Ask Angie: Using Bait Systems to Control Termites

Written by Angie Hicks
Updated April 25, 2012
Termites in home
In a presale inspection of a client's home in Yorba Linda, California, Mike Okamura of A Thorough Guy Home Inspection Services inspects the attic. The inspection includes looking for termite droppings. (Photo by Sara Cozolino)

Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List, answers a member question about using bait traps to eliminate termites.

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Dear Angie: Are bait systems a good solution for subterranean termites? I live in a house that’s partly slab and has some crawlspace. After it rains, I can see termites with wings. I have children with asthma and allergies, so I’m looking for the least invasive treatment method that won’t impact their health. – K.A. Los Angeles

Dear K.A.: This is the time of year that many pest control companies see the reproductive winged termites emerge. Though the “swarmers” are harmless themselves, their presence offers a strong indication that there is a colony near your home and likely feeding on your home’s wood. That’s an issue you’ll want to address quickly before major structural damage occurs.

There are certainly good reasons for trying a bait system to rid yourself of the subterranean termites. Bait systems are designed to eliminate an entire termite colony by strategically placing them in the soil around the perimeter of the home. They are an environmentally friendly way to eliminate termites because the active ingredients are contained within the bait system and aren’t accessible to children or pets. Liquid treatment methods, by contrast, are injected into the ground or into the structure, but only provide protection to areas that are treated and offer more exposure to the chemicals involved.

The challenge with using a baiting program is that the termites must find the bait to ensure effective control. So, the bait stations must be strategically placed to enhance the opportunity for the termites find them. Termites typically move in a random fashion to find food. Unfortunately, this means they can easily travel between two bait stations to get to a home.

If termites are already feeding on wood, treating them with both a liquid barrier and a bait station will likely offer the best results. Liquid treatments generally involve repellent termiticides – which are designed to deter termites from approaching the treated areas – or non-repellent termiticides. Many companies have turned to using the non-repellent treatment, which is undetectable by the termites and can easily be spread within a colony after termites come in contact with it. 

Because you likely have a termite issue with your visual confirmation, your best option is to have a licensed and reputable pest control company that specializes in termite remediation perform an inspection. Talk about your concerns with using chemicals in and around your home. A professional can discuss your different treatment options and devise a plan of action that will be suitable to you and still effective in treating the problem.

Angie’s List collects about 40,000 consumer reports each month covering more than 350 categories of home-related services. Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on Angie’s List to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question at askangie@angi.com

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