We get asked all the time by homeowners "What are the round plastic things around my home". They are often referred to as termite traps. What they really are is termite bait stations. Before I go into the pros and cons of termite bait stations, there is something very important you should know about the termite bait stations you may currently have around your home right now. If these stations have not been serviced by the company who installed them in the past 6 months or so, they are not doing anything what so ever to protect your home from termites. The termite bait stations themselves usually contain no termite bait at all until active termites are found in the wood or cellulose monitoring material. They should be inspected and serviced every 3 to 4 months by a licensed Pest Control company. Once termite activity is found Termite bait is then placed and that is how termite bait stations control termites. So if you have some termite bait stations around your house that have not been monitored in over a year you might as well just throw them away.
So here is a brief run down on some of the Pros and Cons of Termite Baits stations.
- Termite Bait stations are probably the most enviromentally friendly method of termite control available today. The active ingredients are typically only used when activity in present in a station and then is administered to the target insect (termites) in the most direct way possible. Other methods such as liquid treatments often times require hundreds of gallons of termiticides to applied around the structure.
- Termite Baiting is an effective way to treat structures that may not be treatable with a liquid termiticide such as structures with a well under the house.
- When maintained properly a termite bait system is a long term approach to termite protection. Proper maintenance and monitoring will allow the system to protect a home for many years, without the need for a retreatment.
- Termites must find the stations before they can be controlled by termite baits. Despite the name "termite bait stations", termites are not "drawn" to the station by an attractant of some kind. The stations are simply strategically placed around the structure to intercept foraging termite colonies.
- In my opinion the biggest con to termite baiting is the fact that they are allowed to be used for termite pre-treats. A termite pre-treat is a treatment performed on a home as or immediately after it is built to protect it from termites. Many people decide not keep up their termite contracts after the first year of living in their new home. So, if the home was pre treated with Termite Bait stations it will have no protection what so ever after that first year. If the same home was pre treated with a termiticide the protection would continue to be there for 5 to 10 years if the treatment was performed correctly.
- Another problem a homeowner may have with Termite Bait Stations is the cost of the contract. Bait Stations need to be monitored 3 to 4 times per year, which is why Termite contracts for homes with Bait Stations are usually 3 to 4 times more expensive per year than traditional Termite contracts.
So what does all this mean? Well, in my opinion Termite Bait stations are a great alternative treatment for homeowners who do not want to use a liquid treatment to protect their home from termites. When properly monitored and maintained they are very effective at controlling termites. However if not properly monitored they are completely useless and may give homeowners a false sense of security. If you have a Termite contract in which bait stations are used you still need to have the home inspected once a year. The company monitoring the stations should be aware of this but if you suspect they haven't taken a look at your crawl space in over a year you should remind them of this requirement.