Challenges in Termite Interdiction
Finding the safest, most efficient way to interdict subterranean termite colonies
Summary: Termite control is a multi-pronged operation. The object is to use the safest, most efficient methods, as part of a long-term strategy to protect the site from all major threats, including wood rot and infestations caused by insects and other organisms. IRIM i3 methods interdict termite activity in manufactured structures, then intercept termites in the soil around such objects, and inoculate intercepted termites with control agents capable of nullifying, then eliminating, the termite colony's ability to infest and damage manufactured structures and botanicals such as living trees and shrubs. The first step, interdiction (the first i in i3), begins by removing or reducing the risk of termite infestation in every manufactured structure at the site, followed by treating uncorrectable risks with least-toxic and non-toxic interdiction agents. Scroll down to read full text of of article. Next... Home...
The Cost of Blissful Ignorance
If termites find something they like to eat, even it it is a stud holding up a wall, they can be trusted to eat it. Since they hide their work, we may not realize they are chowing down on our homes until serious damage has already been done.
This feature of termite behavior explains why termite specialists must assume that termites are present even when no outward signs of their activity exist, and then search for evidence of past or present termite activity. Walls must be palpated by hand, for example, to feel for tell-tale tracks under paint or wallpaper where termites may have excavated the cardboard facing. Such tracks, though often invisible to the eye, are quickly located by the fingers of a trained inspector.
But identifying the fact that termites are, or once were, active in a structure isn't enough. To protect a home from termites, preventative interdictions must be performed wherever the risk of termite activity exists. This must be done even if no outward signs of present or past termites are found.
Most man-made structures contain numerous places at risk of termite activity.
IRIM i3 Meets these Challenges Head-On
Once termites get into a building, their damage should be stopped before it becomes a serious threat. The focus is on everything in or on the structure that is subject to infestation by termites, such as:
1. Wooden structural elements, e.g., wood studs, trusses, joists, and the like.
2. Cellulose coated structural elements such as cardboard-faced wallboard.
Termite interdiction is the act of denying termites access to these elements. The interdiction process involves treating the structure with termiticidal agents that repel or kill termites that attempt to eat it. IRIM™ requires that least-toxic or non-toxic products be used for termite interdiction if they are available. In the process of twenty years of searching for such products, and testing them thoroughly, we've found several in the least-toxic category, and some that are non-toxic.
Laboratory and field testing of these materials have shown that, when each is used alone, termites sometimes breech the treated area. In many cases, the termites involved in the test had no other sources of food, but had to choose either to breech the treated surface or starve. Despite the fact that such testing is not comparable to ordinary field conditions, the negative results produced by some of these tests support erring on the side of caution. One way to do that is to require that two or more kinds of least-toxic or non-toxic termiticidal agents be used in tandem at every interdiction node. On-going testing in the field is underway to select the optimal combination of such agents.
Finding & Fixing Correctable Termite Risks
Thorough interdiction processes, along with installing, inspecting, and servicing termite interceptors, cannot do the whole job The processes of termite interception and inoculation take time, and termites that are, or may possibly be, feeding inside a structure need to be stopped in their tracks, immediately.
Every structure being monitored for termite activity in its perimeter soil must be inspected for correctable conditions, in the structure itself, that tend to lead to termite problems. Water leaks in walls or roofs, and soil contacting wood or masonry on the outside of the structure, are examples of correctable conditions that lead to termite infestations. Once those conditions are identified, getting them fixed is as important a part of the termite solution as anything else.
One reason why this is so is that termites are not the only organisms that cause structural damage in such locations. Microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria also damage and decompose wood and cellulose-containing materials, and the damage they cause often rivals that of termites. The object isn't simply to nullify the abilities of termite colonies to infest and damage structures and botanicals, but to identify and remove every cause of such damage.
Another reason why these areas must be corrected is that they may already be under attack by termites without any outward evidence that termites are present. If the termite colony is small (as often occurs with newly formed colonies), it may not be connected with any of the other termite colonies nearby, and the presence of numerous sources of moist cellulose inside the structure encourages the termite colony to concentrate its foraging there, without extending its domain to the soil around the structure.
Nullifying or eliminating all the termite colonies in the soil around a home won't affect limited termite colonies restricted to the interior of a structure, no matter what kind of termite bait or termiticide is used. A well-executed termite interdiction program inside the structure, however, will not only correct problems leading to fungal and bacterial decomposition of structural members, but will stop termite activity as well.
Mitigating Uncorrectable Termite Risks
Many structures also have conditions known to attract termite infestations that cannot be corrected mechanically. Plumbing penetrations in the foundation, cold joints between adjacent foundation pours, and bath traps and shower pans on the ground floor of a home, are common conditions that increase the risk of termite infestation. These are merely artifacts of the construction trade (though improved architectural and construction practices can mitigate and eliminate some or most of them). While they add to the risk of termite infestation, they cannot be corrected directly.
Such termite risks in a structure can be dealt with indirectly in a way that, for all practical purposes, removes the risk of future termite damage. For example, all sections of wood adjacent to that condition can be treated with long-lasting least-toxic or non-toxic termiticides. Other termite risks should also be treated with the same products, once they are corrected, to insure interdiction of termites that may be present, but are not evident.
Avoiding the use of Toxic Chemicals
In the past, most termiticides were poisonous to humans and their pets. Today, though a wide range of toxic termiticides are marketed, specialists and home owners are able to treat the full range of termite risks in a structure with non-toxic, or minimally toxic termite-killing products that last as long and are as effective as any exotic toxicant termiticide on the market. Done properly, such treatments will stop termites from feeding in the structure if they are already there, and will also prevent new termites from entering the structure later.
Under ideal conditions, treatments using non-toxic and least-toxic termiticides should not place a family or its pets at risk of either short-term or long-term toxicant injury, either from the treated wood after the treatment has been performed, or from accidental exposure to the termiticide while it is being applied. Used in conjunction with such measures, termite interceptors are capable of providing a full-circle of termite prevention and treatment.
Termite interception, the second i in i3, proceeds with the placement of termite interceptors around homes or businesses that have been treated with termite interdiction products. The decision on where to place them is based on conditions observed at the site, including evidence of present or past termite activity. If termites are already present, the termites will soon incorporate the interceptors into their active food channel as soon as they find them. Large, active termite colonies will find them right away. Smaller or less active termite colonies may take longer.
Termite inoculation, the third i in i3, doesn't require placing toxicants into the soil, or feeding the termites a bait that is toxic to humans or our pets. In fact, it doesn't have to involve toxicants at all. The EntomoBiotic Termite Interceptor & Inoculator (TIAI) uses non-toxic bait material to attract termites to the interceptor, whereupon a non-toxic or least-toxic biological inoculum is used to nullify and eventually eliminate their colonies.
Termite Inoculation with Biological Agents
Older, conventional soil-treatment methods for termite control inundate the soil around a foundation with chemicals to create--at least in theory--an unbroken barrier against termites. Newer toxic-bait methods place smaller quantities of chemical bait at points in the soil around homes and businesses. That same soil is where children and pets dig and play. If chemicals are used--even in small bait stations capable of falling apart, leaking, or breaking--anyone digging in that soil may be exposed to them accidentally.
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