Before termites in structures can be treated, the extent of the infestation must be assessed. Visual searching and probing of wood are the dominant means of inspection. However, the efficacy of visual searches is questionable, because structures have inaccessible areas. Several nonvisual detection methods are used, including electronic stethoscopes, dogs, methane gas detectors, and microwave and acoustic emission devices, but each of these technologies has some limitations. For subterranean termites, wood-baited monitoring stations can identify the presence and delimit the extent of colonies. Some species of subterranean termite have colonies as large as several million individuals, and these forage over an area of more than 10,000 m2. Other termite species have much smaller colonies and forage within areas of only a few square meters. There is considerable debate about the methods and accuracy in reporting termite numbers and foraging behavior.
Termite control is most regulated in North America, Europe, and Australia. However, in many countries controlling termites is achieved by the hand removal of queens and nests, flooding nests, or drenching them with used motor oil. Soil drenches with liquid termiticides injected into the soil beneath structures to protect foundations and structural wood is the dominant control tactic for subterranean termites for several continents. Chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides, such as chlordane, have been used extensively for subterranean termite control because of their long persistence, >30 years in the soil. Because of persistence and suspicions of health-related problems, chlordane has been removed from many markets. Chloronicotinyls and phenyl pyrazoles are new compounds marketed for termite control. The use of toxic baits (e.g., containing chitin and metabolic inhibitors) and physical barriers (sand and stainless steel mesh) for controlling subterranean termites are also gaining acceptance. Techniques to prevent infestations of subterranean termites include using wood pressure-treated with oil and water-soluble chemicals.
Surveys of pest control firms in the United States reveal that poor building practices, particularly wood in contact with soil and cracks in concrete foundations, lead to many of the subterranean termite infestations. Experimental efforts have been made to control soil-dwelling termites using biological control agents, such as argentine ants and nematodes. However, these methods have not yet been proven effective.
Dry-wood termite colonies are usually above soil level in structures, small, and difficult to detect. Treatments include whole-structure applications of fumigants (such as sulfuryl fluoride and methyl bromide) and heat. Chemicals, heat, freezing, microwaves, and electricity are used for localized or spot treatments of dry-wood termites.
See Also the Following Articles
Blattodea • Caste • Sociality • Urban Habitats
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