If anybody is interersted (and because right now, I take a hell of a lot more from this forum than I give, which right now is how it shoud be–zero deals as of yet) I can offer advice on any pest control issues you may have. I have been in pest control for the better part of 8 years. Understand that like real estate laws, PC laws vary state to state. My primary specialty is Wood destroying organisms-termites, carpenter ants, molds and fungi. Just throwing it out there.
I do have a question. I had an swarm of termites at one of my apartment buildings a couple of years ago. Instead of paying $700 to the exterminator, I decided to try putting out those termite stakes from Lowes for about $70. The little buttons popped up a couple of times and I replace the stakes per the instructions. We haven’t seen a swarm since and the little buttons aren’t popping up very often now (the buttons reportedly indicate the presence of termites). Do you think these termite spikes are an acceptable way to get rid of termites? If not, why?
I personally, think termite baiting is worthless. There are others (companies even) that swear by them. A little back history. Termite baiting came about as a knee-jerk response to a big swell in the anti-pesticide movement, mostly brought on by the now banned Dursban. I actually quit the industry in 2000 because, as a treater I didn’t want to sign my name to a work order that used nothing but baits for termites. I got back into PC in 2006, when I found out that Termidor (which is awesome, pricey, approx $250/gal, but AWESOME) was finally approved for commercial use. Baits are another TOOL but I would NOT rely on them for the only means of getting rid of termites and here’s why…
Termites are a social insect. Social insects, particularly blind ones, rely on pheremones for communication. What happens with your traditional bait stations is that when they are checked they get pulled out of the ground. When they get pulled, that pheremone trail gets broken. When that trail is broken, and the staion gets put back in the ground there is no guarantee that the trail will be re-established. If it isn’t then essentially the termites get jammed up at the end of their tunnel and possibly abandon that trail, due to them thinking it is a dead end. Then what happens is the innards of the station is replaced (which contributes even further to the probability of the trail not being re-established) then checked again in a month or two or three, depending on the guidelines/laws of your state and label directions if it is an active (poisoned) bait. Well it gets checked and there are no termites in it this time. And then it is checked again and , Yippee, no termites again. They must be gone, right? WRONG. You don’t know. I don’t know. The local entomologist doesn’t know. The fact is it is unknown whether the colony got eliminated or just abandoned that station. The other issue is that most of the DIY termite spikes I have seen use cardboard for their cellulose (what termites eat) material. Cardboard is so soft that the termites can breeze through it in a matter of a couple days if their are enough termites eating on it. Once that cellulose is gone, the termites will continue foraging and if that spike is replaced, again, there is no guarantee that contact will be re-established. And then there is no way of knowing how many termites were affected by the “domino” effect of the bait. (The workers feed the rest of the colony)
Now in your case, the baits could very well have worked. To be sure I would call your PC company and have an inspection done at least once a year. The company I work for which I won’t name, but will hint that it is THE largest PC company in the world, has a program where they will inspect every year for $279 (279 in MIchigan at least) after a fairly intensive initial inspection. After that if termites are found the property is treated at no additional cost. The same program also has a repair guarantee attached to it. But regardless of who you use I would have the property inspected every year. Paying $700, $1200, or even $2000 dollars for a treatment beats the hell out of paying $10-15K to have a wall replaced. Or to losing a vinyl record collection or a valuable first print book collection.
Well that was kind of long winded but I hope that helped. As a rule I tell my PC customers that their are only four pests they really need a PC company for: termites, ants, German roaches and rats. Everything thy could do themselves with confidence if they follow the directions on the pesticide.
Thanks for volunteering! I called my pest control company yesterday because the termite stations at a property all had grass, dirt, etc. on the covers. So I thought, “How could they even be checking them for termites?”.
I called my pest company and they said they are now checked electronically. Said they have been doing this for a few years. That they termites might move if they are disturbed. Have you heard of this?
Also, add to your list of “Must treat professionally pests”–Scorpions. They somehow get into the light fixtures from the attics, and can enter in any crevice. I have had people move out in the middle of the night because they were bitten in bed.
Here, too, is an insect I have never seen elsewhere: the Vinegaroon. It looks like a cross between a lobster and a scorpion. It emits a vinegar odor when disturbed. It is beneficial and feasts on cockroaches; but it does scare tenants when they spot one, it is HUGE, several inches long and has a big claw. They come out at dusk and dawn.
Oh, and don’t forget mice. Here mice are a major big deal because of Hanta Virus. Someone dies here every year from that, and I don’t want it to be my tenant, or ME. We use masks, spray cleaners, traps, and even cats to stop a mouse epidemic.
Yeah, being in Michigan there are some pests I forget-scorpions are one. Mice, can typically be controlled or better yet mostly prevented DIY. Mice are curious. Any pest that is inherently curious is relatively easy to control. Mice are kind of a judgement call. Threshold levels vary person to person and entity to entity.
How does your PC company check electronically. Are they taking off the caps and scanning a barcode? They explained the entire problem I have with baits. Don’t want to disturb them, so a) how do you know they are there (there ARE ways, just not foolproof) b) how do you know when they are gone. Check and see if your company uses a liquid called Termidor. Chemical is fipronil. (same thing as Frontline for Fleas for cats and dogs). I would see if your company will convert you over to Termidor if they do use it for their liquid treatments. Most companies are moving that way anyway. Termidor’s mode of action is similar to how baits are supposed to work. The beauty is termites only have to touch the Termidor, they do NOT have to ingest it. Your company may charge a nominal fee to convert you. It is worth it, if they do it right. State laws will also be an issue. www.termidor.com will give you a lot of info.
Back to your company and their baits…if they “do NOT have to take the caps off to check the stations”-get a new company, because their xray vision isn’t any better than yours.
WHAT, There are scorpions in MI.???
No, there are not scorpions in Michigan.
Great things come from exterminators. In case you didn’t know Tom Delay “The Hammer” was an exterminator. He went into politics when the EPA outlawed his favorite chemical Mirex so that he could fight runaway legislation of pesticides.
jay- I just bought a SFH and before I even got a chance to visit the house a neighbor called me to let me know that the garage has a large rats nest in it! I haven’t seen it yet so I can’t provide any more details but how would you recommend moving forward? How do we get rid of them?
Rats CAN be difficult to control. Alot is going to depend on the type of rat, if you are dealing with rats at all. Depending on where you live, it may be a red squirrel nest. Regardless, to know if there is anything active for sure you have a couple of options.
If you ave a pest control supply company in your town you may be able to find a NON-
TOXIC tracking powder. You can also use UNSCENTED talcum powder (which is easier to
find). Place the powder in front of any areas that look like they may be entry/exit points.
You may also want to place a band about 3-4 inches wide around the perimeter of the
garage. Check every day for tracks in the powder. Leave it down for a good week or
two. Rats are creatures of habit. Over a few days you will start to see where the rat is
is foraging/traveling and more importantly the powder will stick to their feet, so if the rats
are scaling the walls you will see the path they are traveling. At that point you can either
seal up the entry/exit point (called exclusion) or you can try to put out poison or traps
right near the hole. As you can probably imagine, tracking powder is effective in locating
nests, but is very messy. You would NOT, should NOT, must NOT use toxic tracking powder
in this manner.
The other option is using baits and/or traps from the get go. The issue here is you will
have to take a more “shotgun” approach placing stations every few feet around the
interior and exterior perimeters. Because rats are cautious you would need to set out a
trap, unset for the first 2-4 days. This is so the rats get used to the traps being there.
They do not like change in their environment and will shy away from anything new. After
that start placing fresh food (fruit, peanut butter) on the pressure pad without setting the
trap. Do this for about another 3-5 days. (BTW, this is assuming the use of snap traps)
IF the food is being hit regularly, then you are ready to set the trap. You will use the
same strategy for glue boards (careful-rats and mice WILL chew off their own legs to get
off a glue board and they do have a tendency to scream when caught on glue boards.) The
same strategy may need to be used with bait IF there is a colony of rats. (Yes some rats will
colonize) The colony will send out the weak and old to test food, literally. If this is the case
and you have put out poison too soon when an old rat dies and a weak one shortly
thereafter, the rats will AVOID your bait stations.
Now for the caveat…Unfortunately, your larger pest control companies put so much “time” pressure on their techs, that most techs won’t go through all this. They simply put out baited stations and traps and hope for the best. I would suggest calling a PC company to come out and inspect and take a look. MOST PC companies have free inspections. If the inspector knows what they are doing they will collect a fecal sample (gross I know, shape and length tells alot) and be looking for oily spots on the wall. If the rat is swinging from rafter to rafter, often times they will leave “swing marks” on the wall and on the rafter.
Not physically seeing your given situation, this is a fairly general treatment method. Or methods.
Rats are one of the few pests that I recommend someone calling a PC company for.
I have some questions too. The other day the Terminix guy pulled up here. He said he was here to check the bait stations. I told him we bought the house about 6 months ago and didn’t have a contract with them. He verified the previous owner’s name with me and said he’d check the stations anyway. We started talking about what kind of plan we could set up and how much it would cost. He said the stations would be checked every 3 months and they’d treat if they found any evidence of termites. This would run about $400/yr. He also said they could convert over to Termidor for that same amount. If we weren’t under contract, the Termidor would normally cost about $1500 to start. We have a brick house built on a slab. The stations were supposedly all clear the other day. What do you think we need, if anything, for our place?
First-full disclosure I work for the mentioned company.
Secondly, I make my personal feelings about termite baits fairly clear, I believe.
The good news, is as long as the renewal is paid and up to date, you can assume the contract. Depending on what state you are in you may want to call the local branch and ask if they offer the TIPP’s program. (Termite Inspection Protection Plan) First year is $279. There are certain criteria that the house needs to fit in order to qualify. If they are offering to treat with Termidor for $400 initial I would jump on it. Termidor is arguably THE best termiticide to ever exist to date. The other contenders are chlordane and lindane. They have a soil life of decades. That is pretty much the only thing they had going for them. That and they killed just about everything. (As does Termidor, active ingredient-fipronil, the same AI in FrontLine for Dogs and Cats.)
Termidor works in roughly the same fashion as the baits were supposed to (and in all fairness, may). The difference being termites just have to touch Termidor and the chain reaction starts upon coming in contact with other termites. Works roughly the same way with ants.
Short answer-get the Termidor, from who it doesn’t matter (I have no company loyalty here) although for $400 its a hell of a deal. Termidor runs about $240 a gallon retail. (concentrate) I am not in sales, so I am not 100% on current rate card, but last I knew the mentioned company was charging $6-$7 a lineal foot for a slab. So to put in perspective for you, measure the perimeter of the foundation and multiply times 6 or 7 and that will give you an idea on what the initial cost would be on a new contract.
Hope that helps.
Thanks for the info. I’ll have to check into it.
If the Termidor is so expensive per gallon, should that be a red-flag if $400 is such a great deal? You know… for lack of a better term… bait and switch? :cheesy
I know in the remodeling industry, whenever I get low-balled, the first thing I do is ask where they are cutting back to offer such a deal, and then we do an apples to apples, and it usually opens some eyes… Common refrain - “I didn’t know that…”
Just a thought…
The company is trying to get away from baiting altogether. “Official” reason being that it actually costs more for the baits to the company. And we have had a large amount of repair claims over the years that baits were being used as the only treatment. Secondly a gallon of termidor makes about 400 gallons of finished product. Applied at the rate of 4 gal/ 10 linear ft. per foot of depth to 4 ft or to the top of the footer, whichever is more shallow. For example let’s say the house Justin is referring to is 200 lineal ft and the top of the footer is 2 ft. down the gallons of finished product would be about 160 gallons. If the footer was 4 ft then it would take about 320 gallons. So as far as chemical costs the company comes out a head or at least it’s a wash. There other expenses involved :labor, fuel, wear and tear on equipment, etc. but the primary goal again is to get customers OFF the bait system and to get them switched over to either the liquid treatment or the TIPPs program and to do that you have to give them a reason.
And yes I do subscribe to the same cynicism, however in this case I understand “THE WHY” behind the low-ball type figure.