Termite Baiting: Our Tried & Tested Colony Elimination Process

Termite Baiting: Our Tried & Tested Colony Elimination Process

Termite Baiting: Our Tried & Tested Colony Elimination Process
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Termite baiting is challenging work and some pest controllers aren’t up to the task. This is because termite baiting requires patience and delicacy. We’ve developed our own baiting process over the years and are proud of our success rate in eliminating “white ant” colonies with termite baiting.

Excellent termite feeding in Albury NSW
Getting termites to this point is challenging work and needs a lot of patience.

Our team services Albury, Wodonga, Rutherglen, Beechworth, and Corowa… just to name a few, plus the surrounding areas. Coptotermes acinaciformis and Coptotermes frenchi are the most prevalent termite species in our local area that attack buildings. But thankfully, they respond well to termite baiting.

Disclaimer: Seek Professional Advice When it Comes to Termite Baiting

This article does not offer professional advice for homeowners seeking to perform termite baiting themselves. It explains how our baiting process works, we consider it a supplemental tool for our treatment proposals.

You should not attempt to control termites in your home yourself. Termites are complicated social insects and are adept at circumventing conventional treatments. Consult a termite specialist if you believe you have active termites in your home. We accept no responsibility for unlicensed operators using this article as a guide to termite baiting.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s have a look at what to expect if you engage our company to bait a termite colony attacking your house.

Why do we Prefer This Method of Treating Active Termites?

Other Methods Can’t Guarantee You Kill the Whole Colony

Traditional methods of termite control (spraying, dusting, foaming, etc.) do not kill colonies. Manufacturers will try to sell you on the ‘transfer effect‘ of their chemicals and claim that it spreads through the entire colony.

But, there is no guarantee that any termite spray can make its way back to the nest and kill the whole colony. For instance, most termites die before they make it to the nest. Then, other termites in the colony will avoid the area with the dead termites and find another way into your home.

Termite Baiting Uses a Unique Mode of Action

Unlike traditional methods, Termite baiting does not rely on a nerve poison. The active ingredient used in baiting products stops the termites’ ability to grow an exoskeleton when they moult. So, this has many benefits to the treatment process:

  • There is a delayed effect between feeding and dying because the bait does not affect the termites until they try to complete a moulting cycle.
    This means the termites do not die close to the food source (they normally die closer to the nest) and other termites will not associate the bait with the dead termites.
  • Within 20 days of bait uptake, all termite nymphs die and the queen is no longer able to lay viable eggs. This happens so quickly because eggs and nymphs (young termites) need to produce an exoskeleton to grow, which they do very frequently. It sterilises the colony from the very start. This is how we know we can guarantee colony elimination with baiting.
  • You can use this process to track the health of the colony. The presence of only mature termites in the termite bait boxes shows us when the colony is in decline.

Traditional methods of termite control can’t offer the certainty of baiting to eliminate termite colonies.

How Termite Baiting Works

1. It Begins with a Full Termite Inspection

A pest manager inspects a subfloor during a pest inspection in Lavington.

A full inspection for termites is the essential first step in the treatment process.

An inspection is key to locating the different termite entry points and can assist us to identify the termite species that we’re dealing with. Armed with this information, we can decide if termite baiting is the correct treatment option or if a different method is better.

Close-up photo of a Coptotermes acinaciformis soldier, found in Albury NSW
Coptotermes termites respond to termite baiting.
Microcerotermes termites do not respond very well to termite baiting
Microcerotermes termites do not respond as well to this type of treatment.

As an example, termite species in the Rhinotermitidae family respond to termite baiting very well. However, Nasutitermes and Microcerotermes genera do not respond as quickly to this treatment; so we may consider alternative treatment options.

Therefore, a termite inspection must be completed by us before treatment begins. Our termite inspection reports include details on where the termites were found, their species, and photos where applicable. An inspection report also includes ways to reduce the risk of termite attack in other ways, like reducing moisture and removing wood and timber from contact with the ground.

After an inspection, we can use the information to put together an accurate proposal and management plan.

2. Install the Baits and Feed the Termites

Newly installed termite bait box in Wodonga VIC
Typical installation of an Exterra box in Rutherglen, VIC.
Installed termite bait box in Rutherglen VIC
Exterra box installed in a wardrobe in Thurgoona NSW.

This is where the magic happens. To avoid disturbing the termites during the installation process, we install termite bait stations as delicately as possible.

To encourage termites into the station, we install the station directly in the area of activity. Then we make a hole in the back of the station and directly into the termite workings.

When we add the bait, we must warm the water. To do this we boil bottled water and mix it with the bait. Bottled water is a must to avoid contaminants that may repel the termites.

On occasion, we can’t install a proper station on a wall. For example, we often need to bait carpets and confined spaces. So in these cases, we use a bag station. The bags don’t look as glamorous as the boxes, but they get the job done just as effectively.

Bait bag placed on carpet in Albury NSW
Bag stations are placed on the corner of carpets where termites are travelling. Installed in Wodonga, VIC.

3. Monitor the Baits and Top Them up as Necessary

Termites have accepted this station with vigour in Albury NSW
This Exterra station installed in Albury, NSW is an example of excellent uptake. See the mud around the edges and soldiers rushing out to defend their food source.

One of our Pest Managers will return every two to four weeks to check the stations and top them up with bait as necessary. This is essential to ensure the termites don’t run out of food, so we can track them right to the end. Because they may forage elsewhere if their food source runs out.

White ants feeding on a bag in Corowa NSW
Termites have started to seal this bait bag with mud to protect their food source. This one was in Corowa NSW.

We know from recent research that termites do not need to feed on a lot of bait for the colony to reach full toxicity. However, we still return to feed them all the way until we see every sign of colony collapse.

4. Looking for the Signs of Colony Collapse

Every visit to check the stations, we make note of signs of ‘termite bait intoxication’. The signs normally happen one after the other in sequence:

  • We notice a colour change in the worker termites first. The colour change confirms that all of the nymphs and developing immature worker termites have died, and only mature workers are left. This is because they last longer as they do not moult as often as immature termites.
  • The second sign is a reduction in the ratio of workers to soldiers. The soldiers are not as affected by the termite baiting process as the workers, so more of the soldier termites are present than workers.
  • Feeding slows down dramatically after this point because there aren’t enough worker termites to do the work! Soldiers can’t feed themselves, so they can’t consume the bait. At this point, the bait also softens their mandibles so they can’t process timber properly. So they have stopped feeding on your house at this point and can only eat the nice soft bait.
  • At some point, we will only see soldiers in the stations. This shows that the colony is in a critical state. With no workers to feed them, the soldiers are starving. The bottom of their abdomen darkens at this point as they enter famine conditions.
  • The developing pre-alates may flee the nest once it collapses and then congregate in the bait stations. Pre-alates are new kings and queens that have not grown wings yet. The bait prevents them from growing wings and leaving the nest. They flee the nest because there are not enough workers to clear dead termites away, and decomposition gases begin to suffocate the remaining termites. We only see this sign occasionally.
Bait congregation - termite alates have fled the nest
Congregation of alates in a bait station. The alates have large, bulbous abdomens.

5. Removing the Baits

Once we see no active termites in the bait stations for two consecutive visits, we know that the colony has completely collapsed and cannot return. The remaining soldiers have either starved to death or died attempting to moult.

Dead soldier termites behind a removed box after termite baiting in Wodonga VIC
A ‘soldier graveyard’ behind a station. After removing this termite bait station, you can see that the last termites to die were the soldiers (orange heads). This one was in Albury NSW.

What Comes After Baiting?

Baiting termites is a method of colony control only. It is a highly effective way of eliminating a termite colony that is attacking your house. However, baiting does not protect you from neighbouring or future termite colonies.

That’s where termite prevention comes in. There are different options for different types of houses. Your termite specialist will include their recommended method of termite prevention in their Treatment Proposal.

Only after the preventative option has been installed will we produce a full Certificate of Treatment.

If you have any questions about our termite baiting process, please don’t hesitate to call us on 02 6032 7137 or message us directly.

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