Are Subterranean Termites Able To Access Structural Wood In Homes By Exploiting Gaps In Termiticide Barriers?

Termites are widely understood to be economically damaging insect pests of structural wood within homes. While several termite species are well known for damaging woodwork, there exists at least 3,000 termite species in the world, the vast majority of which are not considered pests. Each termite species belongs to one of three groups known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. Subterranean termites are responsible for around 80 percent of all structural wood damage reported in the US each year, and drywood termite pests only inhabit the southern states, including four destructive species in Louisiana. Dampwood termites rarely inflict serious damage to structures, and they are generally considered economically insignificant as structural pests.

Unlike drywood and dampwood termites, subterranean termites dwell below the ground-surface where colony workers tunnel through soil in order to gather food sources for their nestmates. When foraging workers encounter homes, they often build vertical mud tubes along foundations in order to access above ground structural wood located behind narrow cracks in cement or masonry. In order to prevent subterranean termites from foraging into the soil on properties, pest control professionals often apply a minimal amount of termiticide below the ground surface around the perimeter of homes.

While several bait systems work well to control termite pests around structures, termiticide treatments are more frequently applied around residential properties. There are two types of termiticides, repellent and non-repellent, and the latter kills subterranean termites, while the former only repels the pests. Each of these termiticide types are useful for specific purposes, and only licensed pest control professionals can determine which of the two is most suitable for a particular property.

All repellent termiticides contain pyrethroid compounds, which are highly toxic to termites, but harmless to humans. Obviously, since pyrethroids are repellents, subterranean termite workers are able to recognize and avoid these compounds on contact. Therefore, workers can recognize and exploit gaps in repellent perimeter treatments. However, repellent termiticide is applied uniformly within a trench excavated around the perimeter of properties, allowing gaps to be easily avoided during application. Naturally, since subterranean termite workers cannot recognize non-repellent termiticide, they cannot exploit gaps in non-repellent perimeter treatments. Generally, non-repellents are more suitable for large scale application, but once again, the ideal treatment for a particular property can only be determined by a licensed pest control professional.

Do you know which, if any, perimeter termiticide treatment has been applied around your property?

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