What Is in a Termite Bait Cartridge?
A termite bait cartridge consists of a cellulose material, such as wood, that is treated with a substance that is lethal to termites. Termite bait cartridges are designed to be tamper-resistant to avoid accidental ingestion of the bait by people and pets.
Common termite baits include insect growth regulators (IGRs) and slow-acting metabolic inhibitors and toxins (materials that get into termites’ nervous systems).
When they occur naturally, IGRs control a termite’s growth and development process. However, chemical manufacturers can use IGRs to disrupt a termite’s normal development. If a termite is not able to molt, it will die. Common IGRs include hexaflumuron (commonly found in Recruit® III), diflubenzuron (commonly found in Advance®, Exterra and Truth® bait systems) and noviflumuron (commonly found in Recruit® IV).
Modern termiticides used in bait stations break down very quickly and are much safer than termite control products that were used in early termite control and are no longer manufactured or sold in the United States. A few common termiticides include sulfluramid, hydramethylnon and fipronil.
Termite bait systems work by combining a chemical that can control termites with a food that they love (cellulose). Worker (forager) termites will eat the material and take it back to their nest to share with the larvae, soldiers and reproductives they feed and groom. Through this transfer effect, bait stations can control entire colonies effectively.
Depending on the size of a termite colony, it may take a few weeks or a full year for a termite bait system to control or suppress the colony. Regular inspections by a trained termite expert are important to ensure the effectiveness of treatment.
Bait systems consist of multiple bait stations placed around a home, typically installed at fixed intervals of 10 to 20 feet apart. A bait station is a plastic, child-resistant compartment that holds a termite bait cartridge. When a bait system functions solely as a monitoring system, the cartridge consists only of termite food. Then, when termites have been detected, the food cartridge is replaced with a cartridge that contains a non-repellent, slow-acting material that kills termites.