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Jim has a run-in with Terminex and Orkin

I thank you and curse you at the same time!

After having Orkin and Terminix come in and give me their scare tactics combined with convincing explanations and data, I thought I was ready to go with Orkin, who would apply Borate and another termiticide to a few areas, along with baiting.  (Because of a crawlspace and an inaccessible dirt-covered foundation under part of the house, they each claimed that traditional efforts wouldn't work...)  Well, now I'm confused again.  But I suppose that's OK, because education can do that to you sometimes, can't it?

Anyway, after reading a large portion of your website--wow, what a LOT of information!--I don't know WHAT to do...  I sure wish you were located in North Jersey!   Which I guess brings me to my question: Do you suggest any "good guys" up here?

Thanks for all the information, anyway.  It's a GREAT site - thanks also to Google -- but I guess I'll do what you've suggested and not panic, feeling the need to do something TODAY...

-Jim N.

(Jim actually sent in two messages, the second just after the first.)

And I wrote back, answered both his messages with this....

Hi, Jim:

Got both your notes - I'll answer with this one.  

I guess if you were at my website, you've guessed that I don't have much confidence in the baiting schemes.  Up here, in the northeast, they will work very slowly.  And, (they don't tell you this) if for some reason you don't pay every nickle they demand, they pull up their bait stations and you're left with ZERO protection. Whereas, with soil treatment, the treatment is THERE - even if you forget to pay or they go out of business, or up your renewal rate too high.  Of course I know that Orkin and Terminex won't go out of business, (probably) but those guys can be sharks, and whatever you want, you'll likely pay dearly for.

My opinion of borates (for real termite control) is maybe a bit less than I have for the bait procedures.  While borates are toxic to insects, termites, in particular, are able to "tube over" borate treated wood even shortly after application, if they want to.  I consider the borates kind of like those "value-added" things they try to foist on you when you buy a car - undercoating, wax jobs, pinstriping, etc.  Mostly worthless stuff you don't need anyway.  I feel much the same about all of the borates - no matter WHAT they say.

And, I guess, there are SOME houses that you might not be able to treat conventionally - but I haven't seen a whole lot of them.  Usually salesmen will pick some kind of construction anomaly they discover and use it as a reason to perform some kind of extra service gimmick.

The reason it's so confusing is because this is an expertise - not an exact science - so every exterminator can have his own way of doing things.  The BEST way, of course, is to do it as cheaply and efficiently as you can - at least in my mind.  But the simple fact that most homeowners know next to nothing about bugs or termites, the exterminators can easily use this to their advantage, if they want to.

Do it today?  Nooooooo.  And maybe not even next week or even next month, if you don't want to.  That amount of time means nothing to the termites or their damage - no matter what they say.  Termites work very slowly, and you'll do better by taking careful aim before you shoot the gun.  And since exterminators usually guarantee their jobs for at least one year, (with renewals after that) you might be better to have your termite work done so that the 1 year guarantee covers you THROUGH the next swarming season.  Not only that, but termiticides will work better when you don't have spring rains to contend with.   Panic has no place nor reason here.

If you had Terminex and Orkin, you had salesmen - and we all know what they mean.  Usually, you're better off getting referrals for this - pick a smaller guy, one without salesmen, that has a good reputation.  Be sure to check your choice with the BBB.  You can tell the exterminators you contact, that you don't want anyone proposing the bait methods, that you'll be asking for a conventional treatment - period. That, by the way, will clue them into the fact that you're no babe in the woods.  And tell the ones that DO show up, that you'll be taking your time to make your decision. If they try to scare you, throw them out, cross them off the list.  I used to tell people to get a referral from a trusted, long established realtor.  But realtors can be buffaloed too, I have found.  A REALLY good realtor usually knows what's up.

Unfortunately, I don't have a specific name for you to contact, that I really feel good about.  Where in north Jersey are you?

And north Jersey?  I do get to some parts of north Jersey, just not on a regular basis, so I can't provide regular pest control services up there.  I have, however, done some termite work as far away as Long Island, in special circumstances. Probably the only places I don't get to are in the northwestern parts of New Jersey.


>Oh, yes, two things:
>What about the studies that have shown that half of the various
>applied chemicals will dissipate within one year's time, leaving the
>house barrier more or less unprotected?

and my reply....

Oh, THOSE studies.....  Well, studies are like statistics - they have the abilty to cloud mens' minds - very clearly.  Truth is, each case (house or structure) is so individual as to make most "studies" worthless, or at best, only a rough guideline. Even two houses, built exactly alike, can have different problems (and methods to treat) even though they're next door to each other.  So these studies, although interesting, are something to be refined in actual practice.  Besides, I think those studies were probably underwritten by the bait proponents.....  And there are at least TWO different chemical companies, (and more to follow) that are actually willing to guarantee that their termiticide will last at least 5 years, and will pay the exterminator for his labor and chemicals if the barrier fails in that 5 year time period.  (There are some caveats: the exterminator has to apply for this guarantee at the time of the treatment, it has to be a complete job, (not a call-back) and a couple of others things I forget.)  My own personal experience says that most of the soil poisonings lasts some 5 to 8 years, in some cases, and in some places, even longer.  Most of the guys get that much around here.  Don't forget, even after 5-8 years there are some places (of your house) that will have and keep it's protection much longer than the 5-8 years - dirt fills, under slabs, etc - and probably all you'll need in future years is spot treatment to a possible suspected or active area.

Jim's second question....

>   If there already is a swarm located inside the house (say, somewhere
>between a wall between a garage and basement), how is a barrier >effective against that?

and my reply....

Termiticide is injected below the house, in the ground, where the termites are.  This is what forms the "barrier" - although I consider that an inexact term.  It's never a true barrier unless it's treated BEFORE the slab is poured.  That more closely approaches a "barrier."  Conventional treatments to existing structures are actually "spot treatments" - you could drill and treat a thousand holes, but you're still treating in individual "spots."  And this is where experience comes in - knowing (or having an idea) of where the termites are coming from, and making sure they have no access. Sometimes difficult even for experience to solve - sometimes it just boils down to "trial and error."

And lastly, my thanks for your kind compliments - and curses - which I take also as a compliment.

Nice to hear from you.  Get back to me if you have more questions!


Jim wrote back to tell us that he's going to check further....

Thanks, John, for the detailed answer!  I'm having a couple more (smaller, owner-operated) inspectors come in to inspect the house next week, though my guess is the only way I'll decide on one is if the person seems to say the things I want to hear (though I'm not sure I know what that is, yet!).  As for "inspections," it seems to me they're really just surveys, because I've looked at my basement as closely as the two salespeople did...  Oh, by the way, I'm in Clifton...

So, anyway, you and your company are a tribute to honesty, integrity, and what the web should be!  Thankyou thankyou thankyou for sharing your knowledge openly (and even listing your competitors on your page!).

May every last inch of Central Jersey's soil gets termite-treated by you!


Jim N.

This is my final answer....

Jim, I've even had people tell me an inspector never went into a crawl space, or worse, refused to.   'Course, that's not a salesman's job.....

Sometimes the smaller ones are too hungry to think straight, but if you get good referrals and recommendations, you should be okay.  My impression of most independent north Jersey exterminators is that they are generally good guys, but there's always a sprinkling of sometimes shady characters.  Probably just as many down here too.  It's a jungle out there, but with a little common sense and no panic, most people can figure it out.


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