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Perhaps you have been approached by a termite control salesman working with a company that has proposed using termite control baits on your property. They may be using this control method exclusively, or they may use it to augment their standard chemical treatment.  The question is, do you need to spend the additional amount of money for this kind of treatment?

A division of Dow Chemical first came out with their termite baits, (Sentricon) but there are several others now, some with different active ingredients, some have the same, more or less.  Some are growth regulators and some are respiratory inhibitors.  The actual sequence is simple, consisting of bait stations implanted into the ground and monitored for termite activity.  Once activity is detected, the plain wooden (or paper) inserts are switched with ones impregnated with an active ingredient.

There are several variations of this theme, especially with the newer baits, but they all work on a "monitoring" system.  That is, the pest control operator has a technician come around to check each monitor on a regular basis.  "Regular" depends on the system, the operator and what section of the country you live in.

To start his program, the pest control operator makes a survey of your property, searching for any obvious areas that may harbor termite activity.  These areas are where he will implant these baiting devices into the ground, sometimes in groups of several, noting their locations carefully, as each must be monitored closely - as often as once per month.

One thing to remember with most of the baiting programs, they DON'T include an inside inspection.  An inside inspection is EXTREMELY important, it tends to catch termites before they get a head start eating your house.  And just because you have those expensive plastic devices stationed around your house doesn't mean that you won't have an inside termite problem....  So if you're considering using any of the baiting plans, be sure to specify that you want yearly inside inspections.  (We tell our renewal customers to call in for an inspection when you get the invoice.)

Usually the salesman ushers you around your property, showing you areas where termites are known to be.  He will turn over rocks, search in your garden, and look by your woodpile, in the hopes of finding signs of termites.  

Assuming you spring for the deal, he inserts these devices into the areas where he has found termites.  The methodology being that since termites are already in the area, they will also find the bait in the termite station.  (Okay, so far....)

Find them, he will, since termites can actually be found in all of these areas almost all the time, and by the time this salesman has finished walking you around the property, you can easily feel that your whole property is infested with termites and if you don't act soon, you will be in big trouble.  (Uh-oh....)

This is where the 'questionable' part comes in.  Right at this point is where the pest control operator can inject his influence to help you make your decision.  A salesman, of course, will try to talk you into paying for this procedure.  An ethical exterminator will tell you the truth - which means that any straight thinking person probably wouldn't go for it.

Few people are really in "big trouble," except for maybe being exposed to the salesman.

The Whole Truth

It is environmentally friendly.  That's just about the only good news.  The bad news is that you are going to pay through the nose.

You'll probably need it. It is VERY expensive. Sometimes twice the cost of standard treatments, and there is also a monthly monitoring cost to figure in, as much as $40.00 per month. On top of that, it is a slow control method and not proven or tested in this area. Since most of the tests performed on these products have been done in the deep south, the same results cannot be expected in the northeastern United States. Makes me think that, perhaps, they know this, and don't want to risk "iffy" results from a true scientific test in the northeastern United States.  At the moment, the manufacturers are using hearsay and testimonials to further their cause. Hearsay and testimonials do not belong in a scientific study.

Successful baiting is also dependent on the termites finding the bait, (they are NOT attracted to it) so any kind of control may be a long time coming, here in the north, anyway. Because of this one shortcoming, most exterminators using these methods will also recommend standard soil poisoning techniques in addition to using these baits.

Is there ever a time to use baiting systems? Of course, there is! When you can't use conventional methods, such as when there is a well too close to the structure. Or when some area is just inaccessible. Or perhaps the customer requests it, for whatever their reasons. There are now many different baiting systems on the market, all the good ones are best installed by the exterminator. Regardless of how easy it looks to install baiting systems, there is an expertise to it.

What I don't like is that all other termiticides are required to provide five years of effectiveness data from the USDA Forest Service field testing sites.  Termite baits are exempted from these tests.  The reason given so far is that there are no protocols in place for testing termite baits, so the EPA is presently trying to work this out.

The point being, can you, in any way, prove that the baiting schemes are effective at all?  (I'll answer that.  Not without proper testing, they can't.)  Dazzle me with proper tests, like all the other termiticides go through, don't try the ol' slight of hand, dazzle-me-with-money deal.  Good exterminators don't fall for that, but the greedy ones always do.

Another added attraction is less obvious.  If you have a dispute with the exterminator, he goes out of business, or if you quit paying those regular monitoring fees, you are left with nothing.  Either he comes and pops out your bait stations, or you are left with worthless pieces of plastic implanted in the ground.  Any other exterminator you call is going to want to do the whole thing all over again.   Make a couple of mistakes picking exterminators or methods and you could be out several thousands of dollars.  Something else to consider.

One of these days, termite baiting might be a more secure and economical way to treat the subterranean termites of the northeast, but it will take a concerted effort by the manufacturers to fully certify their efficient use on our New Jersey termites. There are several tests now underway, with mixed results, so far.

Save your money.  Under present conditions, without suitable scientific test results, this appears to be just another method to extract more money from homeowners.  Released and marketed, it seems, in reaction to present "environmental" issues.

In our general experience, at the present, we feel that conventional soil treatment is far superior to present termite baiting systems.  We think Madison Avenue hype and mass hysteria is the main driving force with the bait systems - it certainly isn't efficacy testing. Me?  I'll trust the testing - maybe you want to put your faith into Madison Avenue.....

Newer alternatives for termite control are always attractive to the pest control industry, but since this industry, in the past, has been a haven for charlatans, homeowners must be on the lookout.  The charlatans are still there.  Now they come dressed in the guise of capitalists, and seek to line their pockets by performing time-consuming and dubious treatments, using scare tactics and omissions of fact.  (Remember: A quack doesn't have to be a doctor.)

Some pest control salesmen have been telling homeowners with previous soil treatments that they cannot use standard treatments because of "accumulated toxicity" or they stress that the new baiting techniques are "non-toxic" and environmentally friendly.  These issues are non-issues.  If there were a danger of  "accumulated toxicity" there would likely be no termite problem, and there is no such thing as a non-toxic insecticide.  Unethical salesmen will tell you that only their company can provide these procedures.  These methods are available to any licensed exterminator.

Lately, many homeowners have been told by salesmen that soil treatment is "old hat" and will soon be banned.  This is simply not true.  And some salesmen are just not mentioning the fact that a cheaper (and proven) method exists, and just quote prices for baiting systems alone.  This is definitely not ethical.

These salesmen (and companies) just don't mention the fact that there is any other choice, and instead just push the bait systems to the exclusion of all the others, giving you but one door to choose from.  Shouldn't you, as an informed consumer, have access to all choices, with accurate information, so that you can make up your own mind?  I think so.

One of the reasons why it's hard to figure out the truth here, is because they mix fact with fiction.  Coupled with what they leave out, one of these unethical salesmen can make you believe just about anything.  After awhile they even believe it themselves and it becomes even more convincing!

There has been tremendous industry pressure to legitimize these baiting methods in the mind of the consumer, and in the toolbox of the exterminator.  Chemical companies are happy that they can finally supply a product that is incredibly cheap to manufacture, and can be marked up substantially when sold to the professional pest control operator.  Exterminators are then encouraged to sell these items at another considerable cost increase.  As an added bonus to the manufacturer, the product has been registered as a "consumer product," and this is why you see displays of these termite bait sticks in BJ's and Home Depot.

This labor-intensive, unproven procedure is then represented, (by salesmen) as the "only modern method of termite control."  Most exterminators in this area, when treating active termite infestations, will use the standard techniques, even if termite baits are used.

Let it be said here that standard techniques work just fine;  termite baiting is much less effective and should only be used where other conventional methods are impossible.


Wanna try our Termite Job Estimator?  Even though it's mostly designed for our own local service area, anyone can try it.

Aventis has produced a video that compares the baiting procedures and the treatment with Termidor.  This video is meant to have a humorous bent, and while I find it funny, I also find it to be true.   (This is VERY large, 109 megabytes, not recommended for those with standard modems.)

And why do we like Termidor?  I tell you right here.

University of Nebraska - Here are some good, reliable answers for your termite bait questions, including answers to other termite control methods.  (Frankly, I would trust their opinion before I would trust someone that makes money on this procedure)

The University of Kentucky does an excellent job of describing the many ins and outs of termite baiting.

The Environmental Protection Agency has quite an extensive website, and has a special section set up, just for pesticide issues.

If you have questions, we have our own Termite Message Board where you can browse through questions and answers on all subjects and pose a question yourself.  You don't need to "register" and your email address is not required.

Do we sell termite control supplies in our OnLine General Store? No we don't.  Nothing to control termites can easily be done by the public.  It is much easier, (and cheaper in the long run) to have a Pro do this procedure.

Even if you actually do it yourself, one of these days you're going to have to sell your house to someone else.  Any termite inspector will notice the work was not done professionally, and ask you for paperwork (gulp!)   He will definitely not take kindly to your efforts and will most likely recommend a proper professional treatment.

So the best thing for you to do is to get a trusted, reliable pro.  You can find the right guy either on our own famous Good Guys Page, or pick your Pro from the incomparable IPCO Network, otherwise known as "The International Pest Control Operator's Network."

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