits.

Colony control can often be achieved with less than one Xterm cartridge

Being a concentrated bait formulation also means that in many situations, only a single canister (less than 60g) is required for colony elimination. Certainly, when homeowners may have concerns about termites continuing to feed during the baiting process, it is easier to put their minds at rest if you don’t have to keep replenishing the stations with large amounts of bait material on repeated visits, as is often the case with other baiting systems.

Not all baiting systems are the same: they vary in matrix and active. So if you have ‘the need for speed’, Xterm may be worth a closer look.

Of course using baits takes some skill and experience. But experienced termite professionals know it’s worth the effort. The performance benefits of baiting, plus the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise as a termite professional to your customers, can work together to help you build lasting customer relationships and a strong business.

Charles McClintock, Professional Products Business Manager, Sumitomo Chemical Australia