How Does Termite Bait Work?

Using termite bait is one of the most effective pest control solutions to help eliminate termite colonies in your property. These baits are made of cellulose combined with other ingredients that are lethal to termites, such as poison. It’s usually a non-invasive way to treat termite infestations so that homeowners don’t have to worry about dealing with the pests anymore. 

So how does termite bait work to remove termites? Termite bait is usually placed inside termite bait stations, which are cylinder plastic containers with tiny slits that allow termites to enter and get some of the bait. Once worker termites find this bait, they share it with other members of the colony, resulting in a decline in their population. 

What Does Termite Bait Do to Termites?

Though there are different kinds of termite baits available in the market, all of them generally work the same way. A termite bait attracts a colony using a food source laced with poison. This eventually eliminates the colony because once worker termites start to die, the termite soldiers and their queen won’t have any food source. 

There are a variety of termite baits available on the market and knowing the differences among them can help you choose the best product for your termite situation. Some of the commonly used termite bait stations are the following: 

  • Sentricon: Sentricon is one of the most popular termite bait stations available on the market, and these are “always active” as long as they are installed properly. However, older versions of this system inspection require the removal of the piece of timber inside it, which can disrupt the termites' activity.  
  • Exterra: The timber or bait used in Exterra is in direct contact with the soil, making it easier for termites to find. It doesn’t require the removal of the actual bait, so termite activity isn’t disrupted during an inspection. Though Exterra can be used by itself, localized liquid treatments need to be done with its installation. 
  • Trelona Advance: Trelona uses an insect growth regulator called novaluron. The bait station is pre-baited with two levels - a cylinder of wood and a monitoring matrix.

How Termite Baits Work

It’s important to understand how termite bait works in order to kill a termite colony once it’s been installed underground. Here’s how termite baits remove termite colonies in your property: 

1) Installation

Termite bait stations are usually installed underground. The product is placed around the perimeter of the property, around 2-4 feet away from the home’s foundation and with fixed intervals in between other bait stations. This is to ensure that the termites go to the bait for food and decrease the chances of them infesting the structure. 

You also need to know where to place termite bait since you don’t usually see termites above the soil. You have to check the property for possible areas where termites might live and forage so you can strategically place the bait stations there. A tree stump is an example of those areas that termites can feed on. 

2) Process

After installation, the bait stations will start to work gradually in eliminating a termite colony. The eliminating process will rely on a bit of luck, so you have to wait a while before the product becomes effective. Remember that these products are designed to align with a termite’s natural activity, so bait stations don’t necessarily “attract” the pests. The process of baiting termites has three steps: 

  • Pre-baiting: Pre-baiting is the process wherein scout termites have established the bait station as a possible food source. For this to happen, the foragers tag the bait station with pheromones, which is a scent trail that worker termites follow so that they can get food. Establishing this scent trail since is a significant part of their feeding cycle and the baiting process. 
  • Introduction of toxic bait: Termites need to establish the bait as a food source before you place toxic bait or chemicals because they have to bring the bait back to their nests. When the termites have already done this, you can now introduce the toxic stuff in the process. The termites will continually feed on this poison until the feeding stops. 
  • Population reduction: The population of the termite colony will start to decline as they continue to feed on the poisoned bait 

3) Effectiveness

Termites are not active the entire year. These insects typically feed during warmer temperatures and they significantly reduce their activities when temperatures start to drop. Because of this, termite feeding on bait stations is also reduced and delayed until temperatures have stayed above a certain level. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you have to wait until spring or summer to install termite baits. You should install them before the temperature starts to rise so that the ingredients inside will have enough time to adapt to the surrounding area. This gives the termites a few months to find the bait stations underground and start feeding on them. 

Keep in mind that there's still a chance that insects can infest indoors even if you use a termite bait. Unlike other treatments such as liquid treatment, termite bait doesn’t create a barrier around a property. Once the termites look for food, they won’t necessarily prefer the bait found in the station. They can still go to wooden structures and feed on those. 

Additionally, termite bait stations are more effective in eliminating subterranean termites, since these termites live underground and travel through the soil. So this means that if you’re trying to eliminate drywood termites from your property, the baits can be less effective and you might need to look at other forms of treatment or prevention to control their population. 

What Is in a Termite Bait?

termite bait in the backyard

A termite bait has the following ingredients or products that attract and eliminate termite colonies: 

1) Cellulose

Termites are always looking for food sources that provide them with cellulose. Cellulose is a structural component of wood that provides these insects with the nutrients they need to survive. A termite feeds on anything that has cellulose, such as wood, paper, and cardboard. 

Some termite bait stations use strips of wood or cartridges that contain compressed cellulose materials. This helps establish the product as a possible food source for their colony. Without cellulose, termites will not go to the bait station. 

2) Insecticide

Termite bait also contains some insecticides to help control the termite population. This ingredient helps poison worker termites when they share the bait  with other members of the colony. A common chemical used in termite bait stations is a chitin inhibitor, which prevents them from molting or shedding their outer body covering. 

Molting is a significant process of this insect’s life cycle, where they shed their exoskeleton in order to grow and allow them to mature. Since it can only affect immature termites, worker termites must be the ones first affected by this chemical so that they don’t molt, eventually die, and don’t provide the colony with food. 

3) Other Active Ingredients 

Aside from cellulose and insecticides, termite bait also contains other active ingredients that work to attract and eliminate these pests. The active ingredients found in termite bait vary in their effects, so you need to learn about them to know which kind of active ingredients to look for in termite bait stations. Some examples of active ingredients in termite bait stations include hexaflumuron and novaluron.

How to Make Termite Bait More Effective

If you’re having problems with the effectiveness of your termite bait station, you may try the following tips:

1) Using Correct Bait and Active Ingredients

The ingredients in baits have varying effects and you should know which ones to use in your particular termite situation. You may opt to use a slow active ingredient rather than a fast-acting one so that dead termites don’t accumulate in a specific area. When there are a bunch of dead termites in a place, the insects might avoid that area and your bait station will become ineffective. 

Additionally, a pest control professional may initially use a less active ingredient to attract the insects. Once termites are attracted to the bait, a professional will switch out the less active ingredient to a more powerful one. 

2) Regular Maintenance

It’s not enough to install termite bait stations and think that it will magically eliminate all the termites on your property. Regular maintenance once a year is needed so that the bait stays efficient in controlling the termite population. You have to clean out the bait station every 12 months and replace the wood or cellulose inside it. 

If you live in an area where it rains a lot, more maintenance may be needed. And since the bait has to be replaced eventually with a more powerful one to ensure efficacy, you definitely need to monitor its status regularly. 

3) Be Patient

Termite baiting is not a quick solution to termite infestations since the slow-acting poison needs time to become effective. And since termites reduce their activity during the fall and winter, you may have to wait for temperatures to rise before the process can work.  

Eliminate Termites With Pinnacle Pest Control

While termite bait is a popular and effective method, improper installation can make it inefficient and even lead to more serious problems. With professional pest control here at Pinnacle Pest Control, we guarantee that termite infestations are properly treated and eliminated. 

We use the best tools and techniques to eliminate different kinds of pests and help make your home safer for you and your family. Our team is here to assist you and answer any questions you have about our service. To know more about Pinnacle Pest Control, you may visit our website or give us a call today. 

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