How to Choose Subterranean Termite Treatment for Your Home

Liquid termiticides are popular materials used for subterranean termite control. There are two general types of liquid termiticides used to treat termites around homes, the older repellent products and the newer non-repellent products.

Types of Liquid Termiticides

Repellent Termiticides

Prior to 2002, liquid termiticides often were applied in a similar manner with techniques that were established more than 50 years ago. When used with the older repellent termiticides, these conventional techniques sought to create a repellent barrier in the soil to prevent termites from entering a home.

A repellent barrier treatment requires a thorough soil application to treat as many termite entry points as is practically possible. For many homes, this treatment may require extensive drilling through slabs and foundation walls in order to reach and treat vulnerable areas in the soil where termites may enter.

The “Achilles heel” to this type of treatment is that some termite entry points may be difficult to find and even the smallest gap in the barrier, until closed, could allow termites to enter and have the chance to damage a home.

Also, these repellent termiticide treatments have virtually no effect on termite populations near a home. Repellent termiticides are designed to control only those termites who in come into direct contact with the product.

Non-Repellent Termiticides

Compared to repellent termiticides, the newer non-repellent termiticides have a different mechanism to control termites. Termites cannot detect soil treated with a non-repellent termiticide. Instead, they tunnel into a treatment zone, unaware that they are coming into contact with the treated soil.

Gaps in treatment application are less of a problem with non-repellent termiticides compared to repellent termiticides. In addition, some of the new non-repellent termiticides can be transferred from termites that have come into contact with the treatment zone to nestmates that have not. The result of this transfer effect is control of more termites than just those that enter a treatment zone.

New non-repellent liquid termiticides and extensive field research have brought new treatment options to the table. Some non-repellent products can be applied both with the conventional treatment approach and a new treatment approach referred to as exterior perimeter plus localized interior treatment (EP/LI).

Types of Termite Treatment

Conventional Treatment

This type of treatment has been available for more than 50 years. A conventional treatment seeks to treat all potential areas where subterranean termites may enter a home. It is considered to be the most extensive liquid treatment for termites. Conventional treatment includes treating the soil on both sides of foundation walls, the voids of cinder blocks in foundation walls, and the soil under plumbing penetrations in slabs and bath traps.

Drilling is usually required to treat the interior foundation wall, cinder block voids and plumbing penetration areas. The number of treatment areas and the amount of drilling vary based on the home’s construction type.

Exterior Perimeter Plus Localized Interior Treatment (EP/LI)

Only certain non-repellent liquid termiticides can be used for EP/LI subterranean termite treatments. Because most termite attacks come from areas surrounding a home, EP/LI treatments primarily are aimed at treating the soil adjacent to the exterior foundation wall of a home to intercept these attacks.

Interior treatments are not required unless there are live termites in interior areas, which usually are detected with a thorough inspection. The result of this targeted treatment is a substantial reduction in the amount of drilling required to control termites. According to the label of one non-repellent termiticide – Termidor – there also can be an up to 60 percent reduction in the amount of termiticide needed for control with EP/LI, when compared to a conventional treatment. The exact percentage of termiticide reduction varies based on the home construction type.

Which Type of Termite Treatment Is More Effective?

To determine the effectiveness of termite treatment, industry experts analyze the number of times pest control companies need to retreat a home to ensure effective termite control. University of Kentucky’s Dr. Michael Potter and Anne Hillery compared conventional treatments using repellent and non-repellent products in a February 2000 Pest Control Technology article and determined non-repellent products offer more effective termite control. In this study of nearly 1,200 treatments, repellent products had a retreatment rate of 21.8 percent vs. 5.7 percent for the first non-repellent product to hit the marketplace.

A study of over 3,800 EP/LI treatments published by the same experts in the February 2003 issue of Pest Control Technology indicated a retreatment rate of only 0.7 percent when professionals used an even newer non-repellent product, Termidor. This study also demonstrated EP/LI-type treatments with Termidor offer similar results to conventional treatments with Termidor since retreat rates are approaching 0 percent.

What Termite Treatment Plan Is Right for Your Home?

A thorough inspection of your home by a trained pest management professional is key to ensuring the success of any treatment approach. After treatment, your professional should provide inspections to confirm the treatment’s effectiveness over time and determine if the treatment zone has been altered.

Before deciding which termite treatment approach is best for you, discuss your options with your pest management professional. State and local regulations regarding termiticide treatments may affect treatment options. A qualified termite expert will be aware of these regulations and can explain their impact on various treatment options.