Chemical treatment zones (sometimes called chemical barriers) have long been a key method for subterranean termite infestation prevention and control. Over the years, manufacturers have developed new chemicals that allow for more targeted application for the same (or increased) levels of effectiveness compared to previous versions.
How Do Chemical Termite Treatments Work?
There are two main types of soil treatments used for subterranean termite control: repellents and non-repellents.
Repellents are applied to the soil around the perimeter of a house to help control activity around as many termite entry points as possible. These chemicals deter termites from entering the treated area. However, gaps in the treatment area can allow termites to enter your home.
Repellent termiticides are effective against the termites that come into contact with them directly – not any other members of the colony. Since repellents in essence “trap” termites and prevent them from leaving the treatment area, homes treated with repellents may have more internal damage than homes treated with non-repellents.
A non-repellent is a newer form of termiticide technology that relies on slow-acting materials to help control the foragers and their nestmates. Thus, these termite barrier insecticides can help suppress the entire subterranean colony, whereas repellents simply aim to keep termites out of a certain area. Due to the transfer effect to the colony, non-repellents can be effective even if there are gaps in the treatment area.
Types of Chemical Treatments
Following technological and regulatory updates, pyrethroid soil treatments are now the most common repellent treatments. Common non-repellent termiticides include fipronil, chlorfenapyr and imidacloprid products. These chemicals affect a termite’s nervous system and cause its death.
Termiticides can be applied to soil as a pre-construction or post-construction treatment. Pre-construction treatment is more effective and cost-efficient, as treatment materials can be applied to the exact locations where termites may try to enter your home. Post-construction treatment also is effective but more challenging and expensive due to difficulties in reaching all necessary treatment areas.
Are Chemical Treatments Effective Against Termites?
When it comes to termite proofing a home, correctly applied chemical barriers can be effective in keeping termites out and controlling active infestations. A chemical treatment applied to the soil today will offer protection against termites for up to about 15 years.
However, even homes with termiticide treatments are not completely protected against termite infestation. There have been instances where foraging termites have found a safe path through disturbed soil or via mud tunnels over a substance, such as mulch, that allows them to bridge over the materials in the soil. For this reason, it is important to continue annual termite inspections with a trained professional, even if termiticides have been applied to help protect your home.